Louis Chenevert’s People First Philosophy

Louis Chenevert is a Canadian businessman who, after earning a production management degree from HEC Montreal, began with General Motors. As a production manager, Chenevert crafted the beginnings of his exceptional style, Harris chronicles in his article. He soon earned the position of Production General Manager and remained for 14 years. In 1993, an opportunity granted Chenevert a chance to switch fields and make a leap in his career path. The Canadian branch of Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer, was searching for someone to lead them forward in spite of economic woes. This move proved to be advantageous for Chenevert and Pratt & Whitney.

In six years, Chenevert introduced process improvements that significantly increased the company’s market share. In 1999, Pratt & Whitney elected Chenevert company president. Chenevert’s work at Pratt & Whitney was just the beginning, as the company is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC), a multinational corporation spanning both civilian and military markets. The parent company took note of Chenevert’s successes and by 2006 advanced him to the chairman of the corporation. Soon after, he ascended to the role of chief executive officer.

Chenevert’s leadership between 2006 and 2014 brought the stock price from $37 to $117 per share. One of his distinguishing innovations was to switch from outsourced to consolidated labor. Although outsourcing inexpensive, overseas labor was considered a production industry standard, UTC arranged relocation and centralization of its engineers and workers to its home state, Connecticut. This cut administrative and production costs while increasing product quality. Additionally, Chenevert orchestrated the acquisition of the Goodrich Corporation, another aerospace manufacturing company.

Using a holistic philosophy, Chenevert considered how company policy could benefit not only UTC but also its employees, suppliers, and future employees. As illustrated by Ferguson’s commentary, a factor in Chenevert’s success is his passion for investing in the advancement of a corporation’s technology and its people. One such investment involved the Employee Scholar Program, offering scholarships to employees so they may earn a degree in a field of their choosing. Although Chenevert stepped down from UTC in 2014, current leadership still embraces his humanistic and forward-thinking approach.

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