Born in Spain, Pere Ferrer Borrell, 32, has a double degree in materials engineering from École Européenne d'Ingénieurs en Génie des Matériaux in France and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain. During his schooling, he studied in Barcelona; Nancy, France; Saarbrücken, Germany; Luleå, Sweden; and Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
"My first job related to plastic was in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where I was doing my final master thesis on flame retardant solutions using biomaterials for the automotive industry. There, I was using a small compounding line, an injection machine and several laboratory equipment to develop new solutions that combined safety and lower carbon footprint," Ferrer Borrell said.
Ferrer Borrell was a research engineer and published his first article in 2015; worked as an application engineer for plastic injection molding and became commercial director; founded Gau3di, a metal additive manufacturing startup, in 2020; and joined Nexeo Plastics as an application development engineer.
"I have always been involved in the plastics industry on the role of applications development engineer. Initially by promoting new solutions on tool steel for plastic injection molds and currently by advising on new polymer solutions in markets such as packaging, automobiles, electrical and electronics, cable, personal care, furniture, etc.," he said.
Ferrer Borrell added: "My way of working is always ruled by being honest and transparent. … I think roles like mine have huge responsibility since they are usually in touch with the first stages of new projects. Caring about giving the best solution for each challenge has a true impact when products get [launched] to the market."
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Ferrer Borrell: I am currently working as an application development engineer at Nexeo Plastics, responsible for technical development in France, Spain and Portugal. Nowadays, the challenges I face daily are to cope with all new regulations in the electrical and e-mobility market, as well as staying up to date with new emerging sustainable solutions.
It is quite interesting to learn the different approaches on sustainability depending on each market, which can go from recyclable solutions, bio-based materials or replacing metal to polymers, among others. And all of these, by making sure that the materials selected fulfill all the requirements demanded by the application.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Ferrer Borrell: I think a company is more likely to succeed and produce better results if it has a greater diversity of employees. One of the key things to do could be increasing the presence from underrepresented groups, for example, by partnering with talent pools and universities all over the world. [This] would lead to a better professional environment where people would feel more valued and respected.
Another thing that I personally believe is highly important but that we frequently overlook is collaboration. Mentorship programs are essential to retaining and attracting top talent to the plastics sector.
Q: What steps have you taken to advance in your career?
Ferrer Borrell: I will mention three things that are important to me and they help me to keep growing and improving:
Proactivity. Daring to take new challenges is key to advance in this industry. Some of the things I do and enjoy doing include building a strong network with my clients since they have taught me a lot of the things I know, keeping up with new developments and going to conferences and fairs.
Listening. I had the chance of being surrounded by incredible and talented people who are instructing and mentoring me. Listening is also an important quality to develop in this industry since there is a lot of knowledge around.
Perseverance. Finally, focusing on clear goals and staying organized are not always simple tasks; understanding what subjects to address based on urgency and importance is crucial.