What I’ve Learned: Toby Rice ’04

June 14, 2024

By Luke Woodling ’17MBA

Toby Rice ’04
Photo by Scott Cook.

Toby Rice ’04 shares key lessons from his rise to the top of a Fortune 500 company, including how his time at Rollins—most importantly, as captain of the 2004 baseball team—formed the foundation for his success.

Twenty years ago, Toby Rice ’04 captained the Rollins baseball team to its first Sunshine State Conference (SSC) title and the semifinals of the DII College World Series. Along the way, Rice and his teammates reeled off a 20-game win streak en route to a 48-12 record, at that point the best mark in program history.

The team was short on star power, but what they lacked in raw talent they made up for in grit, dedication, and a never-say-die determination. Coach Bob Rikeman affectionately called them the Dirtbags, a moniker the team embraced along with their underdog status.

Rice, who was named SSC Player of the Year that season, was one of the Tars’ best players, but his qualities as a leader were just as critical to the team’s improbable run as his .376 batting average.

Just three years after that magical season, Rice founded Rice Energy with his brothers Daniel and Derek right at the start of America’s fracking boom. The fledgling outfit carved out a presence in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale—home to the country’s biggest natural gas field—by outhustling, outwitting, and outmaneuvering larger, more established operators. When they sold the company to EQT in 2017 for $8.5 billion, the brothers had built Rice Energy into a top 10 producer from the ground up.

Today, as president and CEO of EQT, Rice helms a Fortune 500 company and the nation’s largest producer of natural gas. But while the field on which Rice plays has grown significantly, his values, his leadership style, and the keys to his success are still rooted in his time guiding one of Rollins’ historically great teams.

Being underestimated can be great motivation. My brothers and I were definitely outsiders when we started Rice Energy, but we never shied away from it. Instead, we embraced that underdog status and used it to motivate ourselves and our team.

You have to take care of the details. We’ve always been very methodical about the things we do and how we do them. That’s really important whether you’re building a business from the ground up or leading a Fortune 500 company.

Do what you say you’re going to do. Trust is our No. 1 value, and building strong relationships has always been one of the keys to our success.

Communication is the key to getting better as you get bigger. You can have the best playbook in the world, but if you can’t communicate it, then it’s worthless.

Building a winning culture is all about alignment. At Rollins, Coach was great at showing us the things he really cared about and making sure that we were all aligned around those values. We do that same exercise at EQT. Everyone on the team—from my direct reports to the people who are turning wrenches in the field—are in alignment about what we value as an organization.

You can’t tell if you’re winning if you’re not keeping score. We track more than 3,000 performance metrics across the 400 different roles that we have within the organization, so I can tell you at any given time what our company score is and whether we’re winning or not.

Technology is the key to differentiated results. I learned that early on when new frack technology gave us the edge we needed to break into the business and grow Rice Energy into a top 10 producer. Today, our biggest edge is our communications technology that connects experts from across the entire world to work here.

Building a great organization is like surfing. It takes a lot of effort to power through the breakers and paddle onto a wave, but once you’re riding that wave and you’ve built a great culture, a lot of things really start taking care of themselves.

Students wearing caps and gowns walk to a commencement ceremony on Rollins College’s campus.

Rollins Results

From our innovative curriculum to our commitment to career services, find out how Rollins prepares our graduates to lead meaningful lives and forge productive careers.

Find Out What It Means to be Rollins Ready

Read More

July 15, 2024

Rollins College Computer Science Professor Discusses AI and the Future of Work

Daniel Myers, an associate professor of computer science at Rollins College, provides expertise on how AI is changing the nature of work.

July 08, 2024

Gunter’s Book on Climate Change Receives Multiple Awards

Political science professor Mike Gunter’s book Climate Travels recently won awards from Foreword magazine and the American Library Association.

July 03, 2024

Rollins Welcomes Dean Lauren Smith

The interviewed Lauren Smith, the new Dean for the Hamilton Holt School about her experience with adult education.