Transforming Culture Triples EBITDA for a Petrochemicals Business

MISSION:

A major energy company announced its intention to divest the majority of its global petrochemical assets worth more than $20 billion.  The preferred vehicle for an offering to the capital markets was via an initial public offering (IPO).  The new stand-alone company would include more than 8,000 employees worldwide at 30 office and manufacturing sites: 3 in Asia, 13 in Europe, and 14 in North America.

Prior to divestment, several CEOs had led this business, leaving a legacy of confusion and failed change. The challenge for the new senior team was to revitalize the organizational culture for employees who had heard it all before since the new organization would continue with most of the same employees.

The CEO and senior team developed a turnaround strategy for the business, placing cultural transformation at the top of their agenda. The culture needed to shift from a slow-to-change, command-and-control, bureaucratic workplace to a fast-paced, forward-thinking, innovative culture in which the leaders and employees felt like owners.  The rally cry was “Unleash Potential.”

LEVERS:

Eight major project streams were conceived, developed, and implemented across 10 countries, 6 languages, and 26 manufacturing sites. These project streams included: senior team alignment meetings, vision and values clarification, a clear definition of current state and future state vision, an innovative workplace design including an integrated talent strategy, engagement strategy, communications plan, and a plan to improve leadership effectiveness, including definition of success and a leader assessment tool resulting in quantitative analyses of the top 100 leaders used during talent reviews.

IMPACT:

The integrated cultural transformation plan quickly began to positively impact business performance. Each lever was sequenced across the change for impact, from the Top 100 leadership alignment event to the implementation of a talent strategy that represented the new brand and cultural values.  The organization was aligned for success.

The chief executive office of the parent company shared that this business “has proved to be a very attractive business to its peers in the chemicals sector.”  The company tripled its EBITDA from $.9 billion to $2.7 billion in 1.5 years.