Thursday, April 19, 2012

Andrew Liveris is either confused or fibbing about salaries

Courtesy of the excellent (and mysterious!) @jfreebo comes the spectacle of Andrew Liveris telling a group of people at University of Pennsylvania that (starting at 1:01:00):
Starting salary of a chemical engineer today is? 120 [thousand] That's shortage. Last time I checked that's a good market, guys. You know? Demand's high, supply is short. 
Contrast that with AICHE's blog, where the median starting salary of a B.S. chemical engineer (via Payscale.com) is [drumroll!] around $65k. AICHE's 2011 salary survey (unlinked to respect member exclusivity -- you can Google it) confirms that range. What's the median overall salary for AICHE's 2011 salary survey? $110,000.

There are four possible explanations:
  • Dow is paying their starting chemical engineers $120,000 and Liveris is reporting the truth. 
  • Dow is paying really good for the industry right now, and are handing out significant bonuses, which Liveris is conflating with salaries. 
  • Andrew Liveris is confusing median and starting salaries. 
  • Andrew Liveris is intentionally lying about chemical engineer starting salaries.
I would really like to know which one of those is true. Readers?

UPDATE: 88% (y/y) inflation hits Andrew Liveris' mouth. From a July 2011 CBS news report:
But Liveris, whose company employs 24,000 people in the U.S. alone, says he can't get enough good workers here. "The starting salary of a chemical engineer is $85,000," he said. "And I can't get chemical engineers."
I think Mr. Liveris needs to go on the gold standard.

UPDATE 2: Anon1125a says:

Glassdoor.com screenshot for Dow Chemical
According to Glassdoor.com, 120 K is at the high end of the senior engineer pay scale at Dow. Senior chemists and senior engineers are early career PhD's, mostly recent hires. In principle, Mr. Liveris is not necessarily fibbing, he just neglected to mention that the qualifications for that salary are a PhD, a stellar job talk and interview, and the candidate would probably have a number of offers from competing companies. 
I know a newly minted chemistry PhD that just landed a senior chemist position at Dow starting at 95 K. I've always heard that engineers made about 20% more than chemists, so it appears consistent. In any event, I wouldn't mind getting a foot in the door at Dow. 

11 comments:

  1. According to Glassdoor.com, 120 K is at the high end of the senior engineer pay scale at Dow. Senior chemists and senior engineers are early career PhD's, mostly recent hires. In principle, Mr. Liveris is not necessarily fibbing, he just neglected to mention that the qualifications for that salary are a PhD, a stellar job talk and interview, and the candidate would probably have a number of offers from competing companies.
    I know a newly minted chemistry PhD that just landed a senior chemist position at Dow starting at 95 K. I've always heard that engineers made about 20% more than chemists, so it appears consistent. In any event, I wouldn't mind getting a foot in the door at Dow.

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  2. May be meant China? He did say previosly that "Dow has 500 Chinese scientists working in China, earning incredibly good money".

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  3. BTW, Dow is looking for a senior chemist.

    https://dow.taleo.net/careersection/10020/jobdetail.ftl?job=372554&lang=en&sns_id=gmail#.T5Bgf1jvp8Y

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  4. It's possible that the starting salary for a senior engineer at Dow has gotten that high because of competition from the oil companies, who are building/rebuilding a number of their petrochemical complexes in some parts of the country, which ups the demand for chemical engineers.

    Still, Liveris should do a better job of stating that he's not talking about the brand new BS chemical engineer just out of school.

    I do wonder what all those about-to-be MBAs at Wharton thought of his statements.

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  5. "I do wonder what all those about-to-be MBAs at Wharton thought of his statements."

    Time to apply to Dow Finance so I can replace expensive US engineers by outsourcing the work to China! Then I can put down that I saved the company $XXX million in overhead in my first 6 months on the job! Maybe then I can get that corner office on Wall Street...

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  6. Oh, it's all hopeless. And with engineering and nursing the 'grass is always greener'. Many stories now that nursing and most engineering disciplines except electrical are tanking hard.
    My experience is that the big engineering firms such as Schlumberger on hire foreigners on visas.


    "1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed"
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/47133762

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  7. "I do wonder what all those about-to-be MBAs at Wharton thought of his statements."

    I'm sure that they were shocked! shocked, I tell you! at the idea of somebody playing fast and loose with numbers................

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  8. I'm 13 year engineer at Dow. I make $120k base. Newbies better not be making what I am.

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  9. Getting a PhD only gets you $95K to start? I know chemical engineers who got $86K straight out of school with a bachelor's. Within 5 years they've likely surpassed the $95K base mark. Then add in the opportunity cost and any student debts...

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  10. I'm a chemical researcher near Houston with > 10 years experience. In the Houston TX area, BS ChemE's do start around 80+ to 100K at the big companies (ExxonMobile, Dow, etc.). Chemist Ph.Ds start around 100K, maybe up to 120K.. Dow policy is to hire only exceptional candidates. There could be signing bonuses, and the yearly bonus can be from 7 to 28%. Any Engineer that can't calculate the % increase from $85K to 120K, which is 41%, not 88%, will have a very slim chance of landing a top paying job at a major company like Dow. Finally, salary compression is what it's called. The difference in newbies and experienced folks can be depressingly small. Ultimately, it's all about the market at the time you're hired.

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    Replies
    1. It seems apparent that you're a better calculator of inflation than I am! Congratulations!

      Was Andrew Liveris fibbing or not? I believe he was fibbing, you apparently do not. I hope you're enjoying living near Houston!

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