Introduction by the Chair
The resilience that DSM had demonstrated during 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic was shown once more in 2021. My colleagues and I on the Supervisory Board witnessed the company’s care for its employees, its commitment to its customers, and its determination to keep creating brighter lives for all. In the process, DSM delivered another excellent operating result — a considerable achievement in a demanding and sometimes difficult operating environment.
It is against this background that I would like to thank my predecessor Rob Routs, who first joined the Supervisory Board in April 2010 and was appointed Chair in May 2011. Rob retired as Chair and member of the Supervisory Board at the close of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 6 May 2021. Under his guidance, DSM continued its evolution into the purpose-led, performance-driven company it is today. We all owe a profound debt of gratitude to Rob for his deep insights, wise counsel and unfailing collegiality over the course of 11 years of service. We wish him every success for the future.
For my part, I am proud to have the opportunity to follow in Rob’s footsteps as the company tackles some of the biggest challenges facing our world today. I would like to thank my colleagues on the Supervisory Board for their confidence in electing me as Chair, and I pledge to serve DSM to the utmost of my abilities. Since joining the Supervisory Board in May 2020, I have seen what a remarkable company DSM is — genuinely purpose-led and performance-driven in everything it does.
Despite the challenges created by the continuing pandemic in 2021, it was a pleasure for me to work with my colleagues on the Supervisory Board, and of course also with the Co-CEOs and the Executive Committee, throughout the year. Our interactions are characterized by an open style which encourages everyone to contribute their experience and expertise and, equally, allows everyone to raise challenges where these might be appropriate. I valued the regular interactions with our Co-CEOs Geraldine Matchett and Dimitri de Vreeze and also the direct and transparent interaction between the Supervisory Board and the Executive Committee.
Most of our meetings were, of necessity, virtual, but it was possible for me and my new Supervisory Board colleagues Carla Mahieu and Corien Wortmann-Kool to arrange visits to the Brightlands Campus in Geleen (Netherlands) as well as to the DSM site in Delft (Netherlands), during which we had the chance to visit the DSM Biotech Center.
In October, the Supervisory Board and Executive Committee also benefited from a site visit to DSM Austria GmbH — founded in 2021 after the 2020 acquisition of Erber Group, including Biomin and Romer Labs. We saw at first hand how the acquisition has further strengthened DSM’s position in mycotoxin risk management and as a leading provider of sustainable feed and animal health solutions. It was an impressive experience, revealing a close congruence between the cultures of DSM and Erber. Interactions with our new colleagues were open and honest and it was good to see that the integration was well on track.
In September, DSM announced its strategic decision to focus its resources and capabilities to address the urgent societal and environmental challenges linked to the way the world produces and consumes food. This led to the decision to simplify the company’s operating structure and reorganize its Health, Nutrition & Bioscience activities into three Business Groups, each with clear opportunities to benefit the health of people, the health of the planet and healthy livelihoods while supporting our growth plans. At the same time, we confirmed we had started a review of strategic options for our Materials businesses.
I am excited at the opportunities for our three new market-focused Business Groups — Food & Beverage; Health, Nutrition & Care; and Animal Nutrition & Health — which commenced active operation with effect from 1 January 2022. Each Business Group will be closely aligned with its respective customers and equipped to develop impactful, science-based, market-ready innovation at speed. I am also delighted that we took the bold step to define a range of specific and measurable Food System Commitments, along with accelerated sustainability targets. All these measures, which have the full support of the Supervisory Board, will help DSM to continue to live out its mantra of ‘doing well by doing good.’
As we look back on a year that brought challenges for so many people worldwide, I am pleased that our commitment to Safety, Health and Environment remained as strong as ever, delivering positive results across our global operations. I am glad to report that in 2021 our Frequency Index of Recordable Injuries improved to 0.22, versus a target of <0.24.
It only remains for me to thank our Co-CEOs, our Executive Committee and my colleagues on the Supervisory Board for their service to DSM in 2021, our employees for all their hard work and commitment, and also the many stakeholders who continue to place their trust in our company. We can look back on 2021 with satisfaction; and can look forward to 2022 with a strengthened sense of purpose. I am excited at the opportunities for our three market-focused Business Groups.
Thomas Leysen, Chair of the Supervisory Board