- Category : 1888-births
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 2
Dutch industrialist who also played tennis for the Netherlands in the 1906 Olympics in Athens, losing his first match to future Olympic champion Max Decugis.
Kessler was born into a very wealthy family, the second son of six children. His father Jean Baptiste August Kessler (1853–1900) was the first director of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Petroleum Maatschappij (Royal Dutch Petroleum Company), now named Royal Dutch Shell. Guus studied engineering at Delft University.
Both Guus and his older brother Geldolph Adriaan Kessler were considered the "crown princes" of the Royal Dutch, but after their father died unexpectedly they had to work under their father's domineering successor, Henri Deterding. Dolf eventually left, at the urging of his fiance, and helped create and lead the Dutch steel company Hoogovens. Guus, by contrast, seemed to get along better with Deterding.
The two brothers, as leading figures in two major Dutch business concerns, at one point formed a joint venture between the Hoogovens and Royal Dutch Shell to combat a threat to the oil business by IG Farben. Guus, who became a director of Royal Dutch in 1923, was instrumental in leading Shell into the petroleum-based chemicals business.
Guus was the "obvious candidate" to lead Royal Dutch Shell after Deterding was forced out in 1936, but instead he was passed over in favour of a compromise choice. He eventually achieved his dream and became director-general of Royal Dutch Shell in the years 1947-1949, retiring at age 60. For the next 12 years, he served as president-commissioner of the company.
Guus and his first wife, Anna Francoise "Ans" Kessler-Stoop (1889–1983), had five daughters and one son. Ans was a noted collector of modern art, advised by her uncle C. Frank Stoop, and donated to the Tate Collection a substantial portfolio that included works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani and Edgar Degas. The marriage of Guus and Ans ended in divorce. He married Thalia "Lia" de Kempenaer (1917–2000) in 1948.
He died in The Hague on 5 November 1972.