James J. O'Brien, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Ashland Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James J. O'Brien, 59, knows Ashland and knows the chemical business. Since 2002, he has presided over the transformation of Ashland from a multi-industry petroleum refiner and marketer with holdings in chemicals and transportation construction into a global specialty chemical company. O'Brien guides a company of approximately 15,000 employees working to develop products, services and solutions that, through chemistry, meet customers' needs and contribute to improved quality of life.
As chairman and chief executive officer, O'Brien leads Ashland's Executive Committee, whose members set Ashland's global strategy, manage its capital, and uphold Ashland's operating principles.
O'Brien joined the former Ashland Chemical Company in 1976 as an accountant, a year after starting as an accounting intern. He quickly moved into operations, serving in product marketing and sales management positions in the chemicals and plastics businesses during the '80s.
By 1992, Ashland, then known as Ashland Oil Inc., was a large multi-industry corporation: the largest North American distributor of chemicals and plastics; a leading supplier of specialty chemicals worldwide; one of the U.S.'s largest highway contractors; a producer of natural gas, crude oil and coal; one of the largest independent refiners; a regional gasoline retailer and a top U.S. motor oil marketer. Also by 1992, O'Brien had gained the attention of then-Chairman and CEO John R. Hall. Hall tapped O'Brien to serve as his executive assistant to support him as the company grew its nonrefining businesses, strengthened its competitive position and focused on reducing its dependence on earnings from refining.
The year 1994 saw O'Brien, as vice president of Ashland Oil and general manager of branded marketing, take on the challenge of reinvigorating Ashland's branded gasoline marketing operations. Barely a year later, he was named president of the company's Valvoline division and became an executive officer of Ashland. At Valvoline, O'Brien and his team implemented a master brand strategy, while driving innovation and expanding the product line. In 2001, as group operating officer, O'Brien initiated the successful redesign of the Ashland Distribution business model and increased Ashland Specialty Chemical's focus on markets, new products and applications and geographic expansion.
This broad experience in all facets of the company prepared O'Brien for the leadership role he holds today. With his proven teambuilding skills and a clear vision of the Ashland of the future, O'Brien was elected to his present role of chairman and chief executive officer in 2002.
A native of Circleville, Ohio, O'Brien is a graduate of The Ohio State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance and a master's degree in business administration. He is a 1994 graduate of Leadership Kentucky.
O'Brien serves as a director of Humana Inc. and Albemarle Corp. He is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council for the Fisher Graduate College of Business at The Ohio State University, and a member of the board of directors of the American Chemistry Council.
Peter Ganz, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary; and Chief Compliance Office
Mr. Ganz, 51, joined Ashland in 2011 as senior vice president and general counsel, responsible for managing all legal and corporate governance matters pertaining to Ashland. In addition, he oversees the company's government relations function and serves as Ashland's chief compliance officer, chairing its Ethics and Compliance Committee. He also serves as a member of Ashland's Executive Committee, sharing overall responsibility for setting Ashland's global strategy, managing capital, and upholding Ashland's operating principles.
Immediately prior to joining Ashland, Ganz was a partner with the law firm Sedgwick LLP in Newark, N.J. From 2005 to 2010, he served as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Foster Wheeler AG, a global engineering, construction and project-management contractor and power-equipment supplier. Previously, he was senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of G-I Holdings Inc. (formerly GAF Corp.) and of its affiliate, International Specialty Products Inc., in Wayne, N.J., culminating a 10-year career with the GAF group of companies, where he worked in a number of positions of increasing responsibility. Earlier in his career, Ganz practiced litigation for law firms McCarter & English in Newark, N.J., and Kramer, Levin, Nessen, Kamin & Frankel in New York, N.Y. He began his legal career serving a federal judicial clerkship with the Hon. Anne E. Thompson in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Ganz earned his bachelor of arts degree from Duke University in 1984. In 1987, he received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. He is a member of the New York, New Jersey and Kentucky state bar associations and the American Corporate Counsel Association.
Theodore L. "Ted" Harris, Senior Vice President and President, Ashland Performance Materials
Mr. Harris, 48, was named president, Ashland Performance Materials, in 2009. He heads a worldwide commercial unit that is a global leader helping customers create stronger, lighter, more resistant substitutes for traditional materials through higher performing, cost-efficient resin and adhesive technologies that improve the manufacturing, fabrication and design process. Applied industries include manufacturing, building and construction, packaging and converting.
Harris joined the company in 2004 as vice president and general manager of the Composite Polymers group within Ashland Performance Materials. In 2006, he was named a vice president of Ashland and president of Ashland Distribution. In 2008, he was named president of Ashland's Global Supply Chain. In 2008 and 2009, he also led the development and execution of the global integration strategy related to the Hercules acquisition. In 2011, Harris was named a senior vice president of Ashland, while retaining his responsibilities for Performance Materials and the Global Supply Chain.
Immediately prior to joining Ashland, Harris served as general manager of the Food Ingredients Division within FMC's Food, Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Group in his career with FMC Corp., which began in 1992.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Harris earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University. He also holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.
Samuel J. Mitchell Jr., Senior Vice President and President, Valvoline
Mr. Mitchell, 51, heads Valvoline, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc. His responsibilities include leadership of the worldwide Valvoline business of automotive and commercial lubricants, chemicals, and appearance products, as well as growth of the company's quick-lube business and continued development of innovative premium products.
He joined Ashland in 1997 as director of marketing for Valvoline's brand management group. In August 1999, he was named vice president of marketing, and in 2000, vice president and general manager of the Valvoline DIY (Do-It-Yourself) retail business. He became president of Valvoline and a vice president of Ashland in 2002. In 2011, Mitchell was promoted to the role of senior vice president of Ashland, while retaining his responsibilities for Ashland Consumer Markets.
Prior to joining Ashland, he held brand and category management leadership positions at The Clorox Company for eight years.
A Birmingham, Mich., native, Mitchell earned a bachelor's degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.
He currently serves on the boards of the University of Kentucky Gatton College Dean's Advisory Council, Transylvania University, Fifth Third Bank of Kentucky, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association. He is active in his church and with Habitat for Humanity.
John E. Panichella, Senior Vice President and President, Ashland Water Technologies
Mr. Panichella, 54, was elected senior vice president of Ashland in 2011 and became president of Ashland Water Technologies in October 2013. For the previous two years, he had served as president of Ashland Specialty Ingredients and was group operating officer in fiscal year 2013 with Ashland Water Technologies reporting to him.
The worldwide commercial unit he directs, Ashland Water Technologies, is a leading supplier of specialty chemicals and services to the pulp, paper, mining, food and beverage, power generation, refining, chemical processing, general manufacturing and municipal markets. It offers chemical and equipment technologies and services designed to help customers improve operational efficiencies, enhance product quality, protect plant assets and minimize environmental impact.
Under Panichella's leadership, the Speciality Ingredients business enhanced core technologies with new product investments, added adjacent technologies, developed infrastructure to support growth in emerging markets and reduced costs in manufacturing operations.
Panichella joined Ashland in 2008 as a vice president and president of Ashland Aqualon Functional Ingredients, following Ashland's acquisition of Hercules, where he held a similar position. Prior to joining Hercules in 2006, Panichella enjoyed a 25-year career with General Electric and BetzDearborn, where he served in numerous management positions, including business development, operations management, sales and marketing, and strategic development. His last position at General Electric Water and Process Technologies was vice president and general manager of the Americas business. Before joining General Electric, he served as vice president of the Global Hydrocarbon Processing unit of BetzDearborn.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Panichella holds an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a volunteer and active supporter of Urban Promise, an organization serving children and youth living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Wilmington, Del.
J. Kevin Willis, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Willis, 48, was elected senior vice president and chief financial officer of Ashland in 2013. He oversees Ashland's worldwide financial functions and processes, including financial accounting and reporting, treasury and finance, insurance, business development, planning and analysis, investor relations, tax and internal audit activities. A member of Ashland's Executive Committee, he shares overall responsibility for setting Ashland's global strategy, managing capital, and upholding Ashland's operating principles.
Willis joined Ashland in 1987 as an associate auditor in the internal audit department. He served in various management positions of increasing responsibility, including leading teams on major projects in the business services, information technology, accounting and finance areas. Spending nearly three years in The Netherlands, he helped lead Ashland's effort to standardize processes and implement accounting and other administrative shared services across European operations.
In 2004, Willis was designated general auditor. Later in 2007, he was appointed vice president and treasurer of Ashland. Since Ashland's acquisition of International Specialty Products (ISP) in August 2011, Willis served as Ashland's vice president of finance, and controller for Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland's largest and fastest-growing commercial unit. He was responsible for the day-to-day management of the financial organization and processes within Specialty Ingredients and served on the leadership team.
A native of Richmond, Ky., Kevin earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Susan B. Esler, Vice President and Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer
Ms. Esler, 52, assumed leadership of both the human resources and corporate communications functions of Ashland in 2006. She is responsible for the global management of all aspects of human resources, including talent management and development, compensation and benefits, and labor and employee relations. Her communications responsibilities include corporate and financial communications, public relations and business-to-business marketing communications.
She joined Ashland in 1999 as manager, executive compensation. She was promoted in 2001 to director, corporate human resources, and in 2002, to vice president, human resources programs and services. In 2004, she became vice president, human resources, and in 2006, communications and corporate affairs were added to her responsibilities. She was named to her current position of vice president and chief human resources and communications officer in 2011.
Immediately prior to joining Ashland, Esler served as senior director of compensation, benefits and HRIS for PepsiCo Food Systems. She held various HR leadership roles within the PepsiCo organization starting in1990. Esler has also been employed as a compensation consultant with Mercer and started her working career at Dow Chemical as an HR specialist.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Esler is a graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and earned her master's degree in business administration from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. She currently serves on the board of trustees of the Cincinnati Museum Center and on the advisory board of the Cincinnati Children's Museum. She also serves on the steering committee of SOAR, a women's leadership organization.
Luis Fernandez-Moreno, Senior Vice President and President, Ashland Specialty Ingredients
Fernandez-Moreno, 52, joined Ashland in 2012 as president, Ashland Water Technologies. In October 2013, Fernandez-Moreno was elected senior vice president of Ashland and became the president of Ashland Speciality Ingredients.
Ashland Specialty Ingredients offers industry-leading products, technologies and resources for solving formulation and product-performance challenges in key markets including personal care, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, coatings, construction and energy. Using natural, synthetic and semisynthetic polymers derived from plant and seed extract, cellulose ethers and vinyl pyrrolidones, Specialty Ingredients offers comprehensive and innovative solutions for today's demanding consumer and industrial applications.
Since joining Ashland in November 2012, Fernandez-Moreno has been instrumental in revitalizing Ashland Water Technologies. Under his leadership, Water Technologies has simplified the business, focused on key growth opportunities and delivered better service and value for customers.
A 30-year veteran of the global chemical industry, Fernandez-Moreno previously served as executive vice president of Arch Chemicals, Inc. where he was responsible for the wood protection and HTH water products businesses. Prior to that, he served as business group vice president of Dow Coating Materials which was formed after Dow Chemical acquired Rohm & Haas in 2009. He previously spent more than 25 years with Rohm & Haas in a series of leadership roles spanning across Europe, Latin America and the United States.
Fernandez-Moreno earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. He also completed the Wharton Management Program at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
J. William Heitman, Vice President and Controller
Mr. Heitman, 59, joined Ashland in 2008 with more than 30 years of financial experience in various industries, including automotive and chemicals. As vice president and controller, he is responsible for Ashland's global financial accounting and reporting processes, including oversight of accounting policies and practices and external and internal financial reporting.
Previously, Heitman served as controller for the $9 billion North American Tire operations of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., responsible for all accounting and shared services for North America. While there, he was a key contributor to the significant restructuring of operations and implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and processes related to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. He joined Goodyear in 2004 after three years of experience in the chemical industry at Ferro Corp., where he served as vice president of finance and interim chief financial officer. At Ferro, he led the financial integration of a sizeable global acquisition and was a key contributor to a $500 million debt-reduction effort. Heitman was also vice president and controller for Moen Inc., where he spent six years. Earlier in his career, he held numerous financial positions during a 16-year tenure with TRW.
Heitman earned a B.S.B.A. degree in accounting and an M.B.A. in finance from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the Financial Executives Institute, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ohio Society of CPAs.
Anne T. Schumann, Vice President and Chief Information and Administrative Services Officer
Ms. Schumann, 53, was named vice president and chief information and administrative services officer in August 2009. In this role, she holds responsibility for Ashland's global information technology functions, security and facilities management.
Schumann joined the company in 2008 as vice president, acquisition integration, at the time Ashland acquired Hercules Incorporated. Previously, she served as Hercules' vice president of information technology from 2006, with responsibility for human resources added in 2008. She joined Hercules in 2000 as vice president of the Hercules Shared Services Center.
Before joining Hercules, Schumann served as director of finance and management operations for Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, Pa. She also spent 11 years with ARCO Chemical Company, holding various management positions in finance, human resources and global business operations. She began her career in 1984 with Continental Illinois National Bank, where she managed corporate banking portfolios.
A native of Chicago, Ill., Schumann earned a bachelor of science in environmental biology from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. in finance from Indiana University.
Walter H. Solomon, Vice President and Chief Growth Officer
Ashland vice president and chief growth officer since August 2005, Mr. Solomon, 53, is responsible for the company's enterprise strategy. His team has mapped Ashland's transformation from a U.S. regional oil refiner into a global specialty chemical company and leader in sustainable chemistry.
Solomon joined Ashland in 2002 as senior vice president and general manager of Ashland Consumer Markets' (Valvoline) Do-It-Yourself business unit. While in that role, his team grew profitability and premium lubricant volume each year.
Prior to joining Ashland, Solomon spent 20 years growing both large and small companies. His first 10 years were in a series of brand management roles with Procter & Gamble, ultimately directing marketing in P&G's hair care and juice drink businesses. During that time, Pantene* grew from a small, boutique brand into a $100+ million business en route to becoming one of P&G's billion-dollar global brands. He spent the next 10 years leading privately funded startup companies in the healthcare and software industries, including an Inc. 500* company and an internet technology incubator.
.A native of Charleston, S.C., Solomon has served as president, chairman or vice chairman of the board of trustees of four not-for-profit organizations and as a board member for six others. He received his bachelor's degree in commerce from the University of Virginia.
* Trademark owned by a third party
Eric N. Boni,
Vice President and Treasurer
John P. Goswell,
Vice President, Internal Audit
Scott A. Gregg,
Vice President, Tax
John W. "Jack" Joy,
Vice President, Corporate Development
Keith Silverman, PhD,
Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety, and Product Regulatory