By Sarah Hill
For Randy Pike (M.B.A. '93), there's nothing quite like the peacefulness and tranquility of sailing beneath a full moon. That's one of the reasons he named his sailboat the Moondance. That, and because the moniker is a nod to the famous Van Morrison song of the same name. Pike is somewhat of a music aficionado. He spent his high school days as a drummer in garage bands and his college years at Vanderbilt University playing gigs at fraternity parties and Nashville bars. "The Eldorados, my fraternity band, played our very own version of the James Brown song, ‘Cold Sweat,'" he remembers, "which I chose as the name of my first offshore sailboat." Upon moving to Houston, he was captivated by Rockefeller Hall where he saw many live shows, eclectic in their range—from Gregg Allman to Dizzy Gillespie. One of his favorite bands, he recalls, was the Houston rhythm and blues band, Luther and the Healers. "I lived in a Montrose bungalow at the time, close to all the clubs—and I would just see everything I could!" he exclaims.
His passion for education, however, led him to define a considerably larger legacy at the University of Houston — one that honors his roots and inspires future generations to succeed. While music has been an integral part of Pike's life, so has sailing. Pike has been sailing since he was a six-year-old in Venezuela, where he spent his childhood. Sailing will play a big part in his early retirement—he plans to embark on a year-long trip along the coast of the southern United States, rounding the tip of southern Florida and then up the coast as far as Massachusetts later this fall. He enjoys the ports, the many characters he encounters and the local wildlife in the places he visits. He always finds a friendly place to "drop anchor" and finds that it behooves him to keep his "mind and body busy, as a retiree."
Pike is fond of his boat and certainly worked hard to obtain it, in both his academic and professional careers. When he casts off this fall, he'll spend most of his time in front of the helm, guiding his way toward new adventures. If a captain is one who guides, Randy Pike is a captain in the fullest sense of the word. He not only guides his own career and retirement successfully, but also guides young engineers toward their own goals and success by providing them with the means to attend the University of Houston—and he does it with finesse and acumen.
Pike and UH's EMBA
His retirement is well-earned after 31 years in the engineering industry at Shell Oil. He ascended through the ranks, thanks in large part to the University of Houston's Executive Master of Business Administration program from which he received his graduate degree in 1993. The learning environment and the constant weekday studying helped him to hone skills that opened up even more opportunities at Shell. "Receiving my EMBA," he says, "helped me learn the ‘language of business' and strategic planning."
In the final third of his career at Shell, Pike spent 6 years working within the company's subsea engineering division. His career always consisted of a good balance of tried and true projects mixed with new experiences and exciting techniques. "In a word, my job has always been challenging," he states. After working offshore, working on wells as a production engineer and executing a four-year stint in Rio de Janeiro as a Completion Engineering supervisor, he eventually became the Production Engineering business lead on the Enterprise Architecture program for Shell Oil's Onshore Gas Division. "Enterprise Architecture" is defined as a single integrated architecture that defines how data is collected, stored and reported. "It was a great decision, going to work for Shell," he concludes. "I've always liked people and I got to work with engineers from a lot of different disciplines through my work."
Pike wanted to share his accumulated wealth with the University of Houston. Through a UH Points of Pride mailing he received in 2013, and through the patient counsel of both his attorney and assistant vice president for gift planning at UH, Lisa Holdeman, he realized just how a scholarship endowment could help financially challenged students become world-class engineers. He was surprised to learn that there are only a handful of subsea engineering academic programs in the world. This includes UH's subsea curricula that, in 2012, became the first and only higher education degree program established in the United States.
Pike recognized immediately how critical funding was, especially considering that Houston is the "energy capital of the world." If years in a highly specialized niche such as subsea engineering taught Pike anything, it was that subsea protocol was technologically more advanced than the processes used for land wells — and that industry would be well served by specialized training at the university level.
Once Pike decided to focus his gift in engineering, he was certain his legacy would include paying tribute to his father and mother who provided him with an exceptional education. His mother, the first child in her family to attend college, became a teacher and then later a flight attendant. It was on a flight to Caracas, Venezuela that his mother and father, a native Houstonian, met. It was their steadfast belief in the power of education and their adventurous spirit that led Pike to his rewarding career in engineering — and initiated his love of sailing.
Creating an Endowment
Pike directed his sizable bequest to the Allen G. and Cleo V. Pike Scholarship Endowment in the Cullen College of Engineering. This gift, in honor of his supportive parents, is set as a source of scholarship funding for financially challenged students who wish to learn engineering in Houston.
Now, committed to meaningful generosity and supporting his alma mater, Pike is passionate about helping those engaged in energy education at the University of Houston. He is interested in providing funds to a pioneering institution, one in need of resources and one with the demonstrated ability to provide resources to deserving students. As the "Energy University," the University of Houston is at the top of that list.
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