Louis Chenevert made Strides at UTC with his Leadership Skills

Louis Chenevert: Understanding Industry

Business, Business Leader

 There is a set path to leadership that most businesses follow pretty closely. It is the established way in society to work your way up after years in the company. Again, in doing so, after years and years of service, it eventually will pay off with the person being provided a chance to be one of the leaders in the company. With many businesses this is the case, but there are others where putting in thirty years will get you a gold watch and send you off into retirement.

It is important to keep an eye on the prize. If you want a chance at becoming a leader in your company, take some notice on if they hire the bosses from within or bring them from outside the company. If they bring them from outside the company, don’t fret. It does not mean they will never consider you down the road. But make your ambition known to upper management that you would like to move up the ladder. Make yourself stand out from the rest of the pack. Don’t assume that they will notice your hard work or reward it.

Former production manager Louis Chenevert, a Canadian businessman, always knew in his head that he would would like to move up the ladder. In fact, the quicker the better. There is no written rule that says you have to work a certain amount of years before you are entitled to a management position. Chenevert obtained his bachelor’s degree in production management from HEC Montreal, a business school well known for training people for management positions.

Chenevert worked nearly 15 years for General Motors in production management. During this time, he became Production General Manager there. He had taken some years to make his name known, but when a new opportunity arose, he jumped on it.

Chenevert joined the aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. This company’s main focus was building aircraft engines. They were not doing too well at the time, but with Chenevert’s help, they started turning it all around. Pratt & Whitney soon developed a larger share in the aerospace industry. After only six years there, Chenevert was hired as the new president of Pratt & Whitney.

Pratt & Whitney belonged to a much larger company known as United Technologies Corporation (UTC). UTC has many industries that they are involved in. They do aerospace engineering, HVAC, and have numerous military contracts. Chenevert made his presence known through his work with Pratt & Whitney. UTC definitely took notice. By 2006, he was elected the president and CEO of UTC. Chenevert’s successful rise was due to hard work, but also sharing his knowledge and opinion with those around him. He hadn’t played it safe, and in his case, it paid off greatly.

Too many employees become yes men and just repeat whatever they believe the boss of the company would like to hear. It takes a bit of guts to offer your own advice, especially when your advice was not asked for. This could be a quick way to exit the company through them firing you or letting you go, but it could also become known in the company that you are a problem solver. Chenevert became known as the latter in a short amount of time.

During Chenevert’s time as the CEO of UTC, he brought the company’s share price from $37 to $117. He more than tripled the worth of every single share. He also went on to bring on a merger with Goodrich, putting UTC even more on the map. It was a $16.3 billion dollar merger. It really made UTC a powerhouse in numerous industries. Being able to work with both the private sector and the military sector was an absolute blessing. The military sector can offer continuous jobs, while the private sector can be a bit finicky sometimes. Having a foot in the door with both sectors really protected the profitability of the company.

Once you reach the top of any company, you have a decision to make. Do you continue being the leader of the company and keep pedaling along until the wheels come off or carefully plan your exit and leave on top? If you are making great money, the decision can sometimes be easier to make if you realize you are already set for life.

In 2014, UTC was still roaring along with Chenevert as the CEO and president. However, with all the money he was making off of his base salary, stock options, and other items, his retirement package came to about $184 million when he decided to step down unexpectedly. Let that sink in for a minute. A 184 million dollar retirement package. Whether you believe a CEO or president of a company is worth that much is up to you. But if any of us were able to retire right this minute with $184 million in our bank account, there are not many of us that would turn this down.

Chenevert retired from UTC while he was still in his fifties. Of course, just like all retired people, he began doing other things that he loved. He enjoys spending time on his yacht Debbie Lou, named after his wife. He continues his love of technology by incorporating it into engineering yachts. Chenevert also spends a bit of time working with Goldman Sachs as a senior advisor. It is no wonder other successful companies are interested in him offering advice after the career that he had.

This is just one example of a person deciding they wanted to become a leader and felt their voice should be heard. We all have felt that way at points in our lives, but not too many follow through enough to ensure it will happen. Baseball is a lot like life. Would you rather go down looking at strike three or take your own fate in your hands by swinging away? There is still a chance that you will strikeout, but at least you are putting yourself out there to try to succeed.

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