The staff communications meeting was held in the Yenzi gymnasium in the afternoon on Monday, June 2. Before handing over to CEO Ben van Beurden, Shell Gabon General Manager and Country Chair, Godson Njoku, highlighted the historic nature of this visit for Shell Gabon and the privilege that went with it.
Ben van Beurden said that he was delighted to be visiting Gabon for the first time. In his 30 years at Shell he has been fortunate enough to work in Africa, Asia, North America and Europe. In his five months as Group CEO, he has been impressed by just how much Shell was respected and recognised for its contributions and how welcome the group was in different countries.
An example of this, during his meeting last March, with Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba the Head of State of Gabon said to Ben that he valued Shell’s contributions in Gabon. Ben was also impressed with what Shell is capable of achieving in terms of development of large-scale industrial projects, complex operations and post-crisis recovery capabilities. He concluded that this was due to Shell’s size, technology, people, reputation and brand.
In assuming his role as Shell Group CEO, Ben took the decision not to implement changes within the organisation and not to change the strategic approach which he believes to be efficient, with just a handful of modifications, and which is based on asset investment and asset building, investment in reliable areas for growth, and the long-term development of the potential of certain regions or businesses such as Iraq and the Arctic.
“The main objective was to know how to get the current organisation to work rather than define a new approach. There will, of course, be areas which will need to be reviewed. We will have to make more critical decisions in terms of strategy because, over the last few years, our investments have grown considerably, sometimes outstripping our capacity to generate income”, he said.
During his meeting with employees, Ben van Beurden also highlighted just how important it was for each employee to understand how they contribute to the company’s bottom line.
For Ben van Beurden, “everything that we achieve is down to our people. We need to develop them and ensure that they are where they need to be, at the heart of all of our activities and all of our success stories. We need to ensure that they understand their role, and that they are valued and respected. Each employee must understand that there is a deal between them and their employer. They must make the best use of their skills for the company. It is also important that expatriates are able to transfer their knowledge to local employees, and take the time to train them for the long term viability of the business.
In conclusion, Ben van Beurden reminded all staff that Safety will always be the top priority. Improving the bottom line is not more important than the safety of the company’s men and women. Safety remains the number one priority.
In the evening, cocktails were served for employees and their spouses in the Yenzi gymnasium, giving Ben the opportunity to reiterate the main messages about Shell Gabon. As part of the evening, Ben was presented with several souvenirs, including a T-shirt sporting Shell Gabon’s new vision.