DSM still goes by the initials that stood for Dutch State Mines when it was founded more than a century ago. The letters are one of a few things that haven’t changed for a company that has been in a continual state of transformation throughout most of its history.
The coal mines in the south of the Netherlands are now closed. But, even when coal was central to its business, DSM expanded into fertilisers as a way of using the ammonia produced during coal processing operations. Over the decades, the focus shifted to plastics and, later, chemicals. Today, it is once again reinventing itself, this time seeking out the higher-margin and less cyclical sectors of life sciences and material sciences.
The company has tried to attract the finest technical minds and put research and development at the heart of the business. But, argues Feike Sijbesma, chief executive, a greater focus on good management is just as important.
‘Innovation, coming up with new products and launch concepts and business models, is one of the main drivers of our strategy,’ Mr Sijbesma says. ‘The whole idea about our business education starts with our strategy ... You need a lot of technical knowledge but you also need to change the company in terms of culture and behaviour.’
The company wants to create managers who can show inspirational leadership. Mr Sijbesma defines this as combining ‘authenticity and vulnerability with clear direction’. DSM now works with four business schools – IMD in Switzerland, Wharton and Babson University in the US and RSM in Rotterdam – and sends top executives to all four schools to develop leadership skills, gain industry insight and work on special projects that can feed into overall corporate strategy.
The links with the universities help graduate recruitment. It also puts its executives in contact with other business people. ‘Our executives get to meet people from other companies and learn a lot from them during these leadership discussions about industry developments.
‘The programmes are focussed on two things: personal leadership skills and business elements,’ Mr Sijbesma says. He adds that learning is a key part of his drive to transform the group into an innovative life science and material science company.
‘What we want to do with this whole learning architecture and with those universities is to make a stronger foundation to support or speed up this whole change process,’ he says. FT
B Choose the best alternative to complete the sentences.
16DSM hopes that its managers will learn to _______________ the company’s employees.
a)motivate b)control c)deal with the personal problems of
17Executives from DSM _______________ at business schools around the world.
a)run training programmes b)have taken jobs c)become students
18The training courses allow DSM managers to _______________ other people in the industry.
a)compete with b)relax with c)learn from
19Mr Sijbesma says he wants to use education to help his company come up with _______________.
a)ways of raising capital b)fresh ideas c)strategies for recruiting talent
20Mr Sijbesma says that he hopes to _______________ change in his company.
a)encourage b)understand c)slow down
A Complete the conversation with the appropriate phrases (a–e).
a)hang on a minute, please
b)think of Mumbai
c)think that’s relevant
e)divide my talk into three parts
SanjaySo, what do you _______________21?
BeattaI really like it. There’s so much to see and do.
CarlosRight, can we _______________22? The purpose of this meeting is to talk about the takeover next month. We’re going to begin with a short presentation from Dino. Dino?
DinoThanks, Carlos. I’m going to _______________23. First, I’m going to talk about the timeline of the takeover. After that, I’ll talk about how it will affect human resources. Finally, we’ll talk about how exchange rates may affect business after the takeover.
SanjayAnd what about travel budgets? I really think –
CarlosCould you just _______________24? I don’t _______________25 to this meeting. Dino, continue.
B Match the statements (26–30) with the replies (a–e).
26Nice to see you again, Sam.
a)Nice to meet you.
27Alex, this is Natalie.
b)Not too bad, thanks.
28I don’t think our strategy is working.
c)Maria, how are you?
29How are you?
30Could I call him and mention your name?
e)Let’s consider another approach.
A Match the sentence beginnings (31–40) with the best endings (a–j).
31Awareness of a brand is
a)being in a very bad situation.
32The American word ‘freeway’ is
b)being thrown in at the deep end.
c)called price fixing.
34A video advert being sent from friend to friend by e-mail is
d)how familiar people are with it, or with its logo or slogan.
35The difference between the price of a product and the cost of producing it is
e)an example of viral advertising.
36Being given a very difficult task with little preparation time is
f)called a tariff.
37A probationary period when you start a job is
g)usually three months long.
38A tax on imported goods is
h)the profit margin.
39If competing companies agree to hold prices at a certain level, it’s
i)when a company reduces the number of people it employs.
40Being on the ropes means
j)‘motorway’ in British English.
A Complete the article using the correct form of the verbs in brackets
JD steps across the Channel to buy Chausport
By Samantha Pearson
JD Sports Fashion kicked off its plans for international expansion by __________41 (buying / to buy) Chausport, a French sportswear chain, for ˆ8m cash, or roughly £7m.
The UK’s third-biggest sportswear retailer by turnover said it would acquire all 78 stores and share capital of Chausport, which __________42 (is based / bases) in northern France, and inherit its net debt of ˆ2m.
Young shoppers – less affected by the recession than their parents – __________43 (did continue / have continued) to queue for popular brands of trainers and tracksuits in the downturn, allowing JD __________44 (performing / to perform) better than some on the British high street.
The company __________45 (was saying / said): ‘This strategic acquisition gives JD the opportunity for further growth by entering a new and sizeable European market outside of its established bases in the UK and Ireland.’ FT
B Find and correct the error in each sentence.
46 You shouldn’t to ask for a discount.
47 We decided outsource the design work to a firm in India.
48 Where do you go right now?
49 I’m leaving now and I give you a lift if you like.
50 I don’t know if we will be hire a new sales assistant this quarter.
A You have received the following e-mail. Write a short letter (50–60 words) to Mr Espen.
I’m in Shanghai. I have an appointment on Thursday morning in Hong Kong with Tomas Espen. I was supposed to send him some drawings ahead of the meeting. They’re on my desk. Please could you post them to him and apologise for not sending them earlier? Ask him to call me on my mobile if he wants to talk about them ahead of the meeting. I’m not sure if he’s got my number, so could you give it to him, please?
B You work for a PR consultancy. You have been asked to write a press release (120–140 words) for Healthy Planet Organic Gardens, a chain of garden centres. Use the notes you made during a recent meeting with the company.
· Going nationwide, with new stores opening this year in Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff (London store very successful in first three years)
· Stores educate and inform (gardening great way for kids to learn about the natural world + every store has nature education centre/library)
· London location being expanded: add in-house garden design service using the latest CAD (computer assisted design) software.
· Gardening a family activity; also produces healthy food
You are going to have a speaking test that will last 10 to 15 minutes. The examiner will ask you to spend five minutes preparing the short presentation below. You may make notes during this time if you wish.
You have been asked to attend a professional conference. While you are there you will give a short presentation about your company/college. The presentation is for people who are thinking of joining the company/attending the college. Prepare to:
· greet the group and introduce yourself.
· explain the activities of the company/college.
· explain the benefits of joining the company/attending the college.
· invite the audience to visit the company/college and explain what visitors see when they tour the company/college.