Careers at Alcoa
Alcoa’s mission is to create innovative and sustainable solutions that move the world forward.
Alcoa is a provider of solutions manufactured from lightweight metals. The company operates five reportable business segments:
- Alumina – Consists of Alcoa‘s refining system. It mines bauxite to produce alumina.
- Primary Metals – Consists of Alcoa’s smelting system.It purchases alumina (largely from the Alumina segment) and produces primary aluminum.
- Global Rolled Products – Produces aluminum sheet and plate for a variety of end markets. One third of shipments go towards the production of aluminum cans (food, beverage, and pet food).
- Engineered Products and Solutions – Produces products used primarily in the aerospace (defense and commercial), power generation, and commercial transportation end markets.
- Transportation and Construction Solutions – Produces products used mostly in the commercial transportation and nonresidential building and construction end markets.
In 1886 recent college graduate and chemist Charles Martin Hall discovered that he could extract aluminum from bauxite ore through electrolysis – passing an electric current through the substance. Soon afterwards he met metallurgist and industrialist Alfred E. Hunt and showed him his process. Impressed, Hunt partnered with him to launch the Pittsburgh Reduction Company in 1888.
The firm’s first product was an aluminum tea kettle. The ease of the team’s ability to obtain aluminum made production more economical, enabling it to sell its offerings at lower prices and undercut competitors. The company realized it needed to come up with new practical uses for the metal, so it started a subsidiary that sold cooking utensils, Aluminum Cooking Utensil Company.
In 1907 the firm’s name was changed to Aluminum Company of America, or Alcoa for short. In the next few decades, Alcoa diversified by launching value-added businesses such as automotive and aerospace manufacturing. In 2015 it announced it would be splitting into two firms – one focused on aluminum, still called Alcoa, and the other focused on these value-added businesses, called Arconic.
Business model of Alcoa
Alcoa has a diversified markets business model, with customer groups that have very different needs. It targets its offerings at the following markets: Aerospace, Alumina, Aluminum Ingot, Automotive, Building and Construction, Commercial Transportation, Consumer Electronics, Defense, Electric, Industrial Gas Turbines, Industrial Solutions, and Packaging.
Alcoa offers two primary value propositions: innovation and brand/status.
The company has embraced innovation from its very start. Its contributions include the following:
- Making aluminum production economical through electrolysis of bauxite ore
- Building the first aluminum-sheathed skyscraper in the U.S.
- Producing the first aluminum wheel for a passenger car, the Cadillac Eldorado
- Developing the first canned beer easy opener system
- Creating the RSR joining system, which enables automakers to switch between weld types
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It is the world‘s third largest producer of aluminum, and one of the largest manufacturers of lightweight metal products made of aluminum, nickel, and titanium. It maintains operations in over 200 locations in 30 countries. Lastly, it has won a number of honors, including the following:
- Recognition as Most Admired Metals Company in the World by Fortune
- Duty of Care Award (partnerships category) by International SOS Foundation
- Recognition of Dura-Bright EVO as a Top 20 Product by Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine
- Recognition as Company of the Year (non-ferrous metals) by Brasil Mineral Magazine
- 2015 Supplier Award from Gulfstream for Alcoa Forgings and Extrusions
Alcoa’s main channels are the company’s business development and sales teams. The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, and participation in conferences.
Alcoa’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees.
Alcoa’s business model entails designing, developing, and manufacturing its products for customers.
Alcoa’s key partners are the suppliers who provide raw materials and components for many of its products. The company also partners with customers from time to time as part of the product development cycle in order to incorporate their preferences into new offerings.
Alcoa’s main resources are its physical resources. It operates the world’s largest light metals research facility (in Pittsburgh), maintaining similar hubs around the world.
It is also building a $60 million manufacturing center that will focus on advanced 3D printing techniques and materials; the center will be part of the company’s current R&D center.
Lastly, it depends on human resources in the form of the engineers and scientists who design, develop, and manufacture its solutions.
Alcoa has an economies of scale cost structure, with costs per unit output dropping as output expands. Its biggest cost driver is cost of goods sold, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing, research/development, and administration, all fixed costs.
Alcoa has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from the contracts it forms with clients to sell its products to them.
info: Klaus Kleinfeld earned a Ph.D. in Strategic Management at University of Wuerzburg and an MBA at the University of Goettingen. He previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Alcoa and as CEO of Siemens AG, where he worked for 20 years.
info: William F. Oplinger earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research at Virginia Tech University and an M.S. at Carnegie Mellon University. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer for Alcoa's Global Primary Products (GPP) unit.
info: Raymond Kilmer earned a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering at Purdue University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Virginia. He previously served as VP of Technology Development/Deployment at Alcoa.
info: Libby Archell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Australia. She previously served as Director of Corporate Affairs at Alcoa and as Director of Corporate Communications for Hewlett-Packard.
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