Gregori Lebedev is resigning as president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council after less than two years in the job. He will be replaced on June 1 by Thomas E. Reilly Jr., retired chairman of Reilly Industries, who has agreed to lead the trade association until a permanent replacement can be recruited.
Raj L. Gupta, CEO of Rohm and Haas and chairman of the ACC board, publicly thanked Lebedev for his leadership during a time of change in the chemical industry. However, some company sources privately indicate that Lebedev was not a very popular figure, particularly in contrast with Frederick L. Webber, his well-liked--and 10-year--predecessor in the job.
Industry watchers acknowledge that Lebedev didn't have it easy, coming into the job at a difficult economic time for the sector. But some found him standoffish and difficult to approach. Others say he failed to make organizational changes that ACC needed.
Lebedev's tenure was marked by the departure of three major companies--Huntsman Corp., Lyondell Chemical, and Chevron Phillips Chemical--from the association's ranks. In his resignation letter last year, Huntsman CEO Peter Huntsman cited both ACC's inability to deal effectively with a diverse membership and the number of opinion leaders who see ACC as a group that "does not like them and with which they cannot work."
Observers consider Reilly, a one-time chairman of the ACC board, to be a consensus-builder who can interact effectively with colleagues as well as adversaries. Sunil Kumar, CEO of International Specialty Products, calls him a respected figure the industry can rally around. "Tom is going to have people coming out of the woodwork wanting to help him," Kumar says.