The powerful speeches delivered by Andrew Liveris AO and Professor Peter Høj on April 6, 2018, marked the celebration of the Liveris family's continued support of students, teaching and research at UQ and their most recent gift of $13.5 million to help establish the Liveris Academy in the University’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT).
The Liveris Academy will be housed in the Andrew N. Liveris Building, an 11-storey engineering education and research hub to be built at the St Lucia campus. The University of Queensland named this facility in honour of the Liveris family's continued support.
Full transcripts of both speeches are contained below.
Speech delivered by Andrew Liveris AO
Thank you, Professor Hoj. And thank you all so much for being here to celebrate the future of our great university.
It is always a treat for me to be back in Australia, in Brisbane, among family and old friends. This place will always be a part of me. Every day of my life, I draw on the knowledge and the skills I learned at UQ. And that really is remarkable. I started university in 1972. Back then, “coding” meant making holes in punch cards. China was still closed to other nations. The phrase “climate change” was only scary to those of us who were leaving sunny Brisbane after graduation.
It was a different world.
But the most important thing I learned at UQ was not any single piece of knowledge, which would probably be outdated even if it had stayed in my head over the years. The most important thing was that I learned how to learn.
At UQ, I learned to question, to probe, to think critically. And that meant I knew how to adapt. As the world changed over my lifetime, I could constantly update my understanding of it.
This skill – learning to learn – is even more valuable today than it was back then. Because today, the world is not only changing… the rate of that change itself is changing. I have no doubt that the coming generation of students will have to navigate far larger shifts in the global landscape than my generation has.
So on this exciting day, as we launch this new academy, I want to talk about those shifts – and what they tell us about how UQ can create the next generation of leaders.
GROWING GLOBAL UNEASE
This is a curious moment for our world. The global economy is doing well. It has taken a decade, but the World Bank is forecasting that this year will be the first since the financial crisis when the global economy is operating near or at full capacity. Even still, there is growing unrest… a powerful discontent.
This sentiment is not nearly so strong here in Australia; the strength of our economy and of our social safety net have muted the impact of these tough new trends. But I am sure you are all well aware of them. More and more people are feeling that the global economic system has not been working for them. And they are expressing that feeling in unpredictable – and sometimes unproductive – ways. We know at least some of the reasons behind this.
As businesses have traded across the world and technologies have advanced, it has created staggering wealth for corporations. But the gains from globalization and digitalization have not been as widely shared as they could be – or should be. If you are in a developed economy, you have seen some jobs move overseas. And whether you are in a developed or a developing economy, you are seeing some jobs automated out of existence altogether. Many feel as if opportunity is in short supply.
Meanwhile, as sustainability challenges mount, people worry about scarcity of basic resources. Indeed, the projections are daunting. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in regions where clean water is scarce. By 2050 – as the global population tops nine billion – demand for food will increase by 60 percent. That age-old conviction that our children will have it better than we did has, for many, faded away… and been replaced by chronic anxiety.
Fear, as we have seen throughout history, breeds more fear. In country after country, populist movements have arisen. They clamor for their societies to close themselves off to the outside world and to reject people who are different – outsiders, new arrivals, and members of the so-called elite.
If those movements gain power in countries across the world, we all know what comes next. Instability makes people reduce their investments in the future. People begin to view others with suspicion. And instead of working together toward solutions that make life better for everyone, we fight each other over dwindling resources.
We cannot let this happen.
The good news, as I see it, is that we do not have to allow this to happen. Because there is a better approach. And we can all play a role in making it work.
A MORE INCLUSIVE CAPITALISM
There is not a better model than capitalism – but there is a better model of capitalism. A more inclusive capitalism.
I believe that businesses need to step up and create this more inclusive capitalism – one where companies understand that they flourish when communities do… and put their innovation engines to work on improving their communities.
We in the business world should see it as our problem if ecosystems are failing… if groups are being discriminated against… if people cannot make enough money to provide for themselves and their families.
We own a share of the problem – and we certainly have a stake in the solution.
Now, I am not blind: I know there are many businesses contributing to these problems, not working to solve them.
But I believe we are at the start of a fundamental shift in the way businesses view their responsibility to society. Over the past few years, I have been proud to join some of the world’s preeminent business leaders in helping create several organizations focused on this exact goal.
The B Team, for example, is a group of CEOs that has set ambitious targets, from achieving net zero emissions for carbon by 2050, to making work more fulfilling and fair, to establishing responsible governance in the emerging world. We are attacking these problems just like we would any other critical problem our enterprises face, and taking concrete actions to address them. Already – in just five short years – we have seen exciting progress.
Another group I am proud to be part of, Focusing Capital on the Long Term, works to promote the kinds of major investments that take years to bear fruit – things like research and development on ambitious new technologies, or education for the next generation. To accomplish this, we are changing the rules, culture, and incentive structures that surround investment in order to encourage long-term thinking.
What makes me so hopeful about these groups is that we are identifying structural changes that will enable other companies to follow our lead. For example, sustainability has long been a priority for Dow, and we have rigorous data tracking our progress toward our goals. But now, we are also working with NYU’s Stern School on a study where we share these numbers as part of our quarterly earnings calls. Researchers will interview the analysts who listen to these calls and determine if and how the reporting changes their thinking.
With enough changes like that, we can begin to transform the relationships between businesses and their communities.
Much of the change in mindset can be traced to universities teaching students about responsible global citizenship.
We have now reached the stage where people who had this value instilled in them in school are buying products, looking for jobs, and heading up companies. The brightest employees of the day want to work with companies that are doing the right thing. And the best customers of the day want to buy products from those same companies.
When you reach a critical mass of people who care, the profit motive and the moral imperative align.
So I am passionate about teaching students to believe in their obligation to the world around them. It will be up to them to make sure that this more inclusive capitalism is not a passing fad, but a new normal.
THE END OF SCARCITY
Now, the idea of companies putting their innovation engines to work on behalf of society is, in and of itself, very exciting. But it is even more exciting when you consider that these innovation engines are about to be supercharged.
We have all heard a lot of hype about Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.
And I would say: the hype barely begins to capture the transformative power of new technologies.
That power is already reshaping the way we do business. A recent report found that 70% of enterprises are expected to implement AI in 2018. That is up from 40% in 2016, and 51% in 2017. In 2018 alone, machine learning is expected to become a much smarter, much quicker tool that businesses will use to inform decision-making.
Here is what that means for companies like mine.
Already, since I started as CEO, the ability to run millions of experiments per day on computers has made Dow a full order of magnitude more innovative, as measured by the patents we receive each year. With new technological capabilities on the horizon, I expect a similarly massive shift.
In our factories, we are currently generating 10 billion data points every single day. Using algorithms to sift through that data, we get new insights from AI. We can streamline our operations and find new opportunities for innovation.
Now, you hear two big fears about this coming revolution. One, that machines will replace workers. And two, that machines will become so intelligent that they control us, rather than the other way around.
From the conversations I have had with the experts, and from what I have seen at my own company, I believe that in reality, machines and humans are going to work alongside one another, with insights from each helping to inform the other. They will be partners.
So how do we train today’s students for this future?
The answer, I am afraid, is not nearly as simple as “coding” or even “STEM education.” In fact, coding is already the architecture of yesterday. We will need emerging technological disciplines like data analytics and machine learning to become part of the curriculum.
But at the same time, we cannot fall into the trap of focusing on these subjects to the exclusion of the others.
During my years at UQ, I had to take courses outside my comfort zone – courses like liberal arts and psychology. These were the courses that broadened my perspective. These were the courses that helped me learn how to learn.
We must train our students to be technically adept at specific skills, and to be adaptable critical thinkers.
When we broaden our perspective, we strengthen our sense of social responsibility.
Companies that are adept at using new technologies and geared toward solving great global challenges could bring about the end of scarcity. We are already seeing cheap, 3D-printed homes that go up in a single day. Meat grown in a lab. Energy produced cleanly and affordably.
If we can innovate to make products like these cheaper, better, and more broadly available, then we could ensure that no one has to live without food, water, or shelter ever again.
And I do not know about you, but I would like the innovators that lead this change to set up shop right here in Australia. That is a big reason why I chose to make this gift to UQ.
For too long, our country has allowed our prosperity be driven by the resources underneath the ground, rather than the brainpower of the people above it. Already, this is leading to more economic volatility than we would like. It does not take a UQ degree to realize that there is a better approach.
Ironically, one of Australia’s biggest challenges has always been that things are pretty good here! We have plentiful resources. We have, as I said, a strong safety net. We have a couple thousand miles of water providing a buffer from some of the problems of the rest of the world.
It is easy to settle in to that prosperity and peace, and just head to the beach.
There is no burning platform compelling us to act. And in a way, that makes our task harder. We will not, most likely, be compelled by events. We will have to compel ourselves. We have to become our own change-makers.
But I know that we can do it. Australia has always punched above its weight in the world.
If we can match programs like the Liveris Academy with government investment in innovation and strengthen our partnerships with other technologically advanced nations, then we can develop a globally competitive knowledge economy. The successor to the “lucky country,” I believe, is the “smart country.”
And let us start that today, at the university we love.
Brisbane can be the world capital of the responsible enterprise… and of the digital tools that drive and empower it.
All around us at UQ, we meet young people who are smart and driven and dedicated to improving their world.
We have left their generation enormous challenges to solve.
Fortunately, we have also raised them to be extraordinary.
So let us support them. Let us teach them and learn from them. Let us inspire them to be the change-makers we need – at our university, in Australia, and in the world.
Speech delivered by Professor Peter Høj
It has been wonderful to hear from Andrew’s family just now, and to learn a little about a lesser-known side of one of the world’s most impactful and influential industry and corporate leaders.
I think it pays to remember that the guy who led one of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies for 14 years is the product of a family, and remains at his core a family man.
That is one of the many things I admire about Andrew: he does not leave people behind. Since he departed Queensland as a Dow new recruit more than 40 years ago, he has continually moved forward. But he has never forgotten where he came from. He has never forgotten his origins in a Greek migrant family in Darwin, he has never forgotten Australia, and he has never forgotten his alma mater.
Even when he was in the thick of one of the largest and most complex corporate industrial mergers that I expect to see in my lifetime, he made time to return to Brisbane last July, deliver a fantastic “UQ Change Makers” address, and share his insights with a public hungry for bold business and policy leadership.
A few hours ago, Andrew dug the dirt at UQ. We have some
photographic evidence of this on the screens now.
He symbolically started work on a building that will be the tallest on our St Lucia campus. Until today we called it the Sustainable Futures Building. Now, it will be the Andrew N Liveris Building.
It is fitting that, nearby, stands the Don Nicklin Building – named after a much-loved professor and mentor to Andrew.
The 11-storey Andrew N Liveris Building will promote collaborative learning, research projects that interweave disciplines and cultures, and deep interaction with industry.
It will be home to the Liveris Academy - a crucible for future leaders, and for new solutions to major challenges for a planet approaching 8 billion people. Challenges such as clean water, energy, and safe food.
Andrew, and Paula Liveris – the best partner he ever met! – have personally committed $13.5 million for initiatives including the Liveris Academy, and have additionally pledged to help raise $26.5 million.
They are responsible for the largest gift driven by individuals, to UQ’s ambitious and recently launched Not If, When philanthropic campaign.
I mean the largest so far. Successful people thrive on competition. May the competition amongst donors heat up! This might be one rare competition where Andrew might wish not to win – because he wants UQ to win!
Before I introduce Andrew, I want to convey the UQ community’s profound gratitude to him and Paula. Not for this gift alone, but also for their steadfast partnership, which for decades has sponsored and inspired bright, solutions-focussed students, researchers and educators – and will continue to do so for many decades more.
The naming of the building is a way for UQ to honour the exceptional career and visible, persuasive and enthusiastic advocacy of a game-changing graduate who emboldens others to think audaciously, stretch their ambitions – and achieve!
Andrew has a dazzling and very substantial CV, and I suspect he hears it recited frequently. So I will cut to the present.
He is Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company and Director, DowDuPont.
Until Sunday he was also Executive Chairman of DowDupont, an entity which he was instrumental in creating, through the merger of the behemoths Dow and Dupont.
His extensive list of additional appointments includes (but is certainly not limited to): Director of IBM, Vice Chair of the Business Roundtable in the USA, a member of the Concordia Leadership Council, Trustee of the California Institute of Technology, board member of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, trustee of The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and a member of the Australian government’s Industry Growth Centres Advisory Committee. He was also the first non-American to chair the US Business Council.
He has led Dow to collaborate with governments on Advanced Manufacturing Plans in countries including the USA and Australia, has advised American Presidents, and is himself President of The University of Queensland in America Foundation.
Andrew’s slew of accolades includes Officer of the Order of Australia, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Australian Association, Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. Plus, a Doctor of Science honoris causa and 2005 Alumnus of the year Award from UQ (in addition to the Chemical Engineering degree with 1st class honours he earned in 1975).
The recognition from distinguished research and technology organisations reflects Andrew’s consistent promotion of excellent science to drive sustainable innovation. On his watch, Dow partnered with and invested in many entrepreneurial scientists and engineers, including at UQ.
In audience question time after his address in Brisbane last July (mentioned earlier) Andrew was asked if he would consider being more active as a thought leader in Australia.
He answered that he was ‘all in’ with Australia.
As I see it, the evidence and results attest to that.
I trust that, as he transitions from the top level of DowDupont, we will see, hear and read more Liveris in Australia. We can count on him to speak uncomfortable truths to the powerful, and to advocate bold policies informed by excellent science.
Please join me in thanking and welcoming Andrew N Liveris, AO.