ADM chair discusses emerging global middle class

Patricia A. Woertz, chairman of the board of directors of Archer Daniels Midland Company, spoke to a full audience in the Struthers Auditorium of the Business Building on Friday, as part of the college’s Executive Insights series.

Woertz started the session by giving a talk titled “The Emerging Global Middle Class -- Threat or Opportunity?” She also spoke about her career path and her personal leadership style, among other topics.

For full video coverage of the discussion, visit

Points raised by Woertz during Friday’s discussion include:

On the Emerging Middle Class
“We are all probably familiar with the phrase -- the growing, global middle class -- and may hear it all the time. I think the magnitude and the impact is underappreciated, and worth learning much more about, because the impact of this new middle class will be significant over the next decade.”

"This isn't just a China story... or a China, India, Brazil story. Regional players such as Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey will rise in economic power, in middle class population, and as center of production, consumption, and innovation too."

“Three key concepts we all need to be considering: productivity, connectivity and sustainability. Virtually every company will need to become more productive—with its workforce, with resources, with technology, and innovation. The larger, more geographically diverse middle class will require a larger global network to connect the goods it will consume. As a growing middle class consumes more, there will be more demand on resources, some of them finite.”

On Leadership
“My personal leadership style is guided by four words: be, know, do, care. Be yourself and bring your whole self to the job. Know everything you can about your job. Do be biased toward action. If you’re going to lead and you’re relying on everyone around you, if you care about them, you’ll do your job better.”

On Building Corporate Culture
“We have this fabulous culture of open communication. We put a strategic plan in place. We put a business plan in place. We have a great compliance plan now. We have good training. Sometimes when you grow, you think you can maintain this family way about you. You can, but at the same time you can’t … have things falling through the cracks. One of the aspects of the culture I think we’ve improved is discipline, but we haven’t lost the communication or entrepreneurial spirit.”

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Last Updated April 29, 2015