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What You Can Learn From Dow Chemical’s CEO

Andrew Liveris became CEO of Dow Chemical in 2004 and, over the past 8 years, he has transformed the 115 year old Dow from a commodity petrochemical and plastics company into a branded, science based company. This past year, Dow had record sales of $60 billion and a 19% increase in earnings per share (29% increase excluding certain items). Here are a few lessons that other CEOs can learn from Liveris:

Long a proponent for domestic manufacturing, Liveris, who has more than 30 years experience in manufacturing in a globally competitive industry, challenges conventional wisdom about the future of U.S. industry. His book “Making It in America” underscores the case for re-inventing the economy—something he has pursued in Dow Chemical, a $60 billion global speciality chemical, advanced materials, agosciences and plastics company based in Midland, MI. Further:

1) He started with strategy and making conscious decisions about what businesses Dow should be in. Based on an analysis of the size, profitability and growth potential, of each potential sector, Liveris altered Dow’s portfolio – led him to deemphasize commodity chemicals and focus on growth areas such as clean energy, water, electronic materials, water and agriculture.

2) He created an innovation culture and changed the company’s hiring and rewards systems to foster innovation

3) While he focused on in R&D as critical drivers of innovation (and spent $9 billion on R&D in the past 5 years), he also looked at other parts of the business that could benefit from innovation, such as marketing (implemented a branding strategy and central themes such as sustainability and innovative client solutions) and recruiting.

4) In addition to innovating to drive revenues, innovation can be used to reduce costs. Liveris has instituted innovation programs to improve operational and overhead efficiencies and added over $500 million in extra cash flow this past year through these efforts.

Meet Andrew Liveris and discuss with him and other CEOs (including the CEOs of Brocade, Shutterfly, Brocade, HIS, Genomic Health and Razorfish among others) how they are transforming their companies and how they would deal with the obstacles and challenges you face in leading your company at this year’s CEO2CEO Summit in San Francisco on October 23rd and 24th. For more information on this important CEO only event, visit http://www.chiefexecutive.net/ceo2ceowest




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