September 19, 2017 – Recruiting firm Spencer Stuart has placed Richard P. Eno as the CEO of BioAmber Inc. in Montreal. He succeeds Jean-Francois Huc who resigned earlier this year for personal reasons. Mr. Huc remained with the company as a member of the board of directors and also assumed an advisory role with the management team to help ensure a smooth transition.
“The board is pleased to have found an individual with an ideal industry background as well as public company experience to assume leadership of BioAmber,” said Ray Land, BioAmber’s chairman of the board. “Rick is uniquely qualified to lead BioAmber successfully into the future.”
BioAmber is a renewable materials company. Its technology platform combines biotechnology and catalysis to convert renewable feedstock into building block materials that are used in everyday products including plastics, paints, textiles, food additives and personal care products.
Energy Sector Experience
Mr. Eno has over 30 years of related management experience in the energy, chemicals, biotechnology and materials industries, including five-plus years as president, CEO and board member of a publicly traded industrial biotechnology company. He began his career in Chevron’s chemical operations with roles of increasing responsibility in engineering, manufacturing and construction operations. He then entered management consulting where he specialized in addressing critical strategic and operational issues facing company leadership in the chemical and energy industries.
In 2008, he took on the role president and CEO of Metabolix, an industrial biotechnology company commercializing a range of unique bio-based, biodegradable polymers. Most recently, Mr. Eno has been a senior partner at Roland Berger, a global management consultancy, focused on the chemicals industry.
“I am enthused to be joining the BioAmber team,” said Mr. Eno. “The company’s bio-succinic technology operates superbly at scale; there is a rich pipeline of attractive customer opportunities, and a world class team in place. I look forward to leading the growth of this highly innovative company.”
Over the past three years, Spencer Stuart has conducted hundreds of senior-level executive and board director searches in the energy sector, ranging from multibillion-dollar corporations to venture capital-backed startups. More than half of its searches in the industry are at the board or C-level. The firm has access to 500,000 executives across a variety of energy sectors. Sixty percent of Spencer Stuart’s work in the energy industry comes from returning clients.
Active Energy Sector
A report issued by ManpowerGroup, “Strategies to Fuel the Energy Workforce,” found that 58 percent of energy executives said they struggle to find the talent they need; 74 percent believe the problem will worsen over the next five years.
The study found the talent shortage may be slowing growth and expansion throughout the sector. By some estimates, there will be three million energy sector jobs by 2020. In the utilities subsector, where half of the workforce is already over the age of 40, some 100,000 net new jobs are projected. Many of the positions will require tech-savvy candidates to keep pace with future developments.
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A number of energy specialist recruiters polled by Hunt Scanlon Media said “economic uncertainty” and “political volatility” were having a significant impact on petroleum and natural gas companies, but new leadership requirements were surfacing as a result.
CEOs and other leaders with “diplomatic skills” and “strategic orientation” to steer companies through a deepening downturn that could last years are now being sought, as burned-out senior-level executives step aside and look to transfer their skills to other industry sectors.
According to Steve Goodman, who leads the North American energy search practice for Egon Zehnder, it is during difficult times when leadership and innovation are most in demand. Downturns, he said, require finding the right balance between positioning to survive and positioning for coming growth.
“With the price of oil over $100 per barrel, the demand for leadership in upstream oil & gas and oil field services companies is compelling,” he said. “However, given oil’s current downward pricing pressure, the feverish demand within O&G and oil field services companies has diminished. Of course, we continue to work on leadership and board transitions as top leadership today requires the ability to not only manage growth, but also navigate the cyclical storm.”
Mr. Goodman said his firm is spending considerable time helping boards in this sector think about how they can be more effective as a whole. “The muscles to stretch and challenge management can atrophy a bit in some boards during an era of industry growth,” he said. “In a market downturn, decisiveness and nimbleness in the boardroom are often valued more than consensus.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media