After 15 years as their Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Louis Chaussade became Chairman of Suez in 2019. In 2016, he was co-opted by the UTC’s Academic Board of Directors and appointed President. His mandate was renewed in December 2021 for a period of 4 years.
With a father who was a Government Prefect, he naturally moved houses around a lot during his childhood. First it was Châlonssur- Marne where he was born, then Algiers where his father was appointed Secretary General of Algeria, Montpellier and finally Rouen. Raised by the Jesuits in the town of Sarlat (Dordogne), the country from which his family came, Chaussade’s father wanted the same type of education for his sona. His parents therefore opted for the private La Providence Lycée in Amiens. A point in common with the E Macron, President of the French Republic.
After seven years at boarding school and two years of preparatory classes, Jean-Louis Chaussade entered the École supérieure de travaux publics (ESTP) in Paris. “In 1976, my last year of engineering studies, I wanted to broaden my horizon by preparing a master’s degree in economics at the Sorbonne,” he explains. From then on, his horizons never ceased to expand. After his military service, he was hired in 1978 by Degrémont, a company specialised in water treatment, which later became a subsidiary of the Suez Group and saw him as expatriate to Jamaica for a year. Upon returning to France, he decided to study at “Sciences Po”, graduating in 1981.
It’s about making sure that the board works according to the rules; that all the board’s stakeholders listen to and understand each other and to involve the whole board in the UTC’s strategic thinking about its partners.
From that pointy on, his career really took off. He became successively project engineer and manager of the Group’s international subsidiaries, and once again sought and found more new career paths. “Following an ETA firebomb explosion that destroyed everything — no more plans, no more accounting, etc. — in our subsidiary in Bilbao, he decided to take the plunge. — I was called in to restore some degree of order and get the situation back on a more stable footing,” he explains. Mission accomplished, Jean-Louis Chaussade set off again for new horizons and became, in a way, a “Mr. Recovery” for companies that were going downhill. “After Bilbao returned to normal, I was called to Barcelona to salvage Dumez Copisa, subsidiary of the Dumez group in Barcelona, which had just merged with Lyonnaise des Eaux,” he says. “In 1997, we headed for South America. First it was Argentina, where the group had won the water distribution and sanitation contract in Buenos Aires, to which the concessions in Cordoba and Santa Fé had just been added. But little by little, the scope of my responsibilities was extended to other South American countries such as Bolivia and Chile,’ he points out.
Returning to France, in 2004 he became managing director of Suez, upgrading this group into a company listed on the CAC 40 (top 40 on the Paris Exchange) in September 2008 before finally being appointed their chairman in 2019.
What is his vision of his role as Chairman of the Board? “It is to ensure that the Board functions according to the rules; that all the stakeholders of the Board listen to and understand each other and to involve the whole Board in the strategic reflection of UTC in regard to its partners – the Hauts-de-France regional authorities, the other French Technology intensive Universities (UTBM and UTT), the Sorbonne University Cluster, etc. -, its internationalization, the integration of sustainable development or AI and big data in the curricula”. In 2016, Jean-Louis Chaussade was promoted to the rank of Officer of the French Legion of Honour.