ACS President Thomas H. Lane Presents The Seven Cs Of Career Success | March 2, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 9 | p. 49
Issue Date: March 2, 2009

ACS President Thomas H. Lane Presents The Seven Cs Of Career Success

Department: ACS News

AN AUDIENCE of 400 listeners dialed in to the ACS Careers Industry Forum teleconference on Jan. 8 to hear ACS President Thomas H. Lane offer his thoughts on career success in today's chemical enterprise.

Lane presented some American Chemistry Council statistics to describe just how large the chemical enterprise is today: The total chemical industry in the U.S. generates more than $500 billion to the U.S. economy each year. It directly accounts for over 800,000 jobs, and an additional 5.7 million jobs are generated indirectly by chemical industry activity. Also, the industry generates about 11%, or approximately 20,000, of U.S. patents.

Like most industries, Lane said, chemistry has changed over the years and with it, the formula for career success. To prosper in industry requires becoming a "master of the seven Cs," essential skills that Lane calls "the real key to success": competence, communication, creativity, courage, competitiveness, collaboration, and commitment.

Of competency, Lane said, "35 years ago, when I joined the profession, competency was a ticket to success. Today, it is simply the price of admission." It's not just about possessing the necessary education. Continuous learning is also critical to keep abreast of changes in the field.

Courage may seem like a funny thing to need, Lane said, but "my corporation looks to me as a senior scientist to lead the company in new directions, to answer challenges that no one else has addressed before." He added that knowing how to fail becomes incredibly important if you're to be courageous. It means being able to get up, dust yourself off, and continue.

According to Lane, collaboration is another vital skill because "the problems that chemists are being asked to address are enormous, complicated, and incredibly interesting because they do cross a number of disciplinary boundaries." That includes cultural boundaries if your collaborators are in China, India, or Japan, for example.

Lane encouraged the audience to be creative, to think in different ways, and to ask "big, broad questions."

Communication may be facilitated by technology, Lane said, but "it's the ability to look someone in the eye, to exchange thoughts and ideas, and to influence outcomes" that makes it a significant skill.

Finally, Lane said that competition is "being motivated to succeed, the desire to raise the standard," not sabotage the lab next door.

Careers Industry Forums are held monthly. The next forum is on March 12 and will feature ACS Past-President Catherine T. (Katie) Hunt speaking on networking. ACS members can participate in the calls free of charge, but advance registration is required at (click on "ACS Careers Industry Forum"). Transcripts of previous calls can be found at

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