Shell Downstream VP and Global CIO Craig Walker spoke to CIO UK Editor Edward Qualtrough during episode 17 of the CIO UK podcast to discuss future business models, tech for good initiatives, and the emerging technologies that will have the biggest impact on Shell and the broader energy sector.
Walker shared how Shell was moving from a molecule-based business to an electron-based model, how his pay was now linked to the company's carbon reduction initiatives, working for and with people with a disability, and the opportunities provided by technologies like blockchain and autonomous flying vehicles.
"Our history for 100 or more years has been oil and gas, predominantly oil in the early days and then far more gas business," Walker said. "But these days, we're very much moving to be an energy business. And you could say, where we're moving from being a molecule-based business to an electron-based business.
"We have transformed in a way that I haven't ever seen in my career in Shell - we have truly become an energy business."
Walker said the fundamental energy transition was a challenging shift, but that Shell was committed to sustainable energy and that he was equally incentivised to help the company on that journey.
"My pay is linked to our reduction in carbon, just as an example. That permeates across the company - I think a lot of people are very proud to be working for a company that said 'we are going to bring sustainable energy solutions to the world'," Walker said.
A high-flyer in the 2019 CIO 100, Walker discussed work Shell was doing working with people with a disability in India.
He went on to discuss future technologies which we believed would have a big impact on the energy sector, including blockchain for transactional services and how autonomous aerial vehicles could improve a safety-conscious sector.
"Whereas 10 years ago you could dream of doing these things but you didn't have the bandwidth or you didn't have the tech - suddenly you can dream up just about anything, and you can put the tech together to do it," Walker said.
"And I think this is one of the really amazing things about the tech right now; it's allowing me to imagine and to come up with ways of working even as fundamental as business models that I just couldn't have done before.
"And how do I use the tech to create new ways to market, to create new services that I just couldn't have done before?
"It's just a fabulous time to be a CIO."
Launched in January 2018, the CIO UK podcast is a monthly discussion featuring CIOs, commentators and technology executives thrashing out the key issues relevant to the UK's business and technology leaders - as well as the tangential and irreverent musings of guest CIOs.