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Working in the issues-rich environment of the extractive industry’s, Dave Samson has taken a frequently feisty approach to protecting Chevron’s reputation, particularly around the most high-profile threat to the company’s image: charges related to the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian rain forest.
But Samson leads a team is responsible for all aspects of corporate communications, including media relations, employee communications, executive communications and issues management, as well as corporate branding and advertising. And he has built his own reputation within the company and within the industry as a whole, recently serving as chairman of the board of trustees for the Arthur W Page Society and receiving the Plank Center Award for mentorship.
It’s been quite a journey from Levi Strauss & Co, where Samson had some early in-house experience—and expertise in corporate responsibility—after working at Denver-based public relations firm MGA Communications. He joined Chevron from Oracle Corporation, where he was vice president of international public relations and executive communications. Prior to joining Oracle, he was a partner at Ketchum, where he oversaw the agency’s San Francisco operations; and director of international communications at IBM.
Can you share a moment in your career that you recognized PR's direct impact on business performance?
When Chevron acquired Unocal in 2004. After the Chinese made an 11th hour bid, the deal team (including communications and government affairs) were able to convince the Street that $63 a share from Chevron was a more certain deal than $63 from the Chinese. That saved the company $2 billion and helped secure the acquisition.
What are the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Keeping pace with the rapidly changing business, social and political landscape, coupled with dramatic technological change. For those that can navigate this environment, there is huge opportunity.
How do you handle the unexpected?
Stay calm and agile.
How do you relax?
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A mystery writer living on a ranch in the Colorado Rockies.
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