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Reaction: Resignation of BP's Tony Hayward

Clare Spencer | 14:35 UK time, Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Commentators discuss the resignation of BP's CEO Tony Hayward.

In the Huffington Post Robert Canvar isn't sad to say goodbye to Tony Hayward:

Tony Hayward

"I'll refrain from calling Hayward a Toffee-Nosed, Yacht-Racing-Snob as others have called him. I'll just continue to hope that without him, BP will at some point have a chance gain a soul and remember the now 26 Americans who have been killed in two BP accidents, 5 years apart. Safe operations and profit are not mutually exclusive. You just need a management who cares enough to make it so."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter says in Harvard Business Review that Tony Hayward's resignation won't be the end of BP's troubles:

"When an executive becomes responsible for the fate of a company, he gets power, privilege, and enormous pay. He is expected to act to enhance the institution, not to undermine it. Of course, his departure will not save BP nor miraculously reverse the damage. But Hayward's departure allows BP to grab a broom for a clean sweep and fresh start."

The Times editorial calls for [subscription required] the BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg to resign as well:

"Carl-Henric Svanberg, BP's Swedish chairman, was scarcely visible for much of the crisis. When he eventually arrived on the scene and visited BP's disaster operations in Houston, he did so accompanied by his girlfriend, on his way back from Thailand. He had gone there on holiday while his colleagues worked through the May nights to contain what turned out to be America's worst oil spill.
 
"Mr Svanberg is not paid almost £750,000 a year to be strong and silent. He is paid to take responsibility, to communicate effectively, to manage the board and to back his management in difficult times. His failure to do that has too much resembled an attempt to protect his own reputation. In fact, he has sabotaged it. He has misunderstood the role of chairman: it is more than corporate governance."

Steve LeVine asks in NPR if Tony Hayward's replacement Bob Dudley will be any better:

"BP appears prepared today to answer its very American problem with a very American solution - replacing its decent and gentlemanly, yet deeply British and culturally tin-eared CEO, Tony Hayward, with Bob Dudley, who grew up in Mississippi and is demonstrating a knack with American public relations. That's the strength and also the weakness in the choice of the 54-year-old Dudley - he'll do as well as anyone toward getting BP back on track with Washington, and limiting the political fallout of the April 20th Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But whether he's the type of personality who can turn around Wall Street, and battle successfully for assets around the world, are other matters entirely."

John Sauven argues in the Guardian that the route of BP's mistake is trying to drill in hard-to-reach places:

"The new chief executive needs to learn from Tony Hayward's mistakes and turn his back on deepwater drilling as well as even more risky projects in the untouched Arctic wilderness and the tar sands. Greenpeace is urging Bob Dudley, the company's new CEO - who once worked at BP's solar and wind business - to take the company in a new direction after his predecessor's concentration on high risk, environmentally reckless sources of oil."

Links in full

Robert Canvar | Huffington Post | Hayward Gets Life Back; American Workers Still Dead
Rosabeth Moss Kanter | Harvard Business Review | Leadership Tips from Tony Hayward (or Not)
Times | Failure of Leadership
Steve LeVine | NPR | Is Dudley Any Better Than Hayward?
John Sauven | Guardian | BP should end the oil age early


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