Monday, August 20, 2012

Bayer sets chief of staff role - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

As executive director of the Bayer USA Foundation for the last decade, as well as manager of Bayer Corp.'s science education outreach program, Rebecca Lucore figures she spent about 95 percent of her working hours at off-site meetings and speaking engagements.

But since beginning a new job June 1 as chief of staff for the Bayer MaterialScience NAFTA region, Ms. Lucore finds herself in a place she's not accustomed to: behind her desk at Bayer's Robinson campus.

"It's the hardest thing to get used to," said Ms. Lucore, 39, who has spent her entire professional career at the U.S. headquarters of the German-based drug and chemicals giant.

In her new role, Ms. Lucore reports directly to Jerry MacCleary, who on June 1 was named president of Bayer MaterialScience's NAFTA operations that include the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Mr. MacCleary succeeded Greg Babe, who left Bayer to run Pittsburgh-based Orbital Engineering.

Bayer created the chief of staff position "to support [Jerry's] overall BMS role as president," said Ms. Lucore.

If her title sounds more West Wing than typical corporate job description, consider the background:

With Mr. Babe's departure, Mr. MacCleary became the highest-ranking executive at the Robinson operations.

Mr. Babe had held the job of president and chief executive of all of Bayer's North American businesses, which include material sciences, crop sciences and health care. But that role in July went to Philip Blake, a veteran of Bayer's drug and health care segments. Mr. Blake, whose title as leader of the North American operations is senior Bayer representative USA, is based in Whippany, N.J., where he will also run Bayer's health care division.

As a result of being the company's top local official, Mr. MacCleary is assuming more of a public face in the Pittsburgh region. Part of Ms. Lucore's job, she said, "is to help advise him because of my experience with the region and its key issues and organizations."

For instance, he recently joined the board of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and on Aug. 29 will deliver the keynote address at the Pittsburgh Technology Council's annual STEM Summit.

Besides assisting Mr. MacCleary with his transition, Ms. Lucore will manage projects and work on organizational matters. Bayer MaterialScience accounted for about 30 percent of Bayer's North American sales last year, which totaled $11.4 billion. The U.S. Bayer MaterialScience operations generated $9.8 billion.

One of the top initiatives Ms. Lucore is focused on is promoting education and advancement of women and minorities in the STEM fields, which are science, technology, engineering and math. She is developing a STEM advisory committee "to really look at Bayer MaterialScience specifically to find out where are the gaps in job skills and what we need to be looking at to improve future business and future hires."

That data could be timely as Bayer MaterialScience plans a new round of hiring after a 2007 cost-cutting and restructuring effort slashed the operation's employment throughout North America by nearly 30 percent.

There are currently 575 Bayer MaterialScience employees in the Pittsburgh region and about 2,400 in the U.S. The Robinson campus has a total of about 1,400 Bayer employees, while another 1,200 work for Medrad, a Bayer medical products subsidiary in Marshall.

"We will have more overall staffing activity than we have seen over the last several years," said Bayer spokeswoman Katie Kirkpatrick, though she could not provide a target number.

As Bayer MaterialScience gears up for recruitment, Ms. Lucore is excited about putting into place some of the talent management strategies learned through her past involvement in STEM programs as head of Bayer's corporate social responsibility program.

"We went through some economic downturns and weren't really hiring," said Ms. Lucore. "Now we're in a great position because a lot of longtime employees have been here 30-plus years and are retiring. So we have a whole talent and knowledge initiative."

Jobs likely to be filled include engineers, particularly chemical engineers, she said, and positions in marketing. Some offers could be made to summer interns who worked for Bayer at the Robinson campus and in other sites, said Ms. Lucore. This summer's group included about 50 students in Pittsburgh and 30 at other sites. About 47 percent of them were female, she said.

As she settles into her new job, Ms. Lucore will also continue to run the Bayer USA Foundation, which handed out $9.3 million in grants last year. After a successor is named, she hopes to stay close to foundation activities, having been involved since joining Bayer as a college intern in 1994.

Back then, she was a communications major at Duquesne University who walked to Bayer's Downtown offices after her classes.

She was hired full time after earning her bachelor's degree in 1995 and assigned to employee and internal communications. Her responsibilities included working from its inception on the education program, "Making Science Make Sense," which takes Bayer employees into classrooms for hands-on experiments and instruction.

In 2001, she was named executive director of the foundation and in 2006 also became head of corporate social responsibility for Bayer, which included STEM initiatives. That job also gave her public exposure as the point person in the company's efforts to attract the United Nations Environment Programme's World Environment Day to Pittsburgh in 2010.

In 2010, she was tapped to manage employee communications and engagement for Bayer MaterialScience.

"That was a lot to juggle," she admitted. "I really had to make choices every day when I came in: What were the most critical needs for the company."

As for the new position, Ms. Lucore acknowledged she faces a learning curve as she becomes more involved with business and organizational functions.

"I loved my job in the foundation. I worked with such great and innovative leaders in this region. But I wanted to grow and I knew had to get out of my comfort zone to grow."

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