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Maersk Oil

A large-scale leadership programme transformed the culture of Maersk Oil and helped the company deliver the best financial results in its history.

The brief: 

A journey that started with executive coaching for six leaders in the Maersk Oil executive team, grew into a transformational programme that supported 100 senior leaders to prepare for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and concluded as a way of helping the wider organisation navigate more purposefully through an acquisition and the ambiguity that this entailed.

What we did:

Building on the executive coaching, the leadership transformation at Maersk Oil included the design and delivery of a four-day programme for the top 100 leaders. This was followed by a three-day programme for the next level of more than 250 leaders and guidance for an internal half-day programme, facilitated by the top 100 leaders, for the entire organisation. Accountability, Collaboration and Trust (ACT) were identified by the executive team as the critical behaviours required for leading the IPO and subsequently for leading the whole organisation. The three programmes were designed to consciously understand, enable and embed ACT as a way of leading and a way of being in Maersk Oil.


Whilst constantly taking different shapes, based on the organisation’s changing needs, this journey helped create a new, dynamic and purposeful organisational culture. The executive team shifted from working as siloed, functional leaders to a cohesive unit, which cared for the whole business and for each other. Meetings became more effective, with honest ‘check-ins’ and clear purpose helping create a genuine way of being together and generating clear deliverable outcomes. The behaviour of the executive team changed to become supportive, open and inclusive; noticed throughout the business and by stakeholders. Over a two-year period and in the face of the new reality of being sold instead of listed, the entire leadership culture transformed in a similar way to the executive team. The organisation was able to course correct from IPO to divestment and delivered the best annual financial results in the history of Maersk Oil in 2017. Underneath this lay a personal transformation for many leaders, bringing meaning into their work and personal lives.

Common purpose with a team, even in tough times; that is strength, that is power, that is something that The Mind at Work has helped us realise, understand and deliver as a team. I have seen in our most senior leaders much more ownership for the culture, the strategy and for creating the future of our company.

Gretchen Watkins – CEO, Maersk Oil (2016-2018)

Watch now: The Power of Purpose

President of Shell Oil, Gretchen Watkins, talks about the power of purpose and its importance to her as an individual and for creating common purpose within a team.

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