CEO speaks at Illinois State U. business week
Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc. Jim Owens spoke as the keynote speaker to Illinois State University's Business Week 2007. Owens, who graduated from North Carolina State University in 1973 with a Ph.D. in economics, is involved with the Business Council, Business Roundtable and the Manufacturing Council in Washington, D.C., as well as holding many other positions throughout the United States.
University President Al Bowman said before the speech, "Integrity, excellence, teamwork and commitment are the core values that drive Caterpillar Inc. and its chairman and CEO Jim Owens."
Owens spoke on "The Realities and Rewards of Globalism" and emphasized his position that in order for a company to be successful it must be a player in the global market.
Throughout his speech, Owens made a major point that large companies cannot compete with each other without being successful in the world market.
"We are competing on a global stage, the U.S. is only 5 percent of the global market," he said.
Caterpillar Inc., which employs 95,000 people in 278 facilities across 40 countries has become successful by understanding this. After the 1980s, a period which Owens called the "Black Age," he explained that Caterpillar Inc. went through a renaissance. Redesigning their business plan, they went from losing money in the 80s to increasing their revenue from $10 billion to $40 billion across the next 15 years.
While he concentrated on the use of globalism in business, he expanded that idea to include the United States as well. "We're not going to be a great nation by building walls around the country," Owens said.
He also commented on the worries of many Americans that the U.S. economy has been doing poorly.
"The years 2004, 2005, 2006 were the best three years for global GDE growth since the end of World War II," Owens said.
He elaborated that at a time where we are experiencing the best of times, there is a great deal of apprehension about the state of the economy.
For those who may not think globalism affects them, Owens also encouraged people to understand that the global market affects everyone because one in five American jobs are related to trade. Globalism played a main role in the speech that Owens gave. However, he also stressed a commitment to quality in Caterpillar Inc. that he was proud of.
"Were not interested in being in a business where the only way to sell is being cheaper than the competition," he said.
He explained that Caterpillar Inc. looks for areas where they have competitive advantage over the competition and tries to focus on those areas.
For students entering the work place, Owens shared some advice. He told students to put everything they have into their work and to do the best job that they can. Furthermore, he said that one of the reasons he became successful was by stretching his horizons in different fields and doing things he was not necessarily comfortable with.
Finally, he said he encouraged students to look to jobs around the world. He cited his work experience in countries such as Switzerland and Indonesia as growing points in his career, which taught him things he would not have learned closer to home.