Domenic Di Mondo, 34
Vice President, Technology & Business Development, GreenMantra Technologies
Although his job has evolved since the beginning, Domenic Di Mondo said he is still "technically" in his first plastics job, nearly 10 years later.
Di Mondo has a bachelor's degree in physical science and master's degree in inorganic chemistry from the University of Guelph. He also has executive certificates in venture finance from the University of Oxford Saïd Business School and in strategy and innovation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.
"After graduate school, I saw two options for myself: one, to continue down the academic path by pursuing a Ph.D. or, two, head out into the 'real world' and start working within industry," he said. "I made the decision to go directly into industry by joining GreenMantra upon graduation. I chose the industry path because I was eager to get out there and see what I could contribute to the world."
Di Mondo has held roles as research and development manager, technical director and now vice president of technology and business development of Brantford, Ontario-based recycling technology firm GreenMantra Technologies.
"The main thing that drew me to GreenMantra and the plastic recycling sector was my work in graduate school. Through that work, I saw how waste could be transformed into a resource, and I wanted to continue to do that in my career," he said. "I wanted to work at a company with a tangible social impact. I wanted to see the direct line of how I would be impacting change. It was these criteria that led me to GreenMantra. I had the right skill sets but no experience, so GreenMantra took a chance hiring me to lead R&D."
Di Mondo's parents immigrated to the United States — first to the Brooklyn borough of New York City then to Canada — from Italy. His parents started their own pizzerias and real estate and wedding planning businesses. "Both my parents have taught me the value of hard work and perseverance," Di Mondo said.
He is involved with the Asphalt Institute (Asphalt Technical Advisory Committee), Advanced Recycling Alliance for Plastics (American Chemistry Council), Advanced Recycling Innovator Program (Closed Loop Partners), Chemical Industry Association of Canada (Plastics Division), Association of Plastic Recyclers, Canadian Society for Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Sustainable Development Advisory Council (Canadian Federal Government).
"My ultimate aspiration is to be a leader in creating more circular solutions for waste materials," he said. "Currently, I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing, but in the future, that path could either be on the investment or entrepreneur side of the clean technology industry."
Christy Sapp, global market development director of GreenMantra Technologies, nominated Di Mondo.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Di Mondo: I'm proud of my work at GreenMantra: Every year we hit new milestones and our continued growth shows that sustainable businesses can be successful. Being part of this team and leading its rapid scale-up has been my greatest achievement so far — but I imagine when I look back 10 or 20 years from now, my answer will be different because I know we are just at the beginning of this journey. There is still a lot we want to accomplish as a company, and we are well underway.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Di Mondo: Currently, I am focused on two broad challenges: (1) scaling GreenMantra's commercial business, which means building a strong infrastructure and pipeline for collection and sortation of undervalued discarded plastics feedstocks; and (2) creation of new specialty polymer products from discarded plastics. I want to continue to push the envelope on the type of performance polymers that can be generated from discarded plastics. This will allow us to create solutions for new markets, build more demand for our products and ultimately divert more plastic from landfill.
If I had to pinpoint a single biggest challenge, it would probably be my work in identifying and utilizing new feedstock streams for our process. The foundation of GreenMantra's business model is to target contaminated, undervalued plastic streams and transform those streams into high-value products. As GreenMantra continues to grow, we want to be more aggressive in the types of plastic waste that we use as a feedstock. As you can imagine, each new stream of plastic poses new challenges, and we use the tools within our process to overcome those.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Di Mondo: The use of supercritical CO2 as a method for purification of wastestreams is an area that deserves a closer look. This greenhouse gas, when brought to its fluid state, can have some very interesting applications within plastic recycling. I look forward to following how different technologies and companies attempt to apply and scale it.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Di Mondo: Whenever you are approached with a problem, start from the position of "Yes, it can be solved," and then work optimistically towards a solution.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Di Mondo: I have continued my education at MIT and Oxford by taking courses and obtaining certificates related to finance, commercial growth, project and business management, and entrepreneurship. I am a member of CEO Global Network, which is a CEO national networking group that allows me to network and learn from other senior executives at various sized companies.
I have also actively engaged in emotional intelligence learning, working with coaches and courses related to building emotional intelligence. This is an area which I feel particularly passionate about, as I believe that emotional intelligence is a key to becoming a great leader and helping those around me succeed. I have also sponsored emotional intelligence at GreenMantra for emerging leaders in our company.