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Cook to break the mould at Shell

The Mail on Sunday

Cook to break the mould at Shell

Competition between BP and Shell is set to intensify next year if Linda Cook, an American mother of three, is appointed to the top job at the Anglo-Dutch energy group.

Cook, who earns nearly £2 million a year and last week emerged as the frontrunner to take over from Jeroen van der Veer who retires next June, has been crucial to positioning Shell as the world’s second-biggest gas producer after ExxonMobil.

About 45 per cent of Shell’s production is gas, including liquefied natural gas, compared with BP’s 39 per cent.

Cook, a no-nonsense University of Kansas-educated Roman Catholic, has been described as a ‘gas industry evangelist’. It’s here, it’s relatively cheap and it’s the most environmentally friendly hydrocarbon energy source, she says.

Cook joined the Shell board in 2004 in the aftermath of the embarrassing reserves scandal that cost chairman Sir Phil Watts and finance director Judy Boynton their jobs.

She was devastated by the shake-up, having liked and respected Watts, but she refused to be deflected by the upheaval, choosing instead to get on with the job.

Her no-nonsense approach was exemplified when she introduced bleeps to keep meetings on time when she was head of Shell Canada. That attitude has helped her rise through the ranks as the oil giant took its agonising path to modernising governance and internal culture to restore confidence with investors. It also helped her survive the company’s bruising experience in Russia where it lost control of its huge Sakhalin-2 project.

Cook’s succession chances improved last week when Peter Voser, chief financial officer dropped out of the succession race. That left only Malcolm Brinded, head of exploration and production, as an internal challenger – and he is five years older than Cook and more closely linked with the previous regime.

If Cook is appointed, it will make Shell, worth £121 billion, the largest company in Britain with a female leader.

Cook joined Shell in 1980. Her husband, Steve, looks after their three children at their home in the Netherlands. 

Link to Original Article with colour photographs…


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