Shell Names New CEO

Shell Names New CEO
Shell announced Thursday that its chief executive officer, Ben van Beurden, will step down.

Shell announced Thursday that its chief executive officer, Ben van Beurden, will step down at the end of 2022 and revealed that it has named a new CEO, effective January 1, 2023.

Van Beurden’s successor will be Wael Sawan, who will also join Shell’s board of directors. The outgoing CEO will continue working as an adviser to the board until June 30, 2023, after which he will leave the group, Shell outlined.

Van Beurden has been Shell CEO since January 1, 2014. He was previously Downstream Director from January to September 2013 and Executive Vice President of Chemicals from 2006 to 2012. Prior to this, he held a number of operational and commercial roles in both upstream and downstream, including Vice President Manufacturing Excellence. Van Beurden first joined Shell back in 1983, after graduating with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Sawan is currently Shell’s Director of Integrated Gas, Renewables and Energy Solutions. He was previously the Director of Upstream. He is based in The Hague and has been a member of Shell’s executive committee for three years. Prior to joining the executive committee, he was the Executive Vice President of Deepwater and a member of the Upstream Leadership Team. He has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas during his 25-year Shell career. A dual Lebanese-Canadian national, Sawan grew up in Dubai and holds a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from McGill University in Montreal and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

“Wael Sawan is an exceptional leader, with all the qualities needed to drive Shell safely and profitably through its next phase of transition and growth,” Shell Chair Andrew Mackenzie said in a company statement.

“His track record of commercial, operational and transformational success reflects not only his broad, deep experience and understanding of Shell and the energy sector, but also his strategic clarity. He combines these qualities with a passion for people, which enables him to get the best from those around him,” he added.

“The outcome of the board’s managed succession process resulted both in the appointment of an outstanding CEO and proved the strength and depth of Shell’s leadership talent. I look forward to working with Wael as we accelerate the delivery of our strategy,” Mackenzie continued.

Commenting on van Beurden, Mackenzie said, “Ben can look back with great pride on an extraordinary 39-year Shell career, culminating in nine years as an exceptional CEO”.

“During the last decade, he has been in the vanguard for the transition of Shell to a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and has become a leading industry voice on some of the most important issues affecting society,” he added.

“He leaves a financially strong and profitable company with a robust balance sheet, very strong cash generation capability and a compelling set of options for growth. These were all enabled by bold moves he has led, including the 2016 acquisition of BG and the transformational $30 billion divestment of non-core assets that followed. He took firm, decisive action to marshal the company through the global pandemic, seizing the opportunity for a major reset to ensure we emerged fitter, stronger and equipped to succeed in the energy transition,” he continued.

“Powering Progress, Shell’s detailed strategy to accelerate our profitable transition to a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, was unveiled in February 2021 and was quickly followed by moves to simplify both our organizational and share structures. Ben’s legacy will frame Shell’s success for decades to come,” Mackenzie went on to state.

Commenting on his departure, van Beurden said, “it has been a privilege and an honor to have served Shell for nearly four decades and to lead the company for the past nine years”.

“In my journey from LNG design engineer to CEO, I have been fortunate to work alongside so many talented people from diverse backgrounds – all committed to the company’s goal of providing the world with the essential commodities of modern life,” he added.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved together. I have great confidence in Wael as my successor. He is a smart, principled and dynamic leader, who I know will continue to serve Shell with conviction and dedication. I wish him and his family all the best for the journey ahead,” van Beurden continued.

Incoming Shell CEO Sawan said, “it’s been a privilege to work alongside Ben and I’m honored to take over the leadership of this great company from him”.

“I’m looking forward to channeling the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to rise to the immense challenges, and grasp the opportunities presented by the energy transition,” he added.

“We will be disciplined and value focused, as we work with our customers and partners to deliver the reliable, affordable and cleaner energy the world needs,” Sawan continued.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg, citing Reuters, reported that Shell had shortlisted candidates to succeed van Beurden.

Shell’s annual reports and accounts document released back in March revealed that van Beurden saw his pay rise last year. The CEO’s total remuneration in 2021 stood at $8.14 million (EUR 7.38 million) according to the report, which highlighted that the CEO’s total remuneration in 2020 stood at $6.44 million (EUR 5.84 million).

Looking back over the last 10 years, however, van Beurden’s 2021 total pay figure was still some way off previous CEO pay highs. The top three pay years stretching back to 2012 came in 2014, when van Beurden earned $26.70 million (EUR 24.19 million), 2018, when the CEO received $22.22 million (EUR 20.13 million), and 2012, when then CEO Peter Voser received $20.13 million (EUR 18.24 million).

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