Sam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of Centrica, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration (Hon DBA) by Robert Gordon University (RGU) on Friday, December 13.
Sam Laidlaw was born in Kensington, London in 1956 and was educated at Eton. He received an Open Exhibition to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University where he studied Economics Part I and Law Part II.
He qualified as a solicitor in 1979 with Macfarlanes firm of City solicitors. He obtained his MBA from Insead in 1981. His career in the oil and gas industry began with Amerada Hess in 1981 where he built their North Sea business before running their worldwide Exploration & Production activities and becoming President and Chief Operating Officer (1995-2001). In this role, he restructured the asset base to convert the company into a predominately international exploration and production organisation rather than a U.S. East Coast-based refining and marketing company. He redesigned the organisation and business processes to support this change in strategic direction.
In 2002, Laidlaw was the Chief Executive of Enterprise Oil, which was, at the time, the largest independent oil and gas company in Europe. He successfully steered the company through a takeover by Shell whilst also fending off a hostile bid by ENI. Following the completion of the transaction, Laidlaw was involved in developing a number of oil and gas opportunities through a private company, Neptune Oil & Gas Ltd.
Subsequently, in 2003 he became the Executive Vice President for Global Business Development, a newly created post, at the ChevronTexaco Corporation. In this role he was responsible for identifying and developing new, large-scale business opportunities throughout the world culminating in the acquisition by Chevron of Unocal. He also served on the corporation’s executive and strategic planning committees. In addition, he held regional responsibility for Russia, the Middle East and North Africa.
In 2006, he took over from Sir Roy Gardner as Chief Executive and Chairman of the Executive and Disclosure Committees of Centrica.
Centrica is the parent company of British Gas in the UK and Direct Energy in North America, serving over 27 million customers in these core markets. The downstream businesses are supported by a substantial international Exploration and Production business and a power generation fleet comprising gas, nuclear and renewable capacity. Under Laidlaw’s leadership, Centrica’s exploration and production business has grown from producing 60,000 to over 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
In addition to his executive roles in the oil and gas industry, Laidlaw has made a number of significant contributions via industry bodies, policy advisory work for the UK Government, non-executive directorships and for charities. The following are illustrations of the depth and breadth of these contributions. Laidlaw is a non-executive director of HSBC Holdings plc, lead Non-Executive Director on the Board of the Department for Transport, a member of the Council of the National Centre for Universities and Business, Chairman of the CBI Higher Education Task Force, Chairman of the UK Council of INSEAD, a former member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, a former Vice President of the Institute of Petroleum and a former non-executive director of Hanson plc. He has also served as President of the UK Offshore Operators Association.
In 2012, Laidlaw was asked by the UK Transport Secretary to conduct a review into the conduct of the cancelled West Coast Main Line rail franchise competition.
In addition to serving as a trustee of RAFT, a medical charity for burns and reconstructive surgery, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Council member of Radley College.
Laidlaw is no stranger to Aberdeen and recollects his first attendance at Offshore Europe as being back in 1987. He was a speaker at this year’s opening plenary session where he gave a well-received, wide ranging and upbeat presentation about the industry and the need to be innovative.
Press Release, December 17, 2013