Andrew N. Liveris, President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company
interviewed by James S. Turley, Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young
Making it in America: Andrew Liveris looks to the future
Andrew N. Liveris’ vision of America’s future draws on its past.
Liveris sees a country that is a manufacturing powerhouse and proud of it, a country that understands the vital link between manufacturing and innovation. He sees a country that is home to hundreds of Silicon Valleys.
“People don’t understand what manufacturing is,” Liveris, President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company, said Saturday afternoon at the Forum during a chat with Jim Turley, Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young. “It’s an American right, we have done this for the last 200 years, and we’re saying this doesn’t matter? “Go to the UK and see how that’s worked out for them.”
Liveris, the author of Make It In America, is an optimist, but he isn’t shy about describing the challenges ahead. Among them are education — there simply aren’t enough Americans being trained in the sciences.
“The immigration debate is so ludicrous,” said Liveris, a native of Australia. “This country is based on immigration.”
Putting muscle into manufacturing
Government has a role to play in boosting manufacturing, and Liveris is a part of that effort as a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. The initiative brings together industry, universities and the federal government to identify and invest in emerging technologies to build America’s industry and job base. One manufacturing job brings 5 to 8 jobs outside the factory — a “powerful multiplier,” Liveris noted.
Does government have a role in all of the above?
“In this world, you can’t have big government or small government anymore,” Liveris said. “It’s smart government.” And industry needs to be at the table to solve these issues.
His job is to motivate and inspire as if Dow was a small company. He works to infuse the workforce with a sense of mission, to lead change and build a team around the change paradigm. So far, he says, his record is mixed: Using baseball terms, he says Dow is in the 7th or 8th inning of change from a portfolio standpoint, but in the 2nd or 3rd inning from a culture standpoint — and, as the saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
Making sustainability real
Part of that change involves empowering a culture of corporate sustainability. For Liveris, “sustainable business and a sustainable profit and a sustainable profit are the same thing.” One day, he says, Dow Chemical will be known simply as Dow.
“Until we have another planet to go to,” he said, “it’s our responsibility to have a long-term cost of ownership, that the ROI isn’t just the current “I.”
Andrew N. Liveris is President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Dow Chemical Company, a $60 billion global specialty chemical, advanced material, agrosciences and plastics company based in Midland, Michigan. An advocate for the criticality of manufacturing, Liveris serves as Co-Chair of President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and is the author of Make It in America, which presents a comprehensive set of practical policy solutions and business strategies for reviving this important sector. In recognition of his efforts in this area, Liveris was honored with the 2011 Distinguished Performance Award for Excellence in Public Policy from the Committee for Economic Development and the 2011 International Leadership Award from the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). Liveris sits on the boards of directors of IBM and the International Special Olympics, is Vice Chairman of The Business Council, Vice Chair of the Business Roundtable and a member of the President’s Export Council. He is the President and Chairman of the Board of the International Council of Chemical Associations and serves as a trustee for the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, USCIB and Tufts University. A chemical engineering graduate, Liveris continues to support his alma mater as the inaugural Chair of the University of Queensland in America Foundation.