Chemicals giant Dow appoints out CEO Jim Fitterling

Chemicals giant Dow has become one of the only major industrial corporations with an openly gay CEO.

The company, which is set to be broken off from conglomerate DowDuPont this year, announced this week that Jim Fitterling would become its new Chief Executive Officer.

It makes him one of just a handful of out businesspeople at the top of an industrial company, and one of few to lead a major Fortune 500 company – alongside Tim Cook of Apple.

Other out CEOs of major companies include Alan Joyce of Qantas Airlines and Inga Beales of Lloyd’s of London.

But many LGBT business execs still opt to keep their sexuality private, for either personal or professional reasons.

Mr Fitterling, 56, replaces the company’s retiring CEO Andrew Liveris.

The incoming CEO said: “I am very excited and humbled to lead Dow into its next phase of growth.

“Today Dow delivers higher and more stable returns for our investors, more innovative and collaborative solutions for our customers, and more world-class opportunities for our employees.

“I am committed to working with [the] rest of the Dow team, to further this momentum. Our goal is to continue to exceed the expectations of our customers and shareholders by leveraging our integration-backed and innovation-led business model to provide solutions to world-scale challenges.”

Dow Chemical (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

A bio of the new exec states: “Fitterling has played a key role in developing and executing Dow’s strategy to invest in a market-driven portfolio of advantaged and technology-enabled businesses that create value for Dow shareholders and customers.

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“He joined Dow in 1984 and served in a variety of Sales, Marketing and Supply Chain positions before being named Commercial Director for Liquid Separations, Dow Pacific in the mid-1990s. He later was named to lead the Liquid Separations business unit and served as President and CEO of FilmTec Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow based in the U.S.

“Then, he returned to Asia Pacific where he led the whole of Dow’s operations in Thailand and the SCG-Dow Group of joint venture companies, and subsequently was named CEO of The OPTIMAL Group, affiliate of Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Malaysia’s state-owned oil corporation and The Dow Chemical Company.

“For the past 10 years, Fitterling has managed significant portions of the Company and has led a number of strategic and transformative actions. He has served as president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics business; and as senior vice president of Corporate Development. In this role, he led the carve out of Dow’s styrenics and chlorine businesses, as well as $6 billion of growth projects on the U.S. Gulf Coast. In 2015, he was named vice chairman and chief operating officer, adding executive oversight for all of Dow’s businesses and operations, and led the merger of equals with DuPont.

“He was named to his current role in 2016. At the same time, he has been driving a strategy to deploy digitalization to improve the way the company innovates, serves customers, inspires employees and delivers on its sustainability goals and objectives.

“Fitterling is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Manufacturers, a member of the Board of Directors of the Chemical Financial Corporation, and a member of the Board of Directors of Sadara Chemical Company. Fitterling earned a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri – Columbia.”

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