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If you can see it, you can be it.

Bill Carroll says the opposite is also true: If you can’t see it, you have no chance of being it
Industry Matters Newsletter
Bill Carroll, Carroll Applied Science, LLC
Bill Carroll, Carroll Applied Science, LLC

Bill Carroll, Carroll Applied Science, LLC

Bill Carroll holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University where he is currently an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry. He recently retired as Vice President of Industry Issues for Occidental Chemical Corporation. He recently retired after 37 years in the chemical industry and now heads his own company, Carroll Applied Science. Bill is a Past President (2005) and Chair of the Board (2012-14) of ACS, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and member of a number of committees for the National Research Council. In 2009, he was chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. On behalf of OxyChem he has chaired numerous committees for industry associations, including the American Chemistry Council and has served on expert groups commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme. He holds two patents, and has more than 70 publications in the fields of organic electrochemistry, polymer chemistry, combustion chemistry, incineration and plastics recycling. 

I’m a visual learner and I believe in the power of imagination. My reliance on the visual even impacted the branch of chemistry I entered. I became an organic chemist, rather than a physical chemist, because I could imagine atoms moving and see reaction pathways. Well, that and the fact that I nearly failed calculus and thermodynamics. In my industry career, I tried to imagine myself in the next job—actually doing the things required for that job—in order to prepare myself if the opportunity arose. I called it "wearing the hat.” And when I was comfortable in the hat, I was ready. 

There is also a corollary: In order to do the impossible, you first have to think the unthinkable. My first involvement in ACS governance was when someone suggested I run for ACS President. I guess it’s pretty cheeky to think your first office in an organization of 160,000 members should be president. But the opportunity arose and after first dismissing it, I imagined myself in that position, which allowed me to think, “with enough work, maybe I could do this.” Wearing the hat, if you will. Think something outrageous, and ask yourself “Why not?” 

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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