SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Unsure of Shell: “…I e-mailed an invitation to van der Veer to explain how the FT's report and his statements to me could be reconciled. His failure to reply makes me fearful about whether the essential cultural revolution at Shell really is taking place.” (ShellNews.net) 6 Feb 05
Edited by Robert Peston, Sunday City Editor
Jeroen van der Veer is not what you expect from the chief executive of the UK's most profitable company – which is what Shell became last week, with its disclosure that in 2004 it generated net income of almost £10bn.
With his crumpled suit and self-deprecating style, you'd place him as an economics lecturer rather than a mogul. Which may be just what this troubled Anglo-Dutch oil company needed, after being humiliated last year for overstating oil reserves (and there was yet another downgrade of these reserves last week).
However, if Shell needed to acquire a touch of humility in its dealings with the outside world, there was also an imperative for less introspection and more transparency.
In that respect too, I had a favourable impression of van der Veer when lunching with him, at his invitation, in December. And in a wide-ranging chat, he volunteered to me that a survey of Shell's employees showed that they retained a remarkably high opinion of their company, despite all its troubles.
I was therefore bemused by a report in last week's FT that this same survey in fact showed a significant slump in employees' confidence in the way the company is being led. So I e-mailed an invitation to van der Veer to explain how the FT's report and his statements to me could be reconciled. His failure to reply makes me fearful about whether the essential cultural revolution at Shell really is taking place.
THE RELEVANT FT ARTICLE:
FINANCIAL TIMES: Shell staff unhappy with leaders: “Those that are in charge of change are themselves tied to the old culture." A person close to the company said: "Without exception, every Shell person I have met recently has asked me if I am able to help them find something else. Others are leaving without even waiting to find another job.” (ShellNews.net) 2 Feb 05