Friday, October 10, 2014

Let's talk about the position that really matters: ACS CEO

Incidentally, no one that I am aware of has been talking about how there's an executive search going on for the actual top spot at ACS, i.e. Madeleine Jacobs' current position as executive director and CEO. Who do we think has more emphasis on the Society, the person who runs the ship day-to-day, or the seemingly ceremonial ACS president, who gets elected for a 1 year term?

Here's the ad. I'm amused to learn that you only need a B.S. degree in chemistry/the chemical sciences to be considered.

Below is the "leadership characteristics" section:
Understanding the Business: Knows the business and the mission-critical technical and functional skills needed to do the job; understands various types of business propositions and understands how businesses operate in general; learns new methods and technologies easily. 
Making Complex Decisions: Can solve even the toughest and most complex of problems; great at gleaning meaning from whatever data are available; is a quick study of the new and different; adds personal wisdom and experience to come to the best conclusion and solution, given the situation; uses multiple problem-solving tools and techniques. 
Getting Work Done Through Others: Manages people well; gets the most and best out of the people he/she has; sets and communicates guiding goals; measures accomplishments, holds people accountable, and gives useful feedback; delegates and develops; keeps people informed; provides coaching for today and for the future. 
Dealing with Trouble: Fearlessly takes on all issues, challenges, and people; comfortably confronts and works through conflict; delivers negative feedback and messages without hesitation; deals promptly and fairly with problem performers; lets everyone know where they stand; thrives in crises and is energized by tough challenges; not afraid to make negative decisions and take tough action; challenges the status quo. 
Communicating Effectively: Writes and presents effectively; adjusts to fit the audience and the message; strongly gets a message across. 
Inspiring Others: Is skilled at getting individuals, teams, and an entire organization to perform at a higher level and to embrace change; negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause; communicates a compelling vision and is committed to what needs to be done; inspires others; builds motivated, high-performing teams; understands what motivates different people. 
Acting with Honor and Character: Is a person of high character; is consistent and acts in line with a clear and visible set of values and beliefs; deals and talks straight; walks his/her talk; is direct and truthful but at the same time can keep confidences.
If I had some say in the next CEO of the American Chemical Society (and I most certainly do not), I would want someone to:
  • Address the obvious imbalance between the Publications and membership portion of the society. 
  • Address the seeming gap between service to the academic side of chemistry (i.e. publications and conferences) and service to the industrial side (???). 
  • Prioritize informal science communication to the public regarding fear of chemicals 
  • Prepare Society rank-and-file membership for the next (?) economic downturn. 
  • Prioritize addressing long-term unemployment amongst Society members. 
  • Supply outlandish funding to the various membership offices so that we can have a broader and more accurate measurement of the health of the chemistry job market. 
But hey, that's just me. Readers, what do you think? 

21 comments:

  1. Maybe you should apply ;)

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  2. "I'm amused to learn that you only need a B.S. degree in chemistry/the chemical sciences to be considered."

    Why? If someone with a BS has 12 years management experience they probably worked their way up the ladder the hard way (at the bench reporting to PhDs who think going in the lab is beneath them). Who should be considered instead? A fresh PhD with no management experience at all?

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    1. I don't think that is what I meant, but fair point.

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  3. B.S.-only required?!?! Dang it! Overqualified again...

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  4. CJ - I put in an application for you. Let me know when you get your interview.

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  5. Let's see now: someone or some people must chose the successful applicant for the position of CEO. Who would those people be? Would it be correct to identify them as "the Board of Directors"? Where would the names and affiliations of those individuals be located on the internet? And, in turn, who appoints them?

    CJ, would you mind posting the details and/or links of the people who make the decision on the choice of CEO?

    The question which you have ....catalysed.... into existence is possibly more important than that of the choice of ACS "president". After all, all three candidates are basically of the same priviledged flavor.

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    1. http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/governance/board/board-of-directors-images.html

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  6. Thanks for that link. Maybe we should petitioning these folks, in addition to the presidential candidates? Although these 16 people do not have a clearly unified thread, it looks like 4 (25%) are either retired or emeritus (!!), 6 have R01 backgrounds, 3 did their doctorates at the same university, one isn't even a chemist, and several -for whatever it's worth- don't have doctorates. Of course, there is some overlap in these trends. But overall, it really does not seem like this collection of people has much current savvy and know-how to address the employment issue of chemists.

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  7. Hey, hey, hold your horses, boys! You, of all people, should know that posting a position, and interviewing candidates is very different from making a hire, and I plan to keep it that way. Why? Well, I am sure you can calculate how many reason per day I have.

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    1. OK, let's have it your way, and anoint an unemployed chemist as your successor. That way, the job market, which is certainly more near and dear to him or her than someone who is retiring in luxury (talking about you, Medellin babe) might get the attention which it deserves.

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    2. Huh? Losers need not apply.

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    3. Ouch!

      But then again, you are a dumb biologist, so who cares what you think.

      Oh wait! You are rich and powerful, so just about everybody....

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  8. Hey, the board of directors will probably appoint one of their own, end-of-story. The salary is too juicy for them to give the job to an outsider.

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  9. "Address the seeming gap between service to the academic side of chemistry (i.e. publications and conferences) and service to the industrial side (???)."

    Ain't that the truth. As a recent transplant from academia (grad school) to a large industrial lab, I've been astounded by the amount of feet-dragging I've seen from co-workers whenever I mention getting involved with anything ACS related. Hard to say whether the nudging needs to come from the ACS side or the industry side.

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    1. Andrew and CJ, could you provide a simple list of "services" or issues which you would like to see the ACS prominently address for chemists working in industry? Or at least some suggestions?

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  10. This sounds excellent, where do I apply?

    In all seriousness, to put an international perspective on this, every single point that CJ makes regarding issues with the ACS is exactly the same for the Royal Society of Chemistry here in the UK. The issue regarding publications is particularly pertinent on both sides of the Atlantic.

    I have a big problem with my learned organisation putting restrictions on where I can publish proceedings of events I organise, even under their banner, when they don't use enough of the publishing revenue to support the main purpose of the society. That is not even to mention the positions adopted on open-access publications, where I finding very disappointing that my professional society (there to promote the advancement of chemical sciences) can't take an unbiased view and allows its journals to charge for students to reuse figures in their own theses! For too long the publications arms of both ACS and the RSC have been little independent fiefdoms and it is time that they should be brought to heel and made to work in the best interests of members.

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  11. What do I think? I think ACS executive directors shouldn't treat themselves like Goldman Sachs CEOs and take home an $800,000 salary like Madeleine Jacobs did.

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  12. Well if I were running for the job of ACS prez (which might yet happen some day), then here are two definite bullet points for my C&EN statement:
    1. Obtain valid statistics on the number of chem grads finding REAL employment within one year, then two years of their graduation. Obligate their alma mater to collect the data, if they wish to maintain their ACS accreditation.
    2. Key the salaries of ACS president and board of directors to the average salary of an ACS member. That would free up a lot of money for hiring some lawyers to petition congress on issues relevant to chemists, not the chemical industry and the chemical publishing industry. It would also allow the ACS to offer deeply discounted training courses for unemployed chemists.

    More points will be forthcoming.

    BTW, if Madeleine Jacobs has an $ 800 K salary, then what will her "golden handshake" look like?

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    1. You have my vote. Tell me when you run so I can re-join

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  13. Here's a third bullet point:
    3. Stipulate that maximum fraction of classes being taught towards an ACS-accredited degree be taught by full-time academic staff, as opposed to contingent faculty (i.e., adjuncts or "visiting" assistant professors).

    Remember, these measures, which may sound hard to some, are designed (a) to insure maximum full-time employment for chemists, and (b) bring the production of chemists in line with the job market.

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  14. I even have been getting a lot of helpful and informative material in your web site.CEO Mark Hurd

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