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Feike Sijbesma to step down as CEO of Royal DSM in 2020

02
Dec '19
Pic: Royal DSM
Pic: Royal DSM
The supervisory board of Royal DSM, a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, has announced the upcoming succession of CEO Feike Sijbesma, who will hand over his duties to his managing board colleagues Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze as co-CEO’s in February 2020 and will support a smooth transition until May 2020.  

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. 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. Sijbesma will announce his new engagements and roles later.

Under the leadership of 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. In addition to focusing on business performance and financial discipline, under Sijbesma’s leadership, DSM repositioned itself into the successful science-based company that it is today: purpose-led and performance-driven, putting innovation and sustainability at the heart of the company and its strategy. Today, DSM is a truly global company with a diverse and engaged employee and leadership base, creating value for all stakeholders.

“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.

“We are very grateful for Sijbesma’s tremendous contribution to DSM during his 32-year career at the company and most specifically his last 13 years as CEO. Under Sijbesma’s visionary leadership, DSM transformed itself into a healthy, high performing, sustainable, and innovative company. Sijbesma 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,” Rob Routs, chairman supervisory board said.

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, Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze, the two managing board colleagues of 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, 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 programs. Jointly they will be accountable for the performance of the company and will drive the purpose led, performance driven strategy and M&A agenda.

Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze have both demonstrated strong leadership while working with 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.   

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.

“It’s a great honor 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,” Matchett and Vreeze said.

“After careful consideration, we concluded we have the very best candidates in-house. Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze, together with 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 Sijbesma, 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,” Routs said.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (PC)

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