Jim Owens, CEO of HB Fuller, posing for a photo

H.B. Fuller CEO Jim Owens on Why Businesses Should Stick to Core Values

Friday, June 21, 2019

Adhesives aren’t something most people think about, but they touch nearly every industry — from flooring to textiles to clean energy and beyond. That means that companies like H.B. Fuller almost literally hold the world together. It also gives CEO Jim Owens a broad—and unique— view of the business world. We sat down with him to ask about business education, advice for graduates, and how business can shape the world.

Why are you passionate about shaping the future of the Carlson School?

Supporting the values of an institution that is changing the world is something I view as a great personal contribution. At the Carlson School, there’s an understanding that business has the ability to make the world a better place through corporate responsibility. They instill that value into students every day.

If you could give graduates one piece of advice, what would it be?

It all comes down to thinking about others, being curious, and working hard. People who instill these values make a big difference.

I also think it’s important to learn from everyone, whether that’s a colleague or your Uber driver. Lifelong learners realize a lifetime of success.

What role would you like to play in shaping the future of business education?

I’d like to help people realize that business shapes reality — it’s an idea that’s often lost. Corporate social responsibility and improving the world only happen when businesses thrive and make those things happen. Raising awareness of that, including to people inside the business community, is incredibly important.

How do you think business can be a force for good?

I firmly believe that business is a fundamental force for good. Universities can create ideas, and government can set up frameworks, but only business can turn those good ideas into reality. Only business can design sustainable solutions, create organic products, or harness the power of solar energy; only business can develop new technologies, like cell phones, that improve how we connect with the world. 

That force for good exists in the business community — the true challenge is taking great ideas and turning them into reality.