15 December 2005

There are “no secrets to success” in business, according to the President and Chief Executive Officer of the $40 billion US-based The Dow Chemical Company.

Former Brisbane boy Andrew Liveris today received an honorary doctorate from The University of Queensland, the institution where in 1975 he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree with first class honours and a University Medal. He was also named UQ Alumnus of the Year at the ceremony.

Dr Liveris credits his success to hard-working parents, teachers, colleagues and his wife, Paula, who all taught him the value of dedication, education and sacrificing for others.

“If you had told me when I was a chemical engineering student that this is where I`d be today, I never would have believed you,” he said.

The special graduation ceremony was held at Customs House in Brisbane on Thursday, December 15. You can listen to his speech by clicking here.

Dr Liveris believes Dow, a plastics and chemical company that does business in almost every country in the world, is at a critical juncture in its 100-year history.

“We are at a time when the global economy is melding into a single market, when competition is as tough as it`s probably ever been and where customers are also more demanding than ever,” he said.

“To succeed in this kind of world, you can`t just do two or three things right, you have to do everything right: manufacturing, research, marketing, strategy development and much more.”

Dr Liveris discussed Dow`s success and the challenges the company faced. But he was keen to point out that the company`s success was not due to one person alone.

“All of this ultimately hinges on one thing and that one thing is the talent and dedication of your workforce. That`s the one true lasting source of competitive advantage,” he said.

“In order for a company to succeed in today`s world, it must draw talent from throughout the world, which is why we are building plants in the Middle East and Far East and research and development and information technology centers in China and India.

“We are also large supporters of the concept of sustainability and have put in place game-changing goals to effect a positive influence on the world as we produce and market products that are essential to higher living standards and a better quality of life the world over.”

Dr Liveris became Chief Executive Officer of Dow in 2004. He joined the company in 1976 and during the his 30-year career he has set up a chemical facility in Hong Kong, worked on marketing strategies for the company in Sydney, was business manager at its Asian headquarters, general manager for operations in Thailand and President of the Performance Chemicals business group.

Dr Liveris said he still remembered his UQ student days well and has continued a strong interest with his Alma Mater.

“For nearly everyone, time at university represents a turning point,” he said.

“It`s a coming of age experience that everyone looks back on. Certainly I do, and with great fondness for life here.

“There has been no time in my life after UQ that I didn`t call on the people I met here, particularly Professor Don Nicklin who gave me advice and guidance in those early years after graduation and with whom I have maintained contact throughout my career at Dow.”

Head of UQ`s School of Engineering Professor Jim Litster praised his achievements.

“Andrew is possibly the most distinguished engineering alumnus of this University of any era,” he said.

“Despite his busy schedule, Andrew takes a keen interest in UQ.

“He has assisted us in our student recruitment in engineering programs and is keen to play a significant role in building a strong engineering alumni for this University, particularly with our many alumni working in the US.”

The University presented the honorary doctorate and Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his distinguished career and his contribution to the University.

He said there were many people he wanted to thank.

“Teachers, including those here at UQ who took a special interest not only in Andrew Liveris as a student, but Andrew Liveris as an individual; and colleagues and friends at The Dow Chemical Company who were and are willing to help me with their experience, guidance and advice,” he said.

“And the bedrock of it all is my wife, Paula, and our three children. At the beginning, in the middle and at the end, it is family and friends who count most.

“Few 80-year-olds, looking back on their careers, wish they had spent more time at the office. So I make sure to keep a healthy balance between work and home.”

Media: For more information, contact Chris Saxby at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2479, email c.saxby@uq.edu.au) or Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications Fiona Kennedy (telephone 0413 380 012) or Protocol Officer Jasmin Haddadi (telephone 0402 319 981).