Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Each of us must be willing to turn our back on business as
usual...including how we look at our businesses and how we
plan, budget, and report on our businesses. We must focus less of
our efforts on explaining our past and more on creating our
future....
John Paul Jones III, president and chief operating officer
Company Background
ts 1998 annual report describes Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., as
follows:
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE: APD) is an international
supplier of industrial gases and related equipment and specialty
and intermediate chemicals. Our 17,000 employees working at op-
erations in over 30 countries are committed to building lasting
commercial relationships based on understanding our customers’
businesses. And through this understanding, we continually find
ways to help them win in markets around the world—while main-
taining our focus on being an industry leader in safety, health, and
preservation of the environment. We are headquartered in
Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and have sales of more than $5 billion
to 115 countries around the world.
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The controllership function of Air Products is the largest function in
finance. There are approximately 450 people in the North American
controllership organization. Recently, Paul Huck, vice president and
corporate controller, initiated a major reorganization of the controller-
ship function, called Controllership 2000 (C2K). One of the primary
goals of this reorganization is to facilitate the role of finance as a
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strategic partner to the business. Huck articulated this vision of controller-
ship and discussed leverage competencies as they relate to its realization.
Thus, a major focus of this chapter will be on the controllership function.
Also interviewed was Mark Bye, vice president and general manag-
er, Performance Chemicals division. Bye is responsible for a $1 billion
global division. Performance Chemicals has approximately 14,000 cus-
tomers and 2,000 products, with half of its sales outside of the United
States. Bye offered important insights into the strategic role of finance,
and controllership in particular, from the perspective of a business
manager. He discussed his opinions regarding the importance of lever-
age competencies as they relate to the role of finance associates in his
organization.
Finally, Joseph (Jay) McAndrew, vice president, HR, discussed his
views on leverage competencies and how Air Products is addressing
these competencies and leadership development in general. He, too,
noted the strategic place of finance at Air Products.
Financial Leadership at Air Products:
A Control Perspective
Paul Huck sums up his view of a good financial executive: “A good
financial executive has a lot of the qualities that make a good business
executive. Because that’s what you want them to be. You are not a good
business partner unless you’re good at that.”
Being a good business partner is at the center of Huck’s vision for
his function. This has been the trend for finance, and structural changes
currently being implemented in controllership, discussed below, will
only increase finance’s strategic place within the organization.
He described a number of qualities and competencies that make a
good finance/business executive:
Thinking both strategically and tactically. An executive needs to
be able to not only think strategically, but also have the ability to
implement strategy—to know how to make things work.”
Providing sound judgment. “I look for good, sound judgment, good
common sense. At times the numbers tell you one thing but your
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