Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Tony Hayward

One of the most openly reviled people of 2010, BP's former CEO spent a large part of the summer dealing with the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. Hayward did tour the region extensively and express many times the company's commitment to the cleanup, including setting aside a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate victims of the spill. But whereas the disaster would have been a p.r. nightmare for even the savviest corporate executive, in making one public gaffe after another — Hayward tactlessly griped, "I'd like my life back," in response to the explosion that killed 11 workers, and repeatedly denied the severity of the spill — Hayward proved to be a fish out of water in dealing with the press. As an accomplished geologist, Hayward became CEO of BP in 2007 with the mandate and determination to improve safety at the company — which even then was criticized for promoting dangerous practices. But the company's safety problems clearly proved more than one man could handle, and in the end Hayward's biggest contribution to the company was serving as a lightning rod for the public's disgust with the spill. Hayward took the heat, and on July 27, it was announced that he would be leaving the company — but not without taking an extra year's salary (about $1.7 million) on his way out the door.