Succeeding a merger means having the right pace in the fourth dimension permanently!
3 questions… on your feelings on the TOTALFINA ELF merger…
What activity did you perform at the time of the merger and within which entity?
When Total and Petrofina came together, I was the Director of Total's Czech subsidiary. And as Petrofina was not there, my life did not really change ... When Total-Fina moved closer to Elf however, I had to get along with the boss of the local branch. I remember that the "merger" of our two entities in the Czech Republic went well. Things may have been more difficult for salespeople who were previously competing and had to change their minds to sell products they used to devalue in the eyes of the customer!
How did you find your marks in the new Total?
After the merger, I was called to the internal communication, in the context of the follow-up of the integration of the teams. There were plenty of books on corporate mergers and all agreed that - with equal strategy and synergies - it was all there. The first question that Thierry Desmarest posed - and that he will continue to ask himself throughout the two mergers - was that of the good rhythm of integration of the teams. Working with him with rhythm as the fourth dimension permanently in mind made me realize the importance of the time factor in integrating teams. It must be recognized that Total and Elf were not so culturally alienated, even if we felt some nuances: Elf was more fussy about the administrative, at Total, we were very in the "unwritten", which could seem a little complex to understand for the people of Elf. But, one of the performance indicators of my mission was to make sure there were no "Blues" or "Reds".
What is the most memorable memory you have of this period?
Unfortunately, two dramas have come to darken the memory that I keep. There was the sinking of the Erika on December 12, 1999, and the ensuing oil spill. And then almost two years later, the explosion at the AZF factory on September 21, 2001. These are very painful memories, the only comforting aspect of which is to have helped to weld the teams into adversity.
A good memory despite everything? The change of the logo. I put together the team who thought about it and to rethink it, it was still impressive to go from a simple A4 sheet to a worldwide declination. I remember epic meetings in Comex where members were asked their opinion on the logo ... If we take the advice of everyone, we end up making a brown logo united! While a logo is primarily a bias.