A Q&A with 3M’s New CEO Mike Roman
Jul 31, 2018

The 3M News team recently sat down with new CEO Mike Roman to learn more about his priorities and perspective on the company he now leads.

You’ve been with 3M for 30 years. What makes the company unique to you? 

It starts with the people. That was a big attraction when I came; the people I met were incredibly talented, and that’s continued for 30 years. Behind that is a culture of collaboration, which is a big part of our long record of success. You also can’t think about 3M without thinking about innovation, which is at the center of everything we do.

So the way our people collaborate with one another and with our customers, using our 46 technology platforms to solve problems around the world, just makes us extraordinary in the world of companies.

You’ve talked about 3M as purpose-driven. What does that mean to you, and why is it important?

Having a strong sense of purpose is a powerful builder of trust with our stakeholders, and it’s also an important part of creating value. For employees, they want us to offer a long and rewarding career. For customers, they expect us to deliver value through differentiated solutions. And, of course, our investors and communities expect us to create value through our overall performance and contributions to the communities in which we do business.

For 3M, our purpose is characterized really well in our vision, values and science. Our vision – technology advancing every company, products enhancing every home, innovation improving every life – is central to what we do day-in and day-out. Our values around inclusion and diversity, along with sustainability – where we’ve been leading for 40 years – also shape a big part of our purpose. And finally, I look to our brand promise –3M Science. Applied to Life.– which reflects how we use science to help our customers and to change the world for the better. All of this creates a strong sense of purpose for us.

What’s your perspective on the financial state of 3M?

I view our company as both purpose-driven and performance-driven, and those two go hand-in-hand. Our vision, values and science are fundamental to the 3M Playbook. And over the last six years, we’ve been focused on building out and executing that Playbook, which has enabled us to create extraordinary value for our customers and premium returns for our shareholders – including a doubling of our market capitalization.

It’s clear that the 3M Playbook is working. What’s also clear from my perspective is that we’re just getting started, because there’s a lot more we can and should do to realize our full potential as a company. Going forward we’ll continue to optimize 3M’s portfolio, strengthen our innovation capabilities and accelerate our transformation, while also developing our people and advancing our culture. There’s a lot more value in our Playbook that we can and will capture.

The pace of change in today’s world seems to be constantly accelerating. What are the challenges of leading a company like 3M during these times?

In fast-changing times, companies have to constantly adapt, change and anticipate. This is one reason why our transformation efforts are so critical, as we become more agile, more contemporary, more efficient, and even better equipped to serve the evolving needs of customers. 

More broadly speaking, we excel at operating in markets and with customers who are facing dramatic levels of change and even disruption. It creates big opportunities to unleash the power of 3M science and innovation. Today we’re investing in a number of areas – which we call priority growth platforms – that are centered on market spaces that are changing rapidly and require new levels of innovation; these range from automotive electrification and connected safety, to air quality and advanced wound care. That’s opportunity for us, and we’re well positioned to capitalize.

This is more personal. You’re very involved with the community. How do you balance your time, given all of your responsibilities?

I think of it this way: my personal priorities are around being the best father, husband, family member and friend I can be. At work, it’s about being the best leader, colleague, and employee. And then it’s also important to contribute to your community. Now, I talk about those other areas because it often doesn’t leave much time for community activities, so you have to challenge yourself to make time. There are a number of causes important to me, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, because I believe there’s tremendous power in that idea of helping one person at a time.

If I back up and think about our employees, I’m proud of the way they balance their time as well. They choose, often as a top priority, to contribute to the community. I love to see not just the activities, but the impact that we have. And I’ve lived and worked in Europe and Asia and the U.S., and every place I go, that’s part of the 3M culture.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with people as you assume the CEO role?

I’d like to simply express what an honor it is to be chosen as the next CEO of 3M. As I step into this role, I’m very aware of the tremendous foundation we have here, which has been built up over generations of 3Mers. We have cutting-edge technologies and world-class manufacturing capabilities. Our reach is global, our brand is second-to-none, and we have an incredible team of people. I also know that the expectations of us are high, and will only get higher. My commitment is to do my best to build on that foundation, and create an even stronger, more innovative, more purpose-driven company that’s built for the long run.

Want to learn more? Follow Mike Roman on LinkedIn and Instagram (@mike.f.roman).

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