Louis Chenevert is bar far one of the best leaders in any industry, and this is for more than the career he has led. Briefly, he started out in at General Motors where he stayed for fourteen years. Afterward, Chenevert left GM to join Pratt & Whitney and finally United Technologies Corporation where he changed the aerospace industry. How did he do this you might ask, well, I will explain.
It starts with his position as CEO of UTC and Chenevert’s use of small strategic groups in small teams that also understood what their customers needed, a passion for delivering innovative products, in addition to making acquisitions that would bolster their portfolio. This strategy led to the F135 engine to redefine military propulsion. The GTF engine to change the game entirely with its improved fuel burn, reduced noise and use of fewer parts which in turn translated to lower cost over its life cycle. Chenevert and UTC were able to win over next Gulfstream orders for their next-gen G500 and G600 planes. They were also able to purchase Goodrich for $18 billion, which at the time was the most significant purchase in the industry.
To bring ideas like these to life, Chenevert remained focused on operation and engineering talent as they played important roles in the success of UTC. He also championed small groups and provided the leadership team with the tools, funds, and autonomy they needed to go after industry transforming products. Chenevert also maintained intense reviews across to board to make sure vital objectives were on track and accomplished.
Taking a step back from the organization as a whole, it is clear that Chenevert’s focus on people is what made a difference. For starters, UTC already had in place an Employee Scholar Program, which encouraged employees to seek out degrees of their choice. This program resulted in more than 39,000 degrees obtained by employees, of which, UTC paid for in full. That was more than $1 billion of investments in their people. It is only ironic that this practice aligned perfectly with Chenevert’s belief that no company can find success if it doesn’t invest in its employees.