William M. Schmitt

For his outstanding accomplishments and leadership as an engineer and a globally oriented business manager, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present, for the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award, William M. Schmitt.

Corporate Vice President and Vice President of International Operations
Olin Corporation
BS `64, Chemical Engineering


Mr. Schmitt joined Olin Corp. in 1966 as a urethane products salesman and quickly progressed through a series of sales and marketing management positions. In 1978 he was appointed vice president of sales for the company's Chemicals Group, its largest unit, and since then has served in a number of executive positions including vice president and general manager, Industrial Chemicals, and senior vice president, Chemicals Group. In his current position, which he has held since 1986, he is responsible for managing Olin's joint ventures, wholly owned subsidiaries, and offices located outside North America. His major priority is the globalization of several key Olin businesses. The company's international sales now comprise about 20 percent of corporate revenues. Mr. Schmitt is a graduate of the Harvard Business Schools Advanced Management Program.

  • Says Mr. Schmitt: "I think of Purdue as being a true top-quality organization. An engineering education provides a good technical background, but I appreciate it as well in a general sense: learning how to analyze and solve engineering problems teaches you how to adapt and make decisions in a variety of business situations."

  • "The world is becoming more complex in many ways and that's making engineering careers much more challenging. We should always remind ourselves that we function in a global environment which affects how you evaluate and interpret everything you are doing."

His advice for the graduating engineer:

"Make sure you pay attention to the constant advance of technology. Technical change will only accelerate in the years ahead. Try to balance your perspective with those of others on a worldwide basis. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve by listening to other people's ideas. Learn a second language and try to have an overseas assignment during your career."