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The Times: A word in your Shell-like — it’s all gibberish

(The Times article below by Martin Waller openly ridicules Jeroen van der Veer, the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc)

The Times: A word in your Shell-like — it’s all gibberish

January 5, 2008
City Diary Martin Waller

An e-mail arrives. It is from Shell, the subject of embarrassing leaks this week about plans to sack 3,000 people and outsource the IT functions. It is the internal e-mail setting out the official version of events to staff. Pass by the fact that it is virtually illiterate. In it, Jerome K. Jerome, sorry, Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Shell, explains that the outsourcing of jobs “is an excellent example of a function driving towards top quartile”. This translates as, you’re sacked, but we still get our bonuses. I am reliably informed that this is how people within Shell do talk to each other. As in “as Shell’s businesses implement their strategies to achieve ‘More Upstream, Profitable Downstream’ and top quartile, there has been an equal drive in the functions as well”.

Gibberish. I have every sympathy with Shell IT staff who will lose their jobs. But you might end up working for someone who doesn’t condescend to staff in purest management-speak.


The above leaked item was supplied to Martin Waller by John Donovan of on 4 Jan 08.

Jerome K. Jerome was the author of comic masterpieces e.g. “Three Men in a Boat” (1889)

Some quotes from Jerome K. Jerome…

“It is always the best policy to speak the truth–unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.”

“It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.”

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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