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Bringing Home Global Experience

September 5, 2017
three men
Left to right: Gov. Matt Mead, Hess Corp. President and COO Greg Hill and Tom Botts at a Hess gift announcement at UW in 2014.

Now retired from Royal Dutch Shell, alumnus Thomas Botts brings his international expertise to UW.

By Micaela Myers

Wyoming native Tom Botts graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1977 and immediately began what would become an international, high-powered career with Royal Dutch Shell. 

“I started the new job with a dozen other new engineers from top-notch schools,” he recalls. “I have to admit at first it was daunting because I didn’t know much about the oil and gas industry. But I soon realized, with my Wyoming engineering education and Wyoming core values and work ethic, I could compete with anyone coming out of supposedly superior schools. Eventually I realized I could turn my hand to just about any challenge. Since Shell was a huge international company, I had the opportunity to work many different roles in many different places, including 11 years overseas. UW not only gave me a rock-solid engineering education but also reinforced a strong work ethic, personal integrity and skills in successfully working with others.”

Botts’ roles with Shell included leading a team of 30,000 employees and contractors at 30 refineries and chemical sites around the world; serving as division operations manager responsible for onshore upstream operations in the western half of the U.S.; overseeing engineering and operations as division production manager; being named treasurer; holding positions as U.K. gas director, oil director and managing director; serving as executive vice president for exploration and production, Europe; and being named executive vice president of global manufacturing.

“My family and I got to live in very cool places like London, Scotland and Holland,” he says. “I couldn’t have done it without the constant support from my wife Shelley—who is my childhood sweetheart from Wyoming—and our three kids.”

Botts retired in 2012, and he and Shelley returned to Wyoming, where Botts turned his attention to giving back to UW by serving on the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force and the UW Foundation’s board and serving as director of the Energy Resources Council. He and Shelley also recently established an endowed professorship chair: the Thomas and Shelley Botts Endowed Chair in Unconventional Reservoirs in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to UW for providing me a solid foundation for a successful career,” he says. “I really enjoy talking to students and encouraging them to broaden their horizons and have the confidence that they will be able to compete in their chosen fields. I see UW making significant progress on many fronts and am thrilled to be able to help a little to continue raising the bar. We have come a long way on the Tier-1 Engineering Initiative and the new Engineering Building, the growth of the School of Energy Resources and the new High Bay Research Facility, and the growing momentum on the science and education initiatives. Shelley and I creating the endowed chair position shows how excited and confident we are in the direction of UW.”

Botts Chair Mohammad Piri, a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science as well as the School of Energy Resources, says: “From the early stages of me getting to know him, he very graciously took the time to talk to me about his experiences and how those could help me in my own career. Those were priceless and extremely helpful.” He adds that Botts has been a tireless proponent of the new facilities.

Botts says: “The High Bay Research Facility puts UW and the state of Wyoming squarely on the world map. We will be able to do things that cannot be done anywhere else in the world. The instrumentation and research equipment in the High Bay will enable us to see and understand things like fluid flow through porous media with more clarity than has ever been achieved anywhere. Many global companies and research institutions are lining up to do their research projects here because they know this is a one-of-a-kind facility with world-class researchers led by Professor Piri.”

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