He has only been at the helm for three years and it is easy to see this latest crisis as a legacy of the previous way of doing things rather than an indication of how he runs the company, writes CNN anchor / correspondent Richard Quest, in his exclusive column on domain-b
I have spent much of the past week swinging on a pendulum over the BP oil spill and the plight of Tony Hayward, the CEO.
Hayward is bearing the brunt of criticism for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and I can't decide if that is fair or not. One moment I swing towards the view that, as CEO, he must carry the can. Then I swing the other way and believe it is unfair to beat up on Hayward. He has only been in the job three years and had no personal responsibility for this disaster.
Of course Hayward hasn't exactly helped matters with some ill chosen phrases. First he said that there was a lot more water in the Gulf than there was oil or dispersants. On another occasion he said there would be ''very, very modest'' long-term environmental impact from the spill. And most recently, in frustration he said he too was looking forward to getting his life back.
But speaking such words to people whose way of life may be destroyed, is crass at best. It is not surprising that Hayward has apologised profusely.
But hang on – once again my pendulum is swinging the other way and I think, which one of us wouldn't make the odd silly comment if we were under the pressures he is under? He has conducted dozens of interviews and briefings. Should we condemn him for a few ill chosen words that were taken out of context?
Tony Hayward is an oil man through and through. From his degree to his life-long career at BP he knows his industry backwards. He was made CEO to tighten up the company which had been running wayward and involved in too many safety scandals. He has only been at the helm for three years and it is easy to see this latest crisis as a legacy of the previous way of doing things rather than an indication of how he runs the company.