Riley Peart Bechtel is a notable American billionaire businessman. He served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Bechtel Corporation, an engineering, construction, and project management firm that’s renowned worldwide.
Born on March 25, 1952, in San Francisco, California, Riley Bechtel is the great-grandson of Warren A. Bechtel, who established the Bechtel Corporation in 1898. He attended the University of California, Davis, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1974.
His educational pursuit didn’t stop there as he went on to Stanford University, where he received a Juris Doctorate in 1977. During his university years, Bechtel worked various construction jobs, helping him to develop an in-depth understanding of the business from the ground up.
Upon completing his education, Bechtel joined his family’s firm in 1974, where he began in field roles and gradually worked his way up the ranks. He held multiple positions within the company, including that of a construction field engineer, senior engineer, and project manager. These roles provided him with an opportunity to gain extensive knowledge and experience, eventually equipping him for the company’s top job.
Riley Bechtel initially began his career in the legal field, serving at the law firm of Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges. In 1981, he dedicated himself full-time to the Bechtel Corporation. He rapidly rose through the ranks, attaining the position of president and chief operating officer in March 1989.
In 1990, Bechtel was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of the corporation. Only three years later, he ascended to the role of CEO, and in 1996, he also became the Chairman. Under his leadership, the Bechtel Corporation saw substantial expansion and development, successfully managing large-scale projects in various sectors such as infrastructure, nuclear power, and oil and gas.
Bechtel stepped down from the role of CEO in 2014 and as the Chairman in 2016 due to health reasons. Despite his departure from the day-to-day operations, Bechtel remained involved in the company’s major decisions.
His leadership extends beyond Bechtel Corporation as he has served on the board of directors for various notable organizations. Since 1995, he has been on the board of the international council of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Additionally, he’s part of the board for the Fremont Group, which is owned by the Bechtel Corporation and operates Trinity Ventures, LP, as well as Fremont Investors, Inc., and Sequoia Ventures, Inc., both associated with Bechtel Corporation. He also held a board position at Theranos.
Bechtel’s past memberships include influential bodies such as the Trilateral Commission, the American Society of Corporate Executives, The Business Council, the Business Roundtable, and the National Petroleum Council. He continues to serve on the corporate council of the Conservation Fund and the Board of Trustees of the Ocean Exploration Trust.
Additionally, Bechtel holds positions on several educational boards, including the governing board of the Indian School of Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business advisory council, Stanford Law School Dean’s advisory council, and UC Davis’ board of visitors.
Bechtel currently lives in California, where he lives with his wife, Susan. He’s a member of the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, as well as the exclusive, male-only Bohemian Club in San Francisco, where he regularly participates in their yearly gathering, the Bohemian Grove.
He frequently appears on Forbes magazine’s lists, consistently ranking among the top 200 wealthiest individuals in the United States and the top 500 globally. In February 2014, after a 25-year tenure, Bechtel made the decision to step down from his position as CEO of Bechtel Corporation, citing health complications related to Parkinson’s disease.
Bechtel’s family has also contributed significantly to Stanford University over the years, further emphasizing their dedication to supporting educational causes.
As of 2023, Riley Bechtel’s net worth is estimated to be around $3.8 billion. His wealth primarily comes from his involvement in the Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest privately-owned companies in the United States.
Bechtel’s achievements are numerous and noteworthy. Here are some highlights:
Riley Bechtel is known to maintain a low public profile and is not actively present on mainstream social media platforms. He prefers to focus on his business endeavors and philanthropic activities. His philanthropic efforts are primarily channeled through the Bechtel Group Foundation, which supports education, culture, and health-related non-profit organizations.