W. Rufus Estis
CAB's Alumnus of the Year, Rufus Estis, says despite his many accolades and international experience, he didn't always want to be an accountant.
"I really wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star, but Ferriday filled its quota with Jerry Lee," Estis jokes. After starting out in finance, Estis took his first set of accounting classes required by all business majors.
"I kept wondering why everyone was having such a hard time with these courses when it was a breeze for me," Estis says. "And then it dawned on me that I was really good at this, and more importantly, I really like it. I changed my major after the second accounting course and eventually became a CPA."
Estis graduated from Tech in 1973 and earned his MBA in finance from the University of Houston in 1988. Currently, he is the vice president and chief financial officer for Maritech Resources, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tetra Technologies located in the Woodlands, Texas.
In addition to his professional work, Estis believes in community service. He serves as a charter member of the College of Business Advisory Board and as a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Pi. He has also served on the Houston Chapter of the Texas Society of CPA's board of directors and is a former vice president of the Houston Inter-American Chamber of Commerce.
"I think the most important thing about community involvement is giving back," Estis says. "It's a way of expressing thanks for all the help, encouragement and support that all of us receive throughout our lives." As the first member of his family to attend college, Estis visited many schools, but was drawn to Tech. "I loved the campus and I thought Tech was great," Estis says. "It also helped that I received a scholarship to play in the Tech Band. In hindsight, I don't think I could have made a better decision." Estis' career path led him to many foreign countries where he successfully adapted, thanks to his Southern upbringing.
"I think growing up in Louisiana made it easier for me to adapt to new cultures," Estis says. "When you're from the South, you don't meet strangers and you are taught to treat others with respect. When you apply the same principles to your dealings with people from other cultures, it's amazing how well you are received and accepted."
While doing business with people from all over the world, Estis lived in Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kazakhstan. He says living overseas is not everyone's cup of tea, but he found the experience fascinating.
"Everyday was a new challenge," Estis says. "I had to learn the laws and business practices of a foreign country. I expanded my business skills because I wore a lot of different hats. I traveled the world over and I now have many friends on every continent."
One of those hats included the responsibility of safely evacuating 120 people during the riots that hit Jakarta in 1998. However, life-threatening situations aren't the issues Estis credits as being the most challenging.
"Working overseas will certainly test one's patience and perseverance," Estis says. "The pace of life is a lot slower and business is usually conducted on the basis of relationships. Accordingly, things that ordinarily take a day to do, sometimes take a week. Things that might take a week elsewhere can take a month. big decisions can take forever. If you make the mistake of trying to rush it, you won't like the outcome."
Estis says in difficult situations people skills become more important than numbers, and he believes he honed his by participating in organizations at Tech, particularly within the CAB.
"My best memory is without a doubt my association with Delta Sigma Pi," Estis says. "Being president was one of the greatest learning experiences I have had in my life. We had a very active chapter and some very outstanding members. Two of the members from my pledge class have already been named CAB Alumnus of the Year."
Although he married his high school sweetheart Brenda, raised two sons, achieved professional success, and traveled the world, Estis says there's still one more thing he wouldn't mind doing, "I still would like to be a rock star."
Return to Distinguished Alumni Page