Science Driven By the Market

When new company chieftains say they want to be a catalyst for change, many listeners brush it off as a tired cliché. Patrick Thomas is proof that it needn't be. Stepping into his new role as chairman and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) in 2007, the then 49-year-old Englishman who previously had led the polyurethanes businesses of ICI and Huntsman in the UK and Belgium quickly went to work holding the old German company's cherished traditions and practices up to the light for scrutiny while contemplating new business models.

After six years in the job, many chief executives might be tempted to declare "Mission Accomplished" and fall back into a more comfortable operating mode. This thought would not occur naturally to Patrick Thomas. The Portsmouth native and Oxford graduate who calls himself "an engineer by birth and by training" is still far from finished reshaping the polymer producer's approach to innovation and marketing -- two concepts that in his mind go hand in hand....

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