Total CEO Dies: A Look Back at the Career of Christophe de Margerie

- Leadership - Oct 21, 2014

Late on Monday night the boss of French oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, tragically passed away in a plane accident involving his business jet and a snow plough in Moscow.

The plane was in the process of taking off when it collided with the airport machinery, resulting in the death of all four people on board.

De Margerie leaves behind a leading global company turning over more than €170 billion, with strengthening relations in Russia key to current and future growth, underlined by the late CEO’s conviction that Europe must sure up its energy ties with the Putin regime as opposed to economic detachment.

In the words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, "France is losing an extraordinary business leader who turned Total into a world giant…a great industry captain and a patriot."

The 63-year-old entrepreneur became Chief Executive of Total in 2007, having joined Total Group after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris in 1974.

He spent his entire career at the company and quickly became known as the ‘Big Moustache’, taking on a number of responsibilities across various territories.

De Margerie held several positions in Total’s finance and exploration and production divisions, becoming Executive Vice President of Total Middle East in 1995. Four years later, in May of 1999, he joined the executive committee of the company as President of the Exploration and Production wing.

Three years later, in 2002, he served as Senior Executive Vice President of Exploration and Production for TotalFinaElf, before the name of company reverted back to Total in 2003.

In 2006 de Margerie was appointed to the Board of Directors at a shareholders meeting, before becoming CEO in February 2007. He also became chairman of the company in 2010.

He was also a director at BNP Paribas since 2013, and became influential in the European think tank arena by serving as a Member of Global Advisory Board at Council on Foreign Relations.

De Margerie said that his successor would follow him in that he or she would come from within Total, and there is no doubt that his incredibly loyal 40 years of service will be an extremely tough act to follow. 

Total concluded in a statement: "The thoughts of the management and employees of the Group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the other victims."

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