Thoughts on key industry issues by Dr. Markus Steilemann, CCO Covestro

Thoughts on key industry issues  by Dr. Markus Steilemann, CCO Covestro 05.11.2017

How important do you think digitization will be in value creation in the chemical industry, and will job opportunities be transformed?

Digitization and the Internet of Things are increasingly becoming growth drivers in the chemical industry, and Covestro is actively exploiting their advantages and shaping their development. For the chemical industry, digitization has a measurable effect in value creation towards the business customer. Many digital tools and methods assist in strengthening the customer relationship, making customers better in doing their business.

Covestro is anchoring digital technologies and operating procedures on central levels: in production, supply chain, research and development, at all points of contact with customers and in developing new business models. Taking this into account, new job opportunities especially in data mining and data engineering will emerge


How can the chemical industry attract and retain the best talent?

Especially innovation and sustainability provide a great basis for both, attracting and retaining talented employees. Innovation and sustainability are major drivers for “generation Y” and “generation Z”, the basis of future talent. Also helpful is to offer different opportunities and benefits in order to motivate people to unlock their full potential. We emphasize lifelong learning and won’t keep employees in their original positions for too long, but strive to give them the opportunity to develop into different areas they are interested in and that contribute to our company´s success.


Can the industry retain its focus on innovation and R&D investment in the current climate?

The chemical industry can and will provide answers to major trends and challenges shaping the global economy and society. For this end, it must continue focusing on innovation and R&D investment. For example, climate change needs renewable energy and lower energy buildings. Urbanization calls for energy efficient lighting and sustainable living. Population growth requires new solutions for food preservation. Increasing mobility needs new mobility solutions as well as new low emission engines. Digitization will impact every aspect of the chemical industry and offers opportunities for new products and services.


Will the chemical industry continue to see more consolidation?

No doubt M&A continues transforming the chemical industry. Although there have been waves of consolidation – as recently in industrial gases and agrochemicals – most deals in the past were driven by the intention to create value through portfolio streamlining. In other words, breaking up diversified conglomerates and selling off or separating businesses which have not much in common was driving many M&A activities. This has led to the formation of companies with a very synergistic and streamlined portfolio and strong positions in their respective value chains. Another key industry trend is portfolio shifts towards more downstream, specialized and differentiated products. Creating value is of essence in this context – and here not all deals are delivered yet.

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