Jillian Richardson, 30
Marketing and Communication Manager, Engineered Materials, Celanese Corp.
Jillian Richardson previously worked as the fundraising development manager for the education nonprofit City Year, where Celanese Corp. was a key donor bringing the organization to Dallas. The more the two groups partnered to help the community, Richardson said, the more she learned about the materials firm and found deeper interest in the plastics industry.
"When the opportunity to join the philanthropy team at Celanese presented itself, I knew it was the right move for me to learn from the inside as the Celanese Foundation communication specialist," Richardson said. "After years of collaboration in the philanthropic space, I made the move to the commercial sales team for an unbelievable, firsthand experience in Plastics 101, which enhanced my competencies to transition into my current role as marketing and communications manager for North America."
Richardson has a bachelor's and master's degree in communications. She is a member of the Dallas Regional Chamber Young Professionals organization, National Sales Network and Leadership ISD – Dallas County Civic Voices.
"I currently virtually tutor for Girls Inc. and [am] a Leadership ISD 2021 fellow advocating for students and advancing racial equity and academic excellence through advocacy and policy," she said.
Richardson said volunteering has always been a priority in her life.
"A few months before I started in my philanthropy role, our CEO made a grand announcement that our employees would log 100,000 volunteer hours over the course of the year. The highest to date was 30,000, and when I was hired in April we hadn't even made a dent. Kicking into gear, we launched a global campaign with volunteer champions in each region to boost support. These champions helped me identify local needs that I would use to pinpoint organizations and volunteer opportunities fitting employee schedules and centered on values they cared about," Richardson said of her greatest achievement. "Ending the year knowing our employees gave back to their communities through over 121,400 volunteer hours is something I will never forget."
To relax and unwind, Richardson likes to get outdoors, meditate, practice yoga and play board games. She lives in Dallas with her fiancé and dog.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Richardson: The mechanisms we used prior to the pandemic cannot be applied to today's global economy. Functions like forecasting and in-person sales meetings have all needed to pivot to keep everything running smoothly. I am continuously thinking outside of the traditional route to maintain personable relationships with customers and find ways to maneuver difficult situations to address their needs.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Richardson: I am fascinated [by] the emerging market of polymers in microneedles. More now than ever, we are seeing the international need for safe and effective routes to administer therapies like vaccines. The right polymer formulation in microneedles allows for localized, controlled-release deliveries. Additionally, microneedles decrease hazardous waste from the disposal of conventional needles and do not require expensive equipment or complicated training to administer, expanding their availability to underserved areas.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Richardson: My generation and the generations of the future must lead the way in sustaining a healthy environment, including finding renewable energy and resources. I believe the continued development in technology in the plastics industry, not the elimination of plastics, will play a critical part in success. One approach to improving plastics' sustainability in my personal life is having discussions about how our polymers go into applications that already improve the world. The benefits of lightweighting in vehicles or various medical devices that make things safer for us all. In my community, I recycle at home as well as participate in drives and pickups when available. Every conversation and action no matter how small can make an impact.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Richardson: Today's business environment requires bold leadership. The industry can expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion by encouraging organizations to publicly report diversity statistics such as minority representation in executive roles or data outlining how they are actively building and retaining a diverse talent pipeline. I believe this level of brave transparency will inspire active, intentional allies on the individual level and ensure diversity and inclusion is more than an add-on but an intrinsic value woven into the culture of the entire industry.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Richardson: I am lucky to have three sisters who continuously model strength, resilience, humility and unconditional love. Their support is immeasurable, and I am so proud to be their sister and to have always looked up to them.