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Engine No. 1 Exxon Pick Is a Different Kind of Climate Activist

  • Kaisa Hietala won a board seat in a contentious vote on May 26
  • World won’t go fossil-free overnight, she says in interview
Kaisa Hietala in Finland on May 31.
Kaisa Hietala in Finland on May 31.Photographer: Roni Rekomaa/Bloomberg

One of the newest faces at Exxon Mobil Corp., Kaisa Hietala, wants to make sure she’s not misunderstood as she’s propelled to sudden fame in a battle between climate activists and the oil industry.

The 50-year-old Finn -- unknown to corporate America until last month -- won her boardroom seat at Exxon after a campaign by activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 convinced BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group Inc. and other key investors to back her in a contentious vote.