He graduated from Southern Methodist University where he was a brother of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He earned both Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in geology from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After serving as, first ensign and then lieutenant commander in the United States Navy from 1942–1945, he returned to Texas in 1946 and worked as a field geologist for Humble Oil, now known as Exxon, United States.A.
In 1956, he set up his own oil and natural gas exploration company known as Roy M. Huffington, Incorporated. (Huffco). Huffco grew to be a major independent international oil company active around the world. In 1966 signed production sharing contract with Pertamina to explore oil in the Kutai Basin of the Mahakam River delta in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Initially the exploration object was oil, but finally Huffco discovered a giant natural gas reserve in 1972 at Badak Field.
Then Huffco and Pertamina initiated to build an Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bontang. First shipping was in August 1977, only five years after discovery.
In 1990, all properties of the company were sold to the Chinese Petroleum Corporation of Taiwan and became VICO. From 1990 to 1993, Huffington served as Ambassador to Austria in the administration of United States. President George Herbert Walker Bush. He then returned to Houston and resumed the position of chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Roy M. Huffington, Incorporated., an independent international oil company.
Roy Huffington joined the Board of the Salzburg Global Seminar, an international policy center based in Salzburg, Austria, with offices in Washington, District of Columbia, while serving as United States. Ambassador to Austria.
In 1994, he was elected chairman of the Salzburg Global Seminar Board, a position which he held until 2007. Huffington also served as the chairman of the Asia Society, a New York-based charity, for seven years in the 1980s. He also founded the Huffington Foundation, a Houston-based charity.
Huffington, having been a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at SMU, donated a significant (undisclosed) amount of money to the Alpha Tau Omega Educational Foundation, which provides collegiate scholarships for undergraduate members of the fraternity.