Leadership: Take One for the Team

YLDP Houston students with Bhavesh Patel, CEO LyondellBasell.

YLDP Houston students with Bhavesh Patel, CEO LyondellBasell.

By Aditi Prabhu

HOUSTON: On Saturday, March 3, the Youth Leadership Development Program of Houston convened in India House and listened in awe as Bhavesh Patel, CEO of one of the largest plastics, chemicals, and refining companies in the world, LyondellBasell, recounted his path to success in the business world. Patel eloquently and selflessly shared with us the knowledge and insight gained from decades of experience in business management, allowing us to use these insights not only in our future careers, but throughout our entire lives.

The first of Patel’s many valuable lessons was that of having a strong foundation and support system. He described how, despite growing up in a household tight on money, it was his family’s support that allowed him to attend university and earn his degree. This prompted many of us to consider our own support systems, and created in us a new appreciation for what we currently have. Patel then emphasized the importance of ethical business practices, describing how he earned his position at Chevron by being straightforward during his interview and not deceiving his employers as to his goals.

He went on to revolutionize the company for the next 20 years, even guiding them through the 2008 recession. This lesson stood out to us highly, as it not only exemplified ethics in a world increasingly full of the opposite, but also showed to us the importance of grit and perseverance. Through this, Patel effectively inspired us to be our best selves going forth into our future careers.

Bhavesh Patel, CEO LyondellBasell

Bhavesh Patel, CEO LyondellBasell

Perhaps Patel’s most important lesson to us, however, was the importance of the team. When tasked with restructuring LyondellBasell, Patel focused entirely on doing what would most benefit the entire company, even at potential risk to him. Within a few years LyondellBasell was prospering like never before. This, he emphasized to us, was the most important aspect of leadership. To put the team before ourselves, to focus on the group instead of the individual, was the key to being a successful manager. Upon discussing this within our groups, we all agreed that this would most influence our leadership decisions in our future careers. With this, Patel had inspired us to be better, most compassionate people, and we were eager to get started.

In short, Bhavresh Patel’s presentation was captivatingly informative, and the privilege of hearing him is one that none of us have taken for granted. By sharing with us his knowledge of leadership, Patel has truly helped to create a future of strong, effective leaders like himself.

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