Editor’s pickRoyal DSM announces CEO succession
After 20 years on the Managing Board and almost 13 years as CEO, Feike Sijbesma has decided to step down as CEO and hand over the company’s leadership as he seeks to pursue other business and personal roles. Feike Sijbesma will formally hand over his responsibilities as CEO on February 15, 2020 to his successors, Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze, and will remain employed by DSM securing a further smooth transition in the coming five months, until May 1, 2020. Feike will announce his new engagements and roles later.
Under the leadership of Feike Sijbesma, DSM has gone through a significant transformation, from bulk chemicals company into one which focuses on Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living, generating Total Shareholders Return of about 400%. Over more than a decade, DSM has significantly expanded its nutrition business, divested its non-core bulk chemical activities, and upgraded the materials portfolio.
Feike Sijbesma said, “It has been a huge privilege to serve DSM for such a long time. I am deeply grateful to our Board, all my DSM colleagues and business partners for working closely together and for their enormous commitment and contribution. I also thank our customers and shareholders for their trust and loyalty. And last, but not least, I am humbled for having been given the opportunity to serve society by creating value on three dimensions simultaneously: people, planet and profit. I will announce new engagements at a later moment and remain passionate driving solutions on global topics. I am proud that the Supervisory Board has chosen my Managing Board colleagues Geraldine and Dimitri, as my successors. Their appointment is well deserved and reflects the collaborative nature of our business, and I wish them every success for the future.
On behalf of all at DSM, Rob Routs, Chairman Supervisory Board: “We are very grateful for Feike’s tremendous contribution to DSM during his 32-year career at the company and most specifically his last 13 years as CEO. Under Feike’s visionary leadership, DSM transformed itself into a healthy, high performing, sustainable, and innovative company. Feike has demonstrated that a company can deliver financial and sustainability returns while creating value and purpose for all stakeholders. We all wish Feike the very best for his future.”
Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze: continuing DSM’s journey
After a thorough process and external benchmarking, including the advice and input from an international search firm, the Supervisory Board has decided to appoint both, Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze, the two Managing Board colleagues of Feike Sijbesma, in a dual leadership as Co-CEO’s. Together they will maintain the focus on business performance, financial discipline, innovation, sustainability, and people, as DSM continues its journey. This dual leadership structure is rooted in the long history of collaboration between them, which has been keenly observed by the Supervisory Board and is expected to create a strong basis for continued profitable growth. In conjunction with their Co-CEO role, Geraldine Matchett will retain her responsibilities as CFO and Dimitri de Vreeze will hold the COO responsibilities.
As Co-CEO’s, Geraldine will focus on financial management and capital markets communication, capital allocation, talent and culture development, as well as digital strategy and new ways of working. Dimitri will focus on operational delivery, SHE, customer centricity, driving growth and efficiency as well as innovation and R&D programmes. Jointly they will be accountable for the performance of the company and will drive the purpose led, performance driven strategy and M&A agenda.
Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze have both demonstrated strong leadership while working with Feike Sijbesma in shaping the company over the years. Their skillsets are highly complementary, and their combined leadership will enable them to leverage their respective strengths within DSM’s collaborative environment.
Geraldine Matchett joined DSM as CFO and Managing Board member in 2014. Dimitri de Vreeze joined DSM in 1990, has held multiple business roles and has been Managing Board member since 2013.
To facilitate a smooth transfer and continuity to the new Co-CEO leadership structure, the Supervisory Board will ask the shareholders at the AGM in May 2020 to re-appoint Chairman Rob Routs for a final two years term.
Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze said, “It’s a great honour to serve DSM. We are excited to combine our mutual strengths as Co-CEO’s, to ensure the continuation of DSM’s successful journey, creating brighter lives for all, and to lead our innovative, science-based company that has sustainability at its core. We are convinced that together we can deliver continued success for the company. Feike has demonstrated remarkable leadership, and we look forward to building further on his legacy.”
Rob Routs, Chairman Supervisory Board, said, “After careful consideration, we concluded we have the very best candidates in-house. Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze, together with Feike Sijbesma, have driven the transformation and successes of the business in a highly collaborative and effective way, creating considerable value for all stakeholders. The Supervisory Board has seen them working together and believes the Co-CEO structure will ensure the continued successful development of DSM, with profitable growth, delivering on its promise as an innovative science-based company with a positive impact on the world. Together, Geraldine and Dimitri have a wealth of knowledge and experience which they are keen to continue to combine to ensure DSM will remain a leading company. Since Geraldine and Dimitri have worked for so long closely together with Feike, and shaped our current strategy together, we will have a smooth transition in the coming period, and we look forward to continue working together with them.”