Changing of the guard
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden is making way for the company’s youngest ever CEO. Will 48-year-old Wael Sawan usher in a greener era?
I think back to my only previous experience with Shell — a recruitment event nine years ago. We played the Nexus Energy Game, a board game about the relationship between food, water and energy. Even then, the idea of multinationals flaunting their sustainability agenda at a recruitment event made me feel uncomfortable. The Nexus game makes the players build an economy around a lake. A classic example of the
Tragedy of the Commons, in which players have to strike a balance in order to survive on a scarce water supply.
As an avid board game player, I dove right in. An economic optimisation puzzle that also involves solving a prisoner’s dilemma: Bring it on. I was assigned a country and immediately forged an alliance with a fellow player so we could claim the lake together. We crushed the competition. A consummate tyrant, I blackmailed my neighbours with the threat of draining the entire lake. After three rounds, my business partner and I divvied up a huge pile of money for the final score. For a second, I considered keeping some money from him as well. It wasn’t nice of me, but I was just focused on winning for a bit.
This doesn’t actually make any difference in terms of winning, by the way. After all, the Nexus Game doesn’t end with a winner. The score mainly reflects the players’ behaviour and its effect on the world. As is often the case with these kinds of management games, the primary school children scored significantly higher than the CEOs. After all, children would rather build a beautiful city than rule an empty lake. The game does have losers, though: I must embarrassedly conclude that I behaved like a CEO.
To the recruiter’s great credit, I was held accountable for my actions: I was not invited for another round. And that gives me some hope.
Tim Kroezen obtained his BSc in Life Sciences at University College Utrecht in 2013, followed by an MSc in Energy Science at Utrecht University. He won the Groninger Student Cabaret Festival in 2022.