By Max Clarke

The chief executive of one of the world’s most controversial companies has been urged to “think about his legacy” after he was accused of ignoring African children’s pleas to stop toxic pollution from a mine.

Ivan Glasenberg, who became an instant billionaire when Glencore International listed on the London Stock Exchange last week, should seize the opportunity to use his “enormous influence and power” for the good of the world.

Niamh O’Keeffe, founder of leadership consultancy CEOassist, said the sensitivity and controversy surrounding Glencore’s industry made it more vital than in many other sectors for the chief executive to put in place a lasting legacy of good.

Niamh, who works with CEOs in the UK and United States, said: “Glencore has received some appalling press coverage during the lead up to its listing on the London Stock Exchange culminating in last week’s allegations in The Times that the CEO had failed to respond to ten African children who had written begging him to stop the pollution from a mine that was blighting their lives.

“On the day this was being reported around the world, Glencore was listing and Mr Glasenberg became an instant billionaire with a personal fortune of almost £6billion.”

Niamh O’Keeffe says Mr Glasenberg is one of many examples of CEOs who fail to understand the importance and value in thinking about the legacy they will leave when their time as CEO comes to an end.

Niamh added: “Mr Glasenberg will probably never wield as much authority again. He is the head of a hugely powerful and wealthy organisation and someone who has a real opportunity to help make the world a better place for so many people.

“The world’s media has got its teeth into Glencore and there is clearly an appetite to find more damaging and negative news stories.

“However, by putting in place a legacy of good, Mr Glasenberg has the opportunity to show its critics that Glencore actually has a desire to be a positive force in the world rather than one which is merely out to maximise the returns for its shareholders and Mr Glasenberg personally.”

Niamh said there were only a handful of CEOs who understood the importance of leaving a legacy with Virgin boss Richard Branson probably the highest profile, in particular for committing to invest $1billion in developing alternative fuels.

Niamh, who has launched an initiative to help CEOs develop a leadership legacy, said: “Becoming CEO often means achieving a lifetime’s ambition and the reality is that for most this is the moment they will be at their most powerful and influential. For some CEOs, it could even be their last job at the end of a successful career.

“Creating a world leadership legacy is about something much more long term and really leveraging the power and influence of an organisation and the individual at the top to bring about change for the better within a particular country or globally.”