On Tuesday, March 25, 2003, Adriaan Van Den Berge, General Manager of Dow Chemical, and three of his young Russian executives, spoke to RACU business students at the university’s Business Forum. Van Den Berge has been employed by Dow for 23 years and is now in charge of Dow’s growing business in the Russian Federation.
Dow is one the largest companies of its kind in the world, with more than 50,000 employees in many countries worldwide. The company does $30 billion a year in sales and has been active in Russia for 29 years. The focus of Dow is on the European part of Russia, east of the Ural Mountains, where it has mapped a core market of 50 million people, roughly equivalent to the population of France.
Van Den Berge talked about the six core principles of Dow that are a key to its “corporate culture” – integrity, respect for people, unity, outside-in focus, agility and innovation. He also stressed their strategy of hiring mostly Russians to run their operations in this country. He said he was the only foreign national working for Dow in Russia. In 1997, Dow had $50 million in sales and a staff of 27; today Dow has $175 million in sales and a staff of 65.
Van Den Berge and his Russian colleagues talked about the qualities they are looking for in their employees – entrepreneurship, self-starters, hard-working, creative – and how their company gives employees “lots of freedom, but expects lots of discipline.”
Van Den Berge, who is a leader in the business community in Moscow and serves as a member of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce and heads the “Dutch Club,” emphasized his confidence in the Putin government and the increased stability that is evident in Russia. He saw many encouraging signs in the economy in Russia and was particularly pleased with the growth of the middle class, which he felt was a key to the building of a civil society in Russia.
This RACU Business Forum was the seventh in the series sponsored by the university. It was co-hosted by RACU’s Provost, Dr. Larry Ort, and RACU’s President, Dr. John A. Bernbaum.