July 27, 2010 -- BP's board has let Tony Hayward go as CEO nearly 100 days after the oil leak crisis in the Gulf of Mexico began. Hayward will take a job at a BP outpost in Russia, while collecting an $18 million severance package.
Hayward likely also takes with him a laundry list of things he wishes he had done differently. Here is a recap of what experts say are his five biggest blunders:
Had Hayward made it his hallmark to cultivate a corporate culture that put safety and environmental concerns ahead of profits, the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico might never have happened – but then the former geologist might never have lasted one week as BP's CEO.
"The leaders of oil companies are, by their nature, inherently indifferent to crisis," explained Robert Slater, author of "Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth." Slater described the entrenched mentality of the men in charge of the world's oil companies, Hayward included. "It's just part of the way they think – they don't view the world as being in danger of running out of oil, so there's no sense of urgency in terms of making sure there are no leaks or spills. It's almost as if they don't care how many barrels they spill. BP certainly makes us feel that safety has nothing to do with their agenda."
"Looking at BP's safety record compared to other oil companies it is hard not to conclude that Hayward helped cultivate a culture of excessive risk taking," said Fadel Gheit, an energy analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.
Sailing Takes Him Away
In one of the worst-timed boat trips since the SS Minnow set out for a three-hour tour, Hayward's decision to take part in a yacht race around the Isle of Wight during the height of the crisis was seized upon by the media and BP's critics as a colossal public relations fiasco. Veteran PR man Howard Rubenstein told ABCNews.com at the time that Hayward's outing was "well deserved but poorly executed. Rubenstein says it might not have been the galling gaffe is was made out to be, if Hayward had been more up front. "Instead of trying to hide his face he should have simply announced ahead of his excursion that he was taking 12 hours to recharge."
During a Congressional hearing in mid-June, Hayward, as he took questions, grimaced and scowled and generally looked annoyed to be there. A little humility might have been the better tact, analysts said. "Crisis management was not his forte," Oppenheimer's Gheit said.
Hayward made a monumental cost-cutting push his signature priority, resulting in what seems to be a tendency for the company to cut corners, said Dan Pickering, co-president of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., a Houston-based energy investment bank. "They have had incidents in Texas, Alaska, now two mishaps in the Gulf – this is more than some string of coincidences," Pickering said. "There has to be something about the way they are running the business that causes them to run into so many issues. I'd say it's the intense focus on cost cutting."
Remark Heard Round the World
Without question, the No. 1 cited reason Hayward got the hook was his now infamous "I want my life back" quote.