The dismantling of letters E L F: A very symbolic moment that marked the end of an era
3 questions… on your feelings about the TOTALFINA & ELF merger…
How did you learn about the merger?
I worked at Elf, in the Marketing Strategy France business unit, when my colleagues and I received a message on our phones in the middle of a management meeting. Needless to say, this one took another turn, everyone was going on commenting the topic! The rest of the meeting was interesting: everyone under the age of 40 thought it was good news, the others were more reserved. For my part, I thought that I would work longer in the new ensemble than in my original company and that I should find more opportunities. Anyway, it was a moment that I'm not about to forget!
What change in culture and practices did it involve for you?
In the early days, the merger did not really change much in our daily life, because we continued our work in parallel, in Elf, as Total ... business as usual, I would say. In my activity, Elf and the "small Total" were already working together on common topics, such as product exchanges in France and Europe. Our working group was called "E.T.", for "Elf-Total".
In fact, we felt the impact of the merger when the big day of the move arrived. It had to adapt to new premises, a new boss, etc. This was the case for everyone, even for the alumni of Total, so we did not feel alone! These are funny times to live, retrospectively.
While integration with my new colleagues was simple to manage, understanding the organization and operation has been more challenging. And then we had to mourn the old organization, the abandonment of projects in progress ... but we quickly geared on new ideas to implement the strategy of the new group, it was motivating.
With hindsight, I tell myself that, even if Elf and Total were two French companies, they had cultures a little different - Elf seemed to me more business-oriented, Total more technical-engineer, Elf had a more informal and networked organization , Total more framed, formalized - we quickly converged on a model that kept the strengths of both companies ... Otherwise we could never get the results we did the following years! But all this seems out of date today and these issues of origin are far behind us. Moreover, they are totally incongruent for the hires post 2000 who knew only Total, after mergers with Fina and Elf.
What is the most memorable memory you have of this period?
In fact, I remind several anecdotes ... Thus, at the time of the merger, the parvis of La Défense had been renamed "the Ouessant railroad", because there were, between Michelet and Couple, two itineraries that allowed those of Elf and Total, in charge of discreetly preparing the integration meetings, to avoid crossing each other in public! A very symbolic moment that marked the end of an era has been the dismantling of the letters "E.L.F.” On the Coupole tower. We attended, a little by chance, from the forecourt and we all felt a twinge in the heart - the end of an era. I also remember the first integration meeting of the teams of Elf and Total: the solemn side of the first round of the table of my new entity where it was necessary to appear was quite remarkable ...! Another important memory will remain for me the first file presented to the executive committee as part of the merged entity.