Governing Body Spotlight

Co-Chair of the Benelux CIO Community

Owen O'Connell

SVP and CIO Information Digital Services & Operations


As of 1st April 2023, Owen O'Connell is the SVP and CIO Information Digital Services and Operations for Shell. He is focused on accelerating the energy transition, leveraging enterprise technology as the digital fabric to scale their customer solutions, built on a foundation of reliable, competitive and adaptable enterprise and business capabilities across all of Shell's businesses and functions.

Learn more about the Benelux CIO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

My career in IT started with IBM, where I honed my early development across Retail, Supply & Distribution sectors and then with Cable & Wireless and Serco in Telecommunications and Government services domains. In Shell, I have had the opportunity to work across a wide range of transformation, delivery and operations leadership roles, most recently as SVP and CIO for our Upstream business and Projects & Technology directorate.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

If you break it, you fix it. If not broken, could it be made better? Priority order is company, function/team and then self… invest in all for sustained success. Today's impossible is tomorrow's normal… keep challenging yourself.

What is the greatest challenge CIOs face today, and how are you addressing it?

The greatest challenge is meeting and exceeding the expectations of today's CIO. The demands have never been higher, and with it, a performance level that is directly contributing to the bottom line is the norm. Ensuring that business outcomes, anchored to our overall strategy, are the basis of the enterprise IT and Digital roadmaps and investments is key.

What is the key to success for someone just starting out as a CIO?

Take a breath, get to know your organisation and stakeholder communities, invest in your leadership team's purpose and contribution expectation, and don't rush to make an immediate impact – identify the 2 or 3 key areas where you can leave a longer term legacy of sustained success.

How do you measure success as a leader?

Do you deliver on your promises? Have you made a lasting positive impact on the culture and potential of your organisation? Do you pay forward through investing in future talent?

What is the value of being a member of the Evanta community?

Learning from others is critical for personal and professional growth. Diversity of thought and approaches is what this community provides, and who knows where the next breakthrough opportunity has already been delivered by a peer?!

Evanta Governing Body members share their insights and leadership perspectives to shape the agendas and topics that address the top priorities impacting business leaders today.

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