How Many “Digital” Executives Are In The Chemical Industry?

Rich Seltz

In my work, I come across many companies and executives. Without a doubt, most are aware of digital and have plans to leverage emerging digital capabilities.

But how much formal attention is digital getting within the chemical industry? Without a doubt, every CIO is involved in shaping digital strategies. But are chemical companies appointing dedicated leaders to lead digital efforts?

I decided to find out. Although this is not a scientific survey, I have taken great pains to evaluate the data and eliminate errors. My methodology is simple:”

  • search LinkedIn for individual profiles where the job level is “VP” or “CXO”
  • Filter only on the “chemical” industry
  • Filter on job titles including the word “Digital”

And now, the results:

Analysis by company

  • 20 chemical companies have a VP level or above executive with “Digital” in their title.
  • 16 of these are in the top 100 companies as measured by revenue (2017 ICIS data).
  • Of these, 12 (60%) are located in Europe; 25% in the USA

Analysis by executive
For these 20 companies, there are actually 28 individual executives who meet the criteria.

  • 19 of the 28 (68%) work for top 50 global chemical companies
  • Two companies headquartered in Europe have multiple executives (3 executives each)
  • Two companies headquartered in the USA have multiple executives (2 and 4 respectively)

Conclusions

Without a doubt, Europe is leading the way on appointing dedicated digital leaders. Although there are nine executives in the USA, they represent only five actual companies.

Versus other industries, there are fewer dedicated digital leaders. Does this mean that chemicals is behind? Not necessarily. Most companies that I engage with are clearly addressing the digital economy. However, we can’t ignore the growing body of evidence and thought leadership that supports the case for appointing a dedicated leader of digital.

Final notes

As stated above, this analysis is focused on “digital.” In fact, there are many roles who are leading digital efforts but do not have this as part of their title. Examples include “SVP, Innovation”, etc. Keywords of “innovation” or “transformation” yield many more results. But, they also represent a variety of roles that often focus on R&D or process excellence.

For more on technology in the chemical industry, see How 3D Printing Benefits From Chemical Industry Innovation.


About Rich Seltz

Rich is a Vice President of Digital Transformation at SAP with emphasis on the chemicals and industrial sector. He works with leading companies to understand and exploit digital opportunities. He brings extensive experience as a former global CIO, supply chain leader, and general manager in the chemicals industry.