Few modern businessmen exemplify the age-old proverb that hard work is the key to success like Montréal native, Louis Chênevert. Through his insight, masterful efficiency, and dedication, he has had a career that seems to seamlessly flow from one success to another.
Early interest in business and entrepreneurship led Chênevert to attend HEC Montréal Business School at the University of Montréal where he earned a bachelor of business administration in product management. His education would benefit him throughout his varied career, beginning with his first management position, overseeing the General Motors assembly line in Montréal. His insight and hard work resulted in multiple promotions, eventually leading to him become the general production manager.
After 14 years with GM, Chênevert decided the time had come to move forward. With some convincing from fellow GM veteran Karl Krapek, Chênevert decided to try his hand in the aerospace industry, taking a position with Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), an aircraft engine manufacturer located near Montréal. Chênevert showed a steady pattern of hard work and dedication throughout his career with PWC. From 1993 to 1996, Chênevert saw such successes as cutting manufacturing costs by 10% and manufacturing time for engines from 24 months down to nine months. In 1996 Chênevert was inviting to join the larger American branch of Pratt & Whitney (P&W), where he became the president of operations in merely three years.
Chênevert’s success did not go unnoticed; leaders in United Technologies Corporation (UTC), P&W’s parent company, were taking note. Chênevert was seemingly defying the current market downswing by protecting P&W from any major losses. He continued to achieve financial goals and encourage innovation in a time when many other companies were struggling. His hard work continued to pay off; in 2006 UTC invited him to join as chairman of the corporation, a transition that led to further industry innovation and success.
In two short years, Chênevert was named the CEO and president of UTC, giving him the opportunity to make big decisions that proved to be improvements on an already successful company. Unlike P&W, UTC is an industry conglomerate, owning companies that manufacture a wide variety of technology and equipment including jet engines, escalators, helicopters, air-conditioners, and much more.
Soon after becoming CEO, Chênevert made some important, though surprising decisions. One of his most surprising decisions was to move all of UTC’s productions back to the company’s hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. Although Hartford is far from an inexpensive place to run a business, Chênevert felt that having everything in one place would promote innovation and quality workmanship. He was right.
Another surprising decision was Chênevert’s choice to invest in Geared Turbofan (GTF) jet engines. Chênevert first encountered these engines while working for PWC; he felt these would be the engines of the future, being more fuel efficient and less harsh on the environment. Once more, he was right. The GTF engine is now one of P&W’s most profitable engines, both financially and environmentally, saving more than 40 million gallons of fuel, avoiding almost 383,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2016 to mid-2018.
Chênevert’s final surprising decision while working for UTC was to retire after just six years of being president. Although his time with UTC was relatively small, his impact, not only on UTC but on the entire industry, certainly was not. Chênevert continues to work hard, sitting on a number of advisory boards, including the Yale Cancer Center. He has not slowed down during his retirement, nor has he ceased to succeed, proving time and time again that hard work and determination truly are the keys to success.