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Smiths Group shakes up governance and eliminates CSO role

John Ostergren stepping down as CSO; Kini Pathmanathan named Head of Excellence and Sustainability.
Melodie Michel
Smiths Group shakes up governance and eliminates CSO role
Kini Pathmanathan has been named Head of Smiths Excellence and Sustainability

Smiths Group’s first Chief Sustainability Officer, John Ostergren, is stepping down and will be replaced by Kini Pathmanathan as Head of Smiths Excellence and Sustainability on May 1st as the company restructures its sustainability governance.

Just over two years after creating a Chief Sustainability Officer role, the company is eliminating it and combining its sustainability and excellence functions “to drive higher performance and a stronger company culture”.

"It has been a pleasure and honour to help launch sustainability at Smiths," Ostergren tells CSO Futures.

Along with Ostergren, Tony Tielen, Director of Smiths Excellence System, will also be leaving at the beginning of May.

Pathmanathan will be based in London and part of Smiths Group’s Executive Committee, reporting to CEO Roland Carter. She joined the group in 2017 as Vice President of Human Resources at Smiths Detection and Smiths APAC, and led human resources at Smiths’ mechanical sealing solutions business unit, John Crane, in 2023.

Before that, she worked in human resources at Thales UK for 18 years. 

“Kini is joining our Executive Committee at an exciting time as we continue to identify opportunities for further growth and value creation. I look forward to welcoming Kini, whose deep experience in strategic leadership and continuous improvement will be invaluable to our future growth story,” said Carter.

John Ostergren to leave Smiths Group

Ostergren was appointed as the company’s first CSO in 2022, coming from a legal background including more than 12 years at manufacturing conglomerate 3M. In the two years following his appointment, the firm published its first sustainability framework, got net zero targets approved by SBTi and reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by almost 12%. 

Speaking to CSO Futures last November, he emphasised the importance of “creating value for people” in order to drive sustainable change at a legacy company employing 16,000 people worldwide. “In order to do that in an authentic way, you really need to understand the people you're representing as CSO (…) You want to be the solutions enabler, not the scold,” he added, explaining why getting to know the company and its employees deeply was one of his first priorities.

The appointment of an HR veteran to lead the next phase of sustainability by placing an emphasis on culture suggests that Smiths agrees. In a statement, the company hailed Pathmanathan’s "significant experience in continuous improvement, change and transformation”.