People
2.04.2020

CEO's blog: We care, have courage and cooperate

Peter Vanacker
President and CEO, Neste

The past weeks have placed all of us in the middle of a completely new situation. A natural, instinctive response to a crisis is to flight or fight – or freeze. What eventually happens in an organization depends a lot on its culture, values and leaders. The behavior of people reveals the culture, the actions taken reveal the strength of the values, and the level of trust reveals true leadership. 

At Neste, I have seen a tremendous wave of this readiness to fight. When we realized the magnitude of the possible implications of the coronavirus outbreak, we rolled up our sleeves, took tough decisions early on and started making major changes in our plans. We canceled many long-awaited and well-prepared events, urged everyone who can do so to work remotely and took strong measures to protect all those who need to work physically at our sites. They are the people who very concretely help keep society up and running. 

As the crisis escalates, we keep working together to mitigate its impacts. We fight. We don’t flee, nor do we freeze. This is our culture, and the crisis has already proven the professionalism, flexibility and passion of our people.

We have quite recently renewed our values. We state that we care, we have courage and we cooperate. These values are now being tested, just as our culture is being brought to the fore. I dare to claim that our decisions and actions are based on the commitment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and the people around us. We care. I am very grateful to all our employees and partners who have expressed their trust and respect for those actions.

In a crisis situation, under pressure, I have also witnessed people coming up with bold and innovative solutions to the problems we are facing. When we were contacted some days ago and presented with a proposal to help double the number of coronavirus tests in Finland, we didn’t have to think twice. This project is a wonderful example of the power of cooperation. It brings together healthcare professionals, major companies and an airline, joining forces to ease the burden of the public sector and speed up the recovery of the entire society. My warm thanks go to all the other partners in this project.

We must also have the courage to look beyond the crisis and start envisioning a post-corona world. When we plan our path to that world, we have a golden opportunity to build a smarter and more sustainable economy and society. Now is the time to design that vision.

What will be needed is optimism, in all its forms. Here I would like to refer to Christiana Figueres, a global authority on climate change, who has invited us to be “Stubborn Optimists”; and John Elkington, a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development, who describes himself as a “Qualified Optimist”. I believe that where there is an opportunity, we are able to create miracles together. We just need to maintain our optimism and stay true to our vision for the future even when facing the most difficult challenges.

At Neste, our purpose is to create a healthier planet for our children. This purpose drives us to search for new ways to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, innovate circular solutions and to reuse carbon again and again. The efforts governments across the globe will devote to the economic recovery after this pandemic must pass the test of creating a healthier planet. That will be the only way towards a sustainable future, together.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @NesteGlobal using #NesteLife.

Written by
Peter Vanacker
President and CEO, Neste

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