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The Secret Thoughts of CEO's Podcast

Sep 6, 2021

Steve Shifman, the President and CEO of Michelman since 2003, is a global developer of specialized sustainable chemistry. Not only is Michelman an environmentally conscious company, but it’s core values are embedded into the organization as well as its people. Steve discusses how to interview a candidate to  determine if they align with their core values, which has been the cornerstone of this multi-generational family business.  This episode sheds light into the pandemic and the strain and mental fatigue employees continue to endure. Michelman, with Steve at the helm, is a company that  takes care of the planet, the people, but still has to drive profit. What is touched upon is how profit may be sacrificed in the short term, with the long term gain being the well-being of the employees and the planet.


What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  1. How confidence levels evolve in leadership and how that relates to effective leadership
  2. Why skill set is just one component of leadership
  3. What place does humility play to staying within the “guardrails”
  4. What values have to do with the hiring process
  5. Mistakes interviewers make when speaking with new candidates
  6. How does employee behavior affect other employees
  7. Why tying action back to the value of company is critical
  8. What impact relational skills with customers has on your business
  9. Why it is vital for leaders to model expectations and right behavior
  10. How balancing work and life may or may not affect success
  11. A CEO’s perspective on worry...does it have a place






Websites: www.



Steven J. Shifman is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Michelman, a large privately held global technology and manufacturing company.  Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and employing approximately 500 associates Michelman has sales and administrative offices, technology centers, and manufacturing operations in the United States, Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore, China, India, and Japan.


Michelman’s purpose is to Innovate a Sustainable Future, providing solutions through applied chemistry in a variety of industrial market segments ranging from printing and packaging, to industrial coatings, to glass and carbon fibers.  Industry leaders call upon Michelman to develop sustainable solutions that help them to address their challenges, deal with a rapidly changing global and regulatory environment, and to grow their businesses. 


Steve has had a diverse career both before and at Michelman.  His experience has ranged from sales and sales management, to Finance where he served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, to leadership of one of the company’s business units, ultimately culminating in his appointment as the Chief Executive Officer in 2003.  During his tenure, Michelman has grown substantially in size and profitability, and has become a much more global business.  Originally, primarily a North American business, over this 17-year period, the company has diversified globally with now more than 50% of its business being generated outside of the United States. The global business has been built both organically and through acquisition.  For these accomplishments, Steve Shifman was named the Ernst & Young Midwest Entrepreneur of the Year for the manufacturing sector.


Shifman is a progressive leader whose results are measured not only in the impressive numbers Michelman has delivered but also in the dedication and commitment his team offers to all of the company’s stakeholders.  Shifman is a firm believer in purpose driven leadership, and has worked to engage every Michelman associate in the organization’s journey.  Under his leadership Michelman lives by the values of Integrity, Respect, Success, Collaboration, Curiosity, and Giving.  These values inform both Shifman’s leadership philosophy and the company’s decisions around strategy, hiring, and investments. 


Michelman is committed to building its business for generations to come, while at the same time delivering against aggressive annual performance expectations as measured by the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Profit.  While focusing on sustainability and value creation, Michelman associates are also actively engaged in communities around the globe. You’ll find members of the Michelman team serving on boards, coaching, tutoring, mentoring, and raising funds for those in need.


In addition to serving on the Michelman Board of Directors, Shifman also has had extensive experience serving on both for-profit and not-for-profit boards.  His for-profit experience has focused primarily on family-owned and privately-held businesses.  What he brings to these boards is his experience in multi-generational, purpose-driven, people-first, and global enterprises. 


The best manifestation of his personal values is the work he does in the Cincinnati community.  Steve is the current Chairman of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati Board.  He was called upon by members of the community, including the former board chair of Proctor & Gamble, to lead a turn-around of this struggling United Way, one of the country’s largest.  In addition, he just finished his term as the Co-Chair of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, an organization comprised of community engaged mid-cap CEOs.  He helped to chair the successful tax levy for the Preschool Promise, a first-of-its kind, publicly funded universal preschool program.  He then went on to serve as a board member.  He also recently completed a term as the inaugural Board Chair for Teach for America in Southwest Ohio.   Finally, he is currently serving on the RESTART Cincinnati task force comprised of Cincinnati business and medical leaders charged with guiding Cincinnati out of the Covid-19 crisis.


Steve and his wife Julie reside in Cincinnati, Ohio, and have four adult sons.  Along with his business and community commitments, Steve is an avid cyclist, skier, hiker, and runner.  He is also passionate about travel, the arts, great food and wine.  And, most importantly, Steve and Julie welcomed their first grandson