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Chevron's CEO believes preparation was key to success during pandemic

June 08, 2021 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated June 29, 2021 17:41 PM UTC

Michael Wirth shares how his company's strategy allowed them to be adaptable.

So let's talk about the pandemic for a minute. Uh we'd all prefer not to have to talk about the pandemic anymore, but it's hard to ignore. Um and and specifically in your industry, it had uh devastating effect. Oil industry. Oil and gas industry was one of the hardest hit as economic activity shut down last year. Will demand plummeted. The price of oil plummeted um at one point was even negative and trading value. Um I'd like to hear, you know, your reflections on how that has changed your strategy or not changed your strategy and just how it might have changed the way you're leading, you know, massive corporation that's global with so many employees going through that experience the oil and gas industry, you're used to bust and boom cycles. But this was something kind of different. Yeah, I think the pandemic reinforced a few things brian number one is you have to always be prepared and we manage risks of many different kinds of while a pandemic I think was viewed by many as a tail risk unlikely to happen. We had a pandemic response plan on the shelf. We have drilled for pandemics and we were prepared to keep our people and operations as safe as possible to institute appropriate safeguards and protocols very quickly, which worked well. We were also prepared for a down cycle and commodity prices. We had a very strong balance sheet. Uh, we were prepared to take advantage of acquisition opportunities as other companies uh felt the stress of the pandemic. And so I think it reinforced our commitment to preparation. I think the other thing that we learned from it is you need to be adaptable. And uh, as we're coming out of the pandemic, we're seeing demand for certain products like gasoline and diesel fuel recover very quickly. Aviation fuel, not so much. And so we need to adapt our approach to our business to be sure that we can continue to operate reliably and safely, even as economies are on different footing and, um, and moving forward at different rates. And it it really calls for that flexibility and adaptability in in planning and execution in markets, in all the activities that it takes to operate our business every day.