Christopher Gee, 35
Title: Global business director
Birthplace: Point Pleasant, N.J.
Social media: LinkedIn
Education: Bachelor's degree in mechanical and civil engineering, master's degree in engineering management, both from Drexel University
Career highlights (all with Braskem): I started with the company in 2003 as an engineering associate and completed three one-year rotations as a facilities engineer, maintenance engineer and supply chain analyst. Afterward, I became the distribution sales manager for our polypropylene group, then as supply chain manager I led that group for four years, through an acquisition, and then had the opportunity to live in Germany for the company for two years. I then served as product manager before taking my current role as global business director for our ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene product line, Utec.
Associations: I volunteer at the Science Leadership Academy, a school for high school students in Philadelphia that are interested in science, technology and engineering careers. It's a great organization and school for the next generation of contributors to our industry.
Q: What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Gee: The periods of our company acquisitions are extremely intense, to integrate companies together, and you always would like to go back and do something different based on what you have learned. But these experiences are invaluable to our teams and in the end we always end up in a better place than where we were before.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Gee: Our current challenge is the delivery of a technology transfer from Brazil to the United States. Last year we announced that we would build a new UHMWPE plant in La Porte, Texas. As the project progresses, we are focused on delivering the next generation of products to our clients and expanding our market share in North America and beyond.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Gee: I think the technologies that will be most successful will address how sustainable they can make end-use solutions for people. This can come in several ways, from lightweighting to longer life cycles, renewable resources, energy saving and waste-reducing technologies.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Gee: The thing that surprised me most about the plastics industry is how personal it can be. Now that I have been in the industry for a few years, it's a great feeling to run into familiar faces at conferences, to catch up with prior colleagues who are in new roles, and to see each organization we do business with progress. By numbers, our industry looks big from the outside, but we seem to have familiar faces wherever we go.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Gee: A phrase my mother would always give our family during difficult times was, “This too shall pass.” It always reminded me that no matter the situation, we can always find determination to get through life with the support of those around us.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Gee: Your career needs to fit with your personal life. The plastics industry has a lot to offer young professionals, and the future will provide many opportunities for growth.
Q: If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Gee: I would hire the best human resource leader and executive assistant I could find. They are two of the strongest supporters and representations of the company. People make the difference, and in organizations these roles define success.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Gee: My mother has always been my rock. No matter what life has thrown at me, she has always been there with support and love.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Gee: If I am lucky enough to keep progressing in my career, I always want to use my prior experiences to provide leadership and motivation to others — whatever job title and company that fits into is secondary.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Gee: Playing guitar and piano, cycling and enjoying time with my wife and son.