An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. This idiom may seem out of place in the chemical industry — but Thomas H. Lane, president elect of the American Chemical Society (http://www.acs.org), Washington, D.C., and director, global science and technology outreach and senior research scientist at Dow Corning Corp. (http://www.dowcorning.com), Midland, Mich., says the meaning behind the idiom is very important if those in the chemical industry want to weather the tough economy and keep their jobs.
Presenting at a teleconference for the ACS Careers Industry Forum, the Jan. 8, 2009, session marked Lane’s first public address since being elected president. The topic of his session: “Mastering the Necessary Skills for the Present and for the Future.”
Lane noted that it’s not necessarily your appearance that should concern you. Indeed, he poked fun at his own hair-do. But rather, it’s the image you portray regarding your passion for what you do.
“Find out what excites you — what gets you out of bed in the morning,” says Lane. “What is your passion? You need this fire to keep you going in this tough economy.”
And if people see your passion — coupled with your productivity, they may be hard pressed to cut you from the team.
Lane also outlined a list of seven Cs to further cement your place in the industry. While some may see these as soft skills, Lane stresses they are essential skills:
• Competence — It’s very important to reinforce your competency in the field. Make sure you continually learn by reading, attending meetings and asking questions.
• Courage — You need to be able to lead in new directions and take risks. Failure goes hand-in-hand with courage. The key is knowing how to fail and then continue on your way.
• Collaboration — The chemical industry crosses many disciplines and the teams are very dynamic. Having the ability to span many boundaries is a critical tool.
• Communication — All significant transactions occur between humans. It’s important to have good communication skills to influence outcomes.
• Commitment — Staying the course will bring great reward.
• Competitive — You don’t have to sabotage the competition. But you must be motivated to be successful.
• Creativity — Force yourself to think outside of the box. Lane quoted Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”