As Rex Tillerson sees it, being a Boy Scout is the key to success.
“We need to create a value system,” the chief executive of oil behemoth Exxon Mobil told about 600 people at a Heart of Virginia chapter of the Boy Scouts fundraiser at the greater Richmond Convention Center last night. “We have to package this value system into a delivery system.”
Tillerson, who in 2013 made more than $40 million, became an Eagle Scout at the age of 13 in 1965. He said his scouting experience on the Oklahoma plains taught him more about leadership than anything else during his 41-year career at Exxon.
“The most formative years for a boy are from 8 to 18,” he said. “These are the years we want to capture these young people.”
One way to do so is by continuing the Scouts’ traditional outdoor events such as camping and hiking, he said. Because today’s youth spend about eight hours daily in front of an electronic screen, getting out at night is crucial. “Out there,” he said, “you realize there is something bigger.”
Reciting the Scout law every day is likewise essential:
“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.” “Isn’t that exactly the kind of employee you would like to have?” Tillerson asked, drawing out the word “obedient.”
The Scouts’ value system serves Scouts, their community and their corporations for life. If a former Scout confronts moral conflicts in his job or life, he said, focusing on the Scout law always shows him the right course.
And Tillerson has replicated the Scouts’ system of earning merit badges at Exxon Mobil as a way to keep employees focused on a succession of goals, just as Eagle Scouts must earn a certain number of merit badges and fulfill other requirements to achieve the organization’s highest rank.
When he was hiring, he said he always looked for the Eagle Scout notation on résumés: “They would go into a separate pile.”
The Heart of Virginia chapter has about 12,500 Scouts in 24 counties.