Shell CEO to Step Down after Helming Company for 9 Years

UTC by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Shell CEO to Step Down after Helming Company for 9 Years
Photo: Web Summit / Flickr

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden will step down for renewables director Wael Sawan, after a nearly four-decade career, 9 of which he served as CEO.

Shell (LON: SHEL) chief executive officer (CEO) Ben van Beurden is to step down at the end of the year, according to reports. After helming the Dutch-British oil giant for nearly a decade, Beurden will leave for director of integrated gas Wael Sawan.

Sawan will assume CEO responsibilities at Shell on January 1st, with his appointment ending speculation over who the company chooses next. Speaking about Sawan, and what he brings to the table, Shell’s Chair, Sir Andrew Mackenzie said:

“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. 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.”

Mackenzie also described Sawan as a people-oriented person and one capable of accelerating the company’s deliverables.

In response to his appointment, Sawan expressed a willingness to rise to the challenge of leading Shell. As the incoming CEO put it:

 “It’s been a privilege to work alongside Ben and I’m honoured 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.”

Sawan, who holds Lebanese and Canadian citizenships, also demonstrated a commitment to enhancing global energy. During his 25-year spell at Shell, Sawan took on several roles in downstream retail and various commercial projects.

Shell CEO Antecedents Draws Praise from Company Leaders as Step Down Date Approaches

The outgoing CEO drew praise from Sir Andrew. According to the Shell Chair, van Beurden can take pride in his impressive 39-year career at the oil giant. In addition, Sir Andrew also stated that near-decade tenure as Shell CEO saw some milestones for the London-based company. These include transitioning Shell into a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and championing worthy global issues. Furthermore, van Beurden also oversaw one of Shell’s biggest acquisitions ever. In 2016, the oil giant purchased rival BG Group for a colossal $53 billion. At the time of the acquisition, Shell was looking to form the biggest liquefied natural gas company in the world.

Looking back on his stellar near-four-decade career at Shell, van Beurden expressed gratitude for the opportunity to “serve”. Furthermore, the outgoing CEO also expressed faith in the abilities of his successor Sawan. He also described Sawan as smart, principled, and dynamic.

After his official departure from the CEO role, van Beurden will continue on Shell’s board through to June 2023.

In response to the announcement, Shell stock rose 0.7% in early London trade. This development translates to a 40% year-to-date increase in Shell stock price.

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