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Ben van Beurden: One The World’s Most Reputable CEOs 2019?

Vicky Valet:

At first glance, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell might seem an unlikely candidate to rank high on a list of this nature. After all, not only has the energy sector long been regarded by the general public as one without much of a moral compass, but the business Van Beurden leads isn’t counted among the world’s most reputable. None of this is news to him, and since rising to the helm in 2014, he’s made rewriting the narrative a priority, and a public one at that. “Doing the right thing is the single biggest driver of reputation,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “His leadership style—lead from the front, not the back—says not only is he a highly ethical CEO, but he has empathy and the desire to make the world a better place to live.”

From spearheading a campaign to reduce Shell’s net carbon footprint 50% by 2050 to collaborating with organizations including the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and the World Resources Institute to ensure that his company’s plans become a reality, Van Beurden has acknowledged the elephant in the energy room—climate change—and has demonstrated his commitment to working to protect the planet against the threats his industry has helped create. “Energy is one of the least reputable industries,” Hahn-Griffiths says. “Shell really took a stand as a leader in climate change and alternative energy, and redefined what it means to be a good corporate citizen in the energy sector.”

The attention Van Beurden has paid to developing sustainable energy solutions is surely qualification enough to make him one of the world’s most reputable CEOs, but had he pursued these initiatives behind closed doors, would they have been enough to propel him into the top ten?

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