Matti Lehmus, President and CEO at Neste
Sustainability

Neste’s leadership role in a transformed world

Today marks my first day in the office as President and CEO of Neste, a company founded in 1948 that has grown to become a recognised global leader fighting one of the greatest threats of our times, the climate crisis. I am honoured to lead this great company.

As I begin in the role, I’m looking at things both familiar and unfamiliar. Over the last 20 years I have had the chance to learn about Neste and its people from many different perspectives, from Oil Products to Renewables, and everything in between. My educational background is in chemical and polymer technology and an eMBA.

That’s the familiar.

Then there’s the unfamiliar.

There is no roadmap for our generation of how to navigate life after a years-long pandemic. We have massive uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine. The climate crisis remains a danger for this planet that must be urgently addressed.

I would like to share what makes me an optimist, what inspires me, in spite of the current situation. It is the result of two decades of experience and life at Neste, a company that transformed itself from a local oil refiner established after the Second World War into a global leader in renewable and circular solutions.

I believe that the events of the past few years, and the growing urgency of the climate crisis, have irrevocably changed the world. I also believe that Neste – with its people, capabilities and global presence – has all the tools to thrive in this new world and be a driving force of positive change.

A proven, successful strategy

First, Neste’s renewables growth strategy is delivering excellent results, and our foundations are strong. This is testament to the great work of Neste’s employees and the recent leadership of both my predecessor Peter Vanacker and our departing CFO Jyrki Mäki-Kala.

Today Neste is a globally recognised leader of the sustainable energy transition. We have strong business units backed by relentless research into finding the next innovations to drive our growth. This comes from the vision and courage to start our renewables transformation early, which has given us a head start when it comes to our industry peers. 

We will keep it that way.

A true global player

Second, we have a true global presence and outlook. In recent years we have successfully expanded our production and access to renewable raw materials – in Rotterdam, Singapore and in the US, most notably with our planned joint venture with Marathon Petroleum, which makes us the only global provider of renewable products with a production footprint on three continents. 

In Finland, we continue to invest in Porvoo to make it the most sustainable refinery in Europe by 2030, and are focusing on new technologies such as liquefied waste plastics processing and green hydrogen.

So as I start as CEO we have a lot on our plate in terms of investment and expansion. We will continue with the same purpose, attention to detail and commitment to safety that has served us well so far. We will do this work on our own and with partners, reflecting the scale of the challenge that the climate crisis brings.

Passionate people, inspiring culture

Finally, there is the unique advantage we have that gives us a clear edge versus our rivals: our passionate people and our culture.

I’ve seen this validated again and again over the years, most recently with the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and today our culture is deeply ingrained inside thousands of Neste employees. We have grown quickly and successfully, and our values – we care, we have courage and we cooperate – are the glue that keep us together. 

Neste is a company of innovative, curious and dedicated people. We have a strong focus on our customers and an ability to clearly differentiate from the competition. We listen and debate to make the right, brave choices we can all stand behind. I firmly believe our continued engagement and focus will help us sustain our momentum to advance our growth strategy in this fast-changing environment.

Neste’s purpose and ambition are global, and we have the people who can make an impact – globally.

Maintaining our lead

As I said in the beginning, I believe that the world has changed. There is no going back to our pre-pandemic life. When viewing the severity of the climate crisis, we absolutely cannot go back to that pre-pandemic life.

I also said – and have shown – that Neste has all the tools to not only keep pace with this change, but to actually lead the transformation.

In the coming months, we will review and update our strategy against the backdrop of this new global reality and our successful growth in delivering renewable and circular solutions.

As we do that, we will continue to enhance our competitiveness and leverage our renewables head start to further differentiate from competitors, while keeping the needs of our customers – and the planet – in focus.

And naturally, we will remain a sustainability leader with the industry’s most ambitious targets and vision. This is the only responsible way to do business.

Neste is a company that time and again has shown the foresight and bravery to set out on its own path, even in difficult times, and succeed. I am proud to say that we will stay true to this heritage as we begin the next phase of our company.

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