Meet Jean-Marc, Vice President, Social Business & Societal at Total. So just what does his job entail? Jean-Marc starts with an explanation of his title. “In French, the word ‘Societal’ covers relations with external stakeholders. In English, people tend to use broader terms such as ‘Social Responsibility’ or ‘Social Performance’. We’re trying to promote “Societal” as a more precise term in English, and it’s beginning to gain some traction.
Social Business means a project created and designed to address a social problem. Total has developed a social business project called Awango that involves selling solar lamps (and other solar solutions, such as phone re-chargers and in the future, solar kiosks). The idea is to be financially self-sustainable, with profits reinvested in the project itself, to increase the social impact.
I work on Societal Engagement, part of Total’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. Our CSR strategy is an integral part of our business and operations. It plays a critical role in addressing risk management challenges, facilitating day-to-day operations and creating opportunities in our host countries. To ensure that its CSR strategy is implemented in a consistent way, Total has developed formal procedures as described in such documents as the Code of Conduct and the HSEQ Charter.
I am a geologist by training. I have a doctoral degree in Geology from Paris-Orsay University and graduated from the French engineering school, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Pétroles et des Moteurs (ENSPM). In my role, it’s important to have the ability to listen, respect for cultural differences, an open mind towards different ways of looking at things and humility too.
Total has offered me a wealth of opportunities during my career. I started as a geologist in a highly specialized technical part of the business. Then I led projects and managed teams outside France for more than 15 years in Exploration. After that, I oversaw a Geosciences Research Center, managed teams of technical expertise within E&P, was responsible for business in Eastern Europe and Russia and served as General Secretary of Total E&P in Angola. I then took charge of the Societal department, first at E&P and now at the Corporate Unit. My personal ambitions concerning my career path and its diversity have been fulfilled.
We haven’t had enough time yet to get a good understanding of the importance of ‘societal careers’. I think it’s important to work in Societal for a while and then go back to an operational or business-focused position. Ideally, you’d want to move back and forth while progressing in your career. That way, you can stat business oriented, bringing operational experiences to human socio-economic projects.
What I like most about my work is the diverse range of interesting people I get to work with, from my team and other Total’s teams, to external stakeholders. The most surprising thing has been the high-quality technical level of the very easy-to-use solar lamps we distribute. The poorest people need the highest quality products.”