DALLAS (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. will promote insider Darren Woods to chairman and CEO, replacing Rex Tillerson, who is leaving the oil giant after President-elect Donald Trump picked him to become secretary of state.
Woods, 51, has been with Exxon for nearly a quarter-century. He rose through Exxon’s refinery and chemicals businesses and emerged as Tillerson’s likely successor a year ago, when he was named president and joined the board of directors.
The company announced Wednesday that Woods will take over the top spot on Jan. 1.
Tillerson was expected to step down in early 2017, when he will hit Exxon’s mandatory retirement age of 65. His selection by Trump for the nation’s top diplomatic job — subject to Senate confirmation — pushed up the timing.
Many analysts expect an orderly transition at Exxon, with few significant changes in policy or leadership style under Woods.
Because of Exxon’s huge size, strategic decisions are made with a long time frame in view. The Irving, Texas-based company is known for taking a cautious, methodical approach to decision-making, and changes in direction usually happen only slowly.
Woods “has been groomed for a couple years to be the replacement,” said Stewart Glickman, an analyst for CFRA Research.
“He is a 24-year (Exxon) veteran, and I think he probably understands the culture pretty well. I don’t think there is much of a hitch for Exxon.”