Wael Sawan takes over as Shell CEO

Wael Sawan has officially taken over the position of chief executive officer of LNG giant Shell.

Back in September last year, Shell announced that Sawan will replace Ben van Beurden, starting on January 1, 2023.

Sawan previously served as Shell’s director integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions, and the upstream director.

As he steps into his new role as CEO, Sawan said in an interview posted on Shell’s website that he is “incredibly excited, but I have to admit also sometimes daunted, by the huge challenges that are out there.”

“I take comfort in the fact that we do have a strong strategy, we do have brilliant people,” he said.

Shell’s priorities

He said that Shell’s biggest priorities in the near future would be clarity of strategy, clarity of intent, and prioritizing to be able to achieve the outcomes Shell needs to achieve.

“When we focus as a company, we are unstoppable,” Sawan said.

“I think, secondly, it’s about continuing to be bold, continuing to be innovative, continuing to challenge the paradigms that are out there,” Sawan said adding that the third priority is performance.

“It’s performance, in terms of keeping our people safe, it’s performance, in terms of how we drive value in the organization every single day,” he said.

Asked about what was the best advice he had received regarding the new role, Sawan said that he was told to “come in as if you’ve never been in the company, which is tough for somebody who’s been in the company for 25 years.”

“But I think the advice there is open your mind as to what’s possible and don’t be defined by what’s available,” he said.

He also talked about the people of the organization.

“A company is not about the leadership of the company. A company is about the heart and soul of the company. And that’s the – in our case – the 80,000 people who make Shell what it is today. It’s how I stay connected day in and day out is, I suspect, one of the biggest things that I need to heed as good advice,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else”

Discussing the energy transition, Sawan said that “it won’t come without challenges – that I recognize.”

“But the opportunity to be able to rewire the entire energy system towards lower carbon, under our watch? What a fantastic opportunity. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else other than in this sector, and specifically in this company, at this point in time,” Sawan added.

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