Build on Your Strengths

By Kathie Canning, Executive Managing Editor



Not too many years ago, a number of chemical companies were still flaunting the "bigger is better" mindset. These companies gobbled up smaller operations during an extended feeding frenzy ," a frenzy that left many of them suffering from acquisition heartburn.

The acquisitions and divestitures of late, however, lead me to believe this mindset is a thing of the past. Today's mantra seems to be: "Build on your strengths."

Chemical companies are taking a much more cautious and focused approach to product and service offerings ," acquiring operations that best complement existing core competencies and divesting those that fall outside self-defined areas of expertise.

For example, Rohm and Haas Co. recently signed an agreement to acquire the plastics additives business of Japan's Kureha Chemical Industry Co. The acquisition will not transport the specialty chemical manufacturer into unknown product territory, but instead will complement its existing plastics additives business and strengthen its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Shell Chemicals, on the other hand, has been streamlining operations, going from 21 businesses at 54 sites in 1998 to 11 businesses at 18 sites in 2002. During a recent press tour of Shell's Geismar, La., plant, President and CEO Fran Keeth said the company would be focusing on "simpler structures" and "site maximization" to ensure success in the years to come. Essentially, Shell Chemicals plans to concentrate on its strengths.

"Build on your strengths" should not be limited to corporate strategy. As 2002 winds down and 2003 looms, now might be a good time to identify your personal job-related strengths and refine those talents.

And a few targeted job-related "acquisitions and divestitures" could significantly enhance your creativity, productivity and personal satisfaction.

Perhaps it's time to divest of those tasks you abhor ," or with which you struggle. Could a co-worker perform them better? How about acquiring a few new responsibilities that mesh well with your interests and skills? Fresh challenges can do wonders in boosting job interest and performance.

Of course, job "tweaking" is not in the cards for everyone. But if you are one of the lucky ones with a flexible culture that encourages open dialogue, such changes truly could be an option.

Not sure where your strengths lie? Carole Nicolaides of Progressive Leadership provides some excellent suggestions to help you pin down your personal strengths at Or you might want to check out Now, Discover Your Strengths, a book by The Gallup Organization's Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.

By the way ...

Chemical Processing is the proud recipient of a silver award for overall editorial excellence. The award was presented during Folio: magazine's 2002 Editorial Excellence Awards presentation in New York and honors Chemical Processing's April 2001 issue.

We're delighted to be rewarded for our efforts.


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