Since 2018, Michael Wirth has assumed the pivotal roles of Chairman and CEO at Chevron Corporation, a testament to his extensive career in the energy industry. Born on October 15, 1960, Wirth has experienced significant successes and controversies along the way to becoming a well-known figure in business.
Wirth's early life reveals a commitment to both academics and sports. Graduating from the University of Colorado in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, he not only excelled in his studies but also showcased his athletic prowess as a football and basketball player.
Commencing his career at Chevron as a design engineer in 1982, Wirth steadily climbed the corporate ladder. His expertise in engineering, construction, and operations led him to various roles within the company. In 2001, he assumed the position of Chevron's Asia, Africa, and Middle East marketing president, expanding his influence across diverse regions.
Wirth’s participation on the boards of Caltex Australia and GS Caltex coincided with Wirth's rise within Chevron, demonstrating his extensive influence in the sector. Speculations about his succession as Chevron's CEO were rife, ultimately materializing in 2018 when he assumed the dual role of chairman and CEO.
However, his leadership has not been without criticism. Chevron, under his guidance, faced scrutiny for having one of the largest private corporate carbon footprints. The company was accused of greenwashing and misleading clients about its greenhouse gas reduction efforts, leading to an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
Wirth's response to concerns about Chevron's environmental impact drew attention. When asked about investing in alternative energy, he proposed that the company would return to its shareholders and encourage them to participate in tree planting initiatives.This statement, coupled with what some deem "greenwashing tactics," earned Wirth a spot on The Guardian's list of the top 'climate villains' in 2019.
Beyond his role at Chevron, Wirth's involvement in various organizations underscores his influence in the energy sector. As Chairman of the American Petroleum Institute board and a member of esteemed groups like the National Petroleum Council, Business Roundtable, and the World Economic Forum International Business Council, Wirth plays a key role in shaping industry policies and strategies.
Despite the controversies surrounding Chevron's environmental practices, his dedication to his career is evident. From his early days as a design engineer to becoming the CEO and Chairman of one of the largest energy corporations globally, Wirth's journey reflects the complexities and challenges of leading a major player in the energy sector. His journey has been one of ascent, characterized by both professional success and the ongoing scrutiny that comes with running a business in a time when environmental responsibility is becoming a more important issue.