Oscar Marchena, 24
Account Manager – Growth, Nexeo Plastics LLC
Oscar Marchena's interest in plastics spurred from learning about the plastics engineering program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he attended on a sports scholarship. Miami-born Marchena pictured a plastics degree as a "great opportunity to mix disciplines I was familiar with via my dad and brother in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering along with interests in the chemical engineering side."
"Once I realized the breadth of the plastics field from medical devices to the automotive sector and everything in between, I envisioned countless opportunities in the professional realm," said Marchena, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in plastics engineering.
His first plastics role was with a rotational internship program at medical contract manufacturer SMC Ltd., where he gained experience in functions such as processing and tooling. He started at resin distributor Nexeo Plastics LLC as a sales associate and is now account manager – growth in Boston.
As an account manager who started his current role in May 2020, Marchena said the biggest impact of the pandemic has been operating within the confines of remote work.
"As the face of Nexeo to my customers, building and furthering a relationship with customers has no doubt been interesting. Typically, this sort of role brings about weekly travel to the facilities of my clients, but the pandemic has resulted in myself visiting or meeting in person with less than 10 percent of my active customers over this almost two-year span — absolutely unheard of in a pre-COVID world for plastics distribution representatives as account managers who already tend to spend years strengthening that relationship at the customer level," he said. "Nonetheless, it has allowed me to grow with them in new ways."
One of his current challenges at work, he said, "continues to be the difficult sourcing environment we find ourselves in as a result of a series of events beginning with the pandemic."
"Rising costs and delicate supply chains continue to put stress on customers, going on about two years of back and forth," he said.
Marchena is involved with the Society of Plastics Engineers. To learn more and grow in his career, Marchena speaks with individuals with "varying degrees of experience within the plastics world."
"Specifically at Nexeo," he said, "I especially focus on discussing the experiences of those who have been with the company since its days as General Polymers and Ashland as they have seen so much change in their careers. From this change, I find that there is much to learn to improve the future."
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Marchena: The industry allows you the widest range of professional opportunity available in my opinion. Think about it, how often do we come across plastic in our daily routines? Each of these products have a story and a dedicated team around them to support their function/goal. Pair this with a very experienced plastics professional workforce, the industry absolutely needs to continue to recruit the next generation of professionals to keep on pace with the growing demand.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Marchena: Take a deep dive into what drives each of my employees. It is only through this that companies can create the best culture and drive growth to respond to the marketplace quickly. Each employee is driven by different motivators and providing what is most important on an individual basis will allow employees to excel in their responsibilities.
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?
Marchena: Plastics and sustainability is a constant learning environment, and what I believe best is that all should challenge their own assumptions with research, you'd be surprised at what you find. It is each of our own individual responsibilities to improve the current dynamic around becoming more sustainable. Personally, I always seem to get funny looks when describing my collegiate degree (plastics engineering) and my current role as a distributor. What I have found best is to educate my friends, families and acquaintances around what the plastics world is actually doing to become more circular.