Last night, as I was sitting on the couch with Charlotte, my two year old, watching one of her Sesame Street DVDs, Cookie Monster came on the screen. In this segment, the famous blue monster with an affinity for chocolate chip cookies sang a song titled “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me.”  As this catchy little jingle stayed stuck in my brain for the next 24 hours, it got me thinking about my first day at Celanese, which I still remember quite vividly.  I arrived before the sun had risen that cool Dallas morning in March 2005, and as I came over the ramp onto 635, before exiting Luna Road, I saw the bright orange “C” illuminating the way to the opportunities that lie ahead.

Little did I know, that “C” would come to stand for a lot more than just Celanese over the years.  For example, I have learned more about “c”hemistry, “C”hina, and “c”hildren (I now have 4 of them) than I ever thought I would when I set out in my Volkswagen Jetta that day.  However, it’s a new “c” word that has me extremely excited.  “Collaboration” is a key focus of the new corporate mission statement and I am amazed how quickly our teams have embraced the idea of working more together as one organization.

In AI, we have seen numerous instances of the broader organization reaching out to help us achieve both our 2013 targets and Vision 2016.  Just over the last several months I have witnessed some great examples of enhanced collaboration in our business:

  • Acetate and AI teams working to maximize value from a swap partner
  • The accounting team digging through thousands of lines of SAP transactions to help identify fixed distribution reduction opportunities
  • Lou Purvis spending time with all AI business managers and myself to provide a “cold eye” on tactical business plans
  • The procurement and legal organization working hundreds of hours to finalize the methanol JV with Mitsui
  • Todd Elliott working collectively with AI and Emulsions to fully enhance the Celanese opportunities from a customer that we could never achieve working with a silo approach

However, it wasn’t until I reached out to the other General Managers and to the Sales organization, for examples of collaboration in their areas of responsibility, where I was able to see the true power of what’s currently going on at all levels of the company.   There are more than 25 substantial projects being worked “across BUs” right now that are new as of the last 12 months.

The breadth of ideas and potential value creation for the company is inspiring.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of work ahead of us, but driving for a culture where we pick each other up when we are down or try to accelerate when we’re flying high is what “C”ollaboration means to me and I think it’s going to be great for us.