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Isabelle Kocher – can she lead a historic turnaround at ENGIE?

K.B.S. Kumar (Department of HR and Soft Skills, ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad, India)

Publication date: 15 June 2021


Study level/applicability

MS / MBA / Executive Education

Subject area


Case overview

In 2019, French multinational electric utility company, ENGIE SA (ENGIE) was on the verge of zero carbon transition. Under the leadership of Isabelle Kocher (Kocher) who became the CEO in 2016, ENGIE embarked on an arduous journey toward re-profiling ENGIE toward renewable, low-carbon energies, such as solar, green gases and digital. Kocher inherited a loss-making company and took in on a path of transformation toward a company with business lines for future. This meant ENGIE would slowly move out of energy generation through non-renewable sources, toward renewables along with storage and digital technologies. This case chronicles Kocher’s turnaround plans and investments, and explains how she went about making ENGIE a forerunner in energy revolution. While the turnaround was on track, ENGIE was unable to give returns as expected. With mounting pressure Kocher announced a strategic plan in 2019, which reemphasized ENGIE’s focus on renewables and technology. But several major shareholders including the Government of France were not impressed with the plan. It is time Kocher proves that transformation of ENGIE into a clean power company also means returns for the shareholders.

Expected learning outcomes

The outcomes are as follows: First, to illustrate how leaders bring in change and innovation in large well-established companies. It shows the role of leaders in leading the innovation process and in molding the companies according to the opportunities and threats presented by the macro environment. Second, to analyze the role of a leader in bringing changes in the organization. Third, to understand the strategies used by energy companies as they position their businesses in the context of a changing energy landscape.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Note

Social implications

Renewable Energy – Growing cocnern about the impact of climate change on the world at large, has brought to the fore the importance of renewable energy.

Subject code

CSS 4: Environmental management



Disclaimer. This case is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. The case was compiled from published sources.


Kumar, K.B.S. (2021), "Isabelle Kocher – can she lead a historic turnaround at ENGIE?", .



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, K.B.S. Kumar.

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