It’s been over a year since the untimely passing of Total’s former Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie. Following his tragic death in an executive jet crash in Moscow on October 20, 2014, the company divided the roles of CEO and Chairman. Company veteran Patrick Pouyanne was appointed de Margerie’s successor as CEO, while Thierry Desmarest was appointed the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Total’s CEO and new Chairman, Patrick Pouyanne
Desmarest’s term will come to an end Friday per the age limits specified in Total’s bylaws. The Board has chosen Pouyanne as its Chairman according to the company’s previously announced plans for the roles of CEO and Chairman to be recombined at the end of 2015.
Pouyanne commented, “On behalf of all directors, all of Total’s staff and personally, I would like to express our deepest respect and gratitude to Thierry Desmarest for his unwavering commitment and service to Total. I have found his support and advice invaluable in ensuring the transition of the Group’s management, the Board and its committees. Today’s decisions are fully aligned with the company’s commitment to uphold the highest standards of governance.”
Thierry Desmarest poses with the late Christophe de Margerie
Total’s Board also announced the creation of the position of Lead Independent Director. Patricia Barbizet has been named to the position. She will oversee the efficient running of the company’s governance structure, chair the Governance and Ethics Committee, and be a key contact for shareholders on issues related to the Board’s responsibilities. This appointment will take effect on December 19.
Desmarest said, “The Group is in good hands. Patrick Pouyanné will provide the leadership required in an environment demanding discipline and innovation. I know that he will drive Total with determination on the path to sustainable growth.”
Revisiting Pouyanne’s Pedigree
Prior to his appointment as CEO on October 22, 2014, Patrick Pouyanne was the President of Total’s Refining and Chemicals division and member of the Executive Committee. He joined the company in January 1997 as Chief Administration Officer of Total E&P Angola. Two years later, he was appointed CEO of Total E&P Qatar.
In 2002, Pouyanne was named Senior Vice President, Finance, Economics, and Information Systems in E&P, and in 2006 became the company’s Senior VP of Strategy, Business Development and R&D in E&P.
Pouyanne has been a member of Total’s Management Committee since May 2006, and in March 2011 was appointed Senior VP, Chemicals and Senior VP, Petrochemicals.
His appointment a year later as the head of the company’s refining and chemicals division gave him oversight of the company’s efforts to reorganize its operations and increase profitability amid Europe’s economic downturn.
Pouyanne oversaw Total’s relations with French unions following a significant country-wide strike in 2010 at refineries and depots.
A graduate of École Polytechnique and an Engineer of the French Corps des Mines, he held various positions in the French Industry Ministry and in ministerial offices prior to joining Total.