How Can We Add Value and Grow with the Company?

I remember the exact moment I knew that to be successful, I had to grow faster than my company and the industry I was working in.  I had just taken the top human resources (HR) job for one of the fastest-growing business units in a global technology solutions company. I was joining HR after a career in research and development so my learning curve was steep.

I had to set myself on a growth path to learn and lead  . . . ahead of the business.  And, this business was destined to grow from $1 billion in revenue to $9 billion in revenue over four years – all organically.  So, needless to say, I had to get busy.  In the end we had great success, and I emerged four years later a better leader. How did I do it?

First, I knew I had to passionately own helping this business and myself grow. Second, my leader was fully engaged in both; and third, I was working for a company that was committed to building a successful and rewarding workplace.

As we look at our value of Employee Growth at Celanese, I’d like to share a few learnings to help each of us grow and develop.

Passionately “Owning” My Development

To grow, we must commit to own our development. No one can do it for us. Here are a few ways I learned to “own” it:

Leadership Engaged in Employee Growth

The second requirement is leaders who help their employees grow. How did some of my leaders help me?

If you manage people, you are responsible for helping your employees grow. Give them assignments that stretch them, give them feedback on their progress and encourage them along the way. Acknowledge the efforts they take to push themselves. For more on this, read “Know Your People” in 24 Hours to Better Leadership, a blog with great tips from Ram Charan.

A Company Committed to a Rewarding Workplace

The last condition for employee growth is a company that believes employees deserve a rewarding and high performing workplace and the leaders work to make that a reality. This is where Celanese is, striving toward an environment that:

We began putting these pieces in place with our Winning Culture. At the heart of a Winning Culture is an environment where employees can grow and develop. While our journey will take time, I’m reminded of Leonardo Da Vinci’s words, “It has long since come to my attention that  people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them…They went out and happened to things.”

As employees and leaders of Celanese, let’s make things happen together! Thanks for reading and take care.

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About the author


Lori Johnston is the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Celanese. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, shopping and eating.

There are 33 comments. Add yours.

  1. Randy Skattum says:


    Great post and fantastic advice for both the individual and for the manager!

    Individually, we have the responsibility to position ourselves for growth and development; it means taking calculated risks and the possibility of making mistakes – but we have to do something that enables us to learn new things.

    As managers, we have to find or create the opportunities that will stretch our teams; knowing that we need to be available to provide support, encouragement, and guidance – and to recognize that our teams may perceive the risk of the opportunity as greater than what we believe it to be.

    Thank you!

  2. Dinesh Arora says:

    This is very true. Owning ones development, and projects, with striving for additional values brings success and satisfaction. With my persistence in grant proposal writing, we were able to get DOE grant award this year. Thanks for your blog Lori.

    • Lori Johnston says:

      Dinesh…. What great success!… It feels good when we can bring things to completion and see the value we’re creating for Celanese… Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Sayanti Basu says:

    I found your post most riveting and motivating. As many have said – “a life without challenges is a life without growth”
    Thanks for sharing, Lori.

  4. Mark Sasek says:

    Lori – thanks for the great blog – very well written and some excellent advice – I have added it to my self development folder, which I review regularly.

    • Lori Johnston says:

      Mark…. I love the idea of a “self development folder” – what a great way to gather input and ideas and keep them in front of us!…. Thanks for your ideas!….

  5. Brian Hokkanen says:

    This really resonated with me as a member of the millenial generation.

    So much of a life plan for today’s youth seems entirely scripted (go to college or tech school, make grades, get internships, then find a job) that owning your career and self directing your life can be a new feeling for many people in the their mid-20s. It’s also one of the things that keeps me working at Celanese – this company and culture is such fertile ground for self directed value creation and teamwork, it’s hard to not be excited about life when you work here.

    Having this guidance from leaders on how to own your career is just great stuff.


    • Lori Johnston says:

      Brian…. Your perspective is refreshing and insightful…. I view our careers as a “lattice” and not a “ladder” – moving around to take different and new opportunities as we can add value and as the experiences bring us value…. Thanks for sharing your views – love it!….

  6. Patricia DARIKWA says:

    I enjoyed reading this posting, gave me renewed energy. I like the quote from Da Vinci. Thank you for sharing

  7. Chris Collins says:

    Lori – Excellent post.

    Often times it’s either misunderstood or overlooked, however, owning your own development plan is essential to your own success. For most of us, a development plan aligned with our career expectations / aspirations will not be handed to us on a silver platter. It takes, at a minimum, self-proactivity and manager support to start down the development path. Insightful advice from a trusted mentor also helps the cultivation and career brainstorming process needed to develop an effective plan. I see the development plan as a “working document”. As you continue to change (mature in your career, expand your skillsets, etc), your development plan should also change.

    I am pleased that Celanese as a company has taken a particular interest in employee growth and incorporated it into one of our core values.

    • Lori Johnston says:

      Chris…. I completely agree with your concepts of a “working document” – and the aspect of mentors – they continue to play a signficant role for me….

  8. RajV says:

    Well said, especially for the topic “Ask for the tough assignments”, I would like to add that Unless you take tough assignments you will never knew how long you can go.

  9. Ted Bagley says:

    LJ, what an interesting and thoughtful article. The good thing about it is that I had the opportunity, as your colleague, to view your rise to the top and can truly identify with those things in your motivational tool kit. I am proud to have been associated with such a dynamic, thoughtful and courageous leader. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Margie Dolch says:

    Seeking feedback and being curious have made all the difference for me. Last year I proactively asked colleagues and customers to provide me feedback before my year end review. Their feedback created a curiosity in me that led me to passionately pursue a two-week trip to Europe to work alongside our regional team members there. If I hadn’t spoken up and shared my interest, the trip may have never happened. I’m so glad my boss and team was open to giving me the time to invest and collaborate with my colleagues.

  11. Rose Rivera says:

    Lori – your article brings back warm memories of working with you and reminds me to ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ because you definitely do, my friend…you ‘DO’. Loved it (your article) and trying to live it! Please keep on writing! I want to read from you! Cheers!

    • Lori Johnston says:

      ROSE!!!!…. It’s so great to hear from you – and thank you for your oh so kind and inspiring words!!…. I know you are rocking the world!!…. Take care and great blessings!!….

  12. Joanna Rossi says:

    Thank you Lori for a wonderful article. I am finishing my masters in HR management and I am currently researching several HR leaders, one of them being you. I will definitely plan to ask for tough assignments, challenge myself and I only hope I find a great mentor like you to lead me along the way. Thank you.

    • Lori Johnston says:

      Joanna… I wish you great success in your program and in taking on tough assignments!… There are such great mentors at Celanese and so many who are very willing to offer great advice…. Thanks for reaching out!!… Take care…

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