Denise DignamPresident, Advanced Performance Materials
A chemical engineer with a strong business background, Denise drives customer centered market-back innovation in the Advanced Performance Materials (APM) segment that matches customer needs with Chemours’ unmatched technical development capability to deliver essential solutions that help move society forward.
Q: What made you want to be a chemical engineer?
A: I’ve always had a knack for math and science but didn't really know what to do with it. One day, Drexel University hosted a chemical engineering open house and, knowing my love for STEM-related subjects, my Dad suggested, “Hey I think you would be a great engineer, why don’t you stop by?”. The thought of becoming a chemical engineer had never occurred to me, but the thought of figuring out the processes and components that make chemistry tangible was something that has always fascinated me. What I found is I love science, but even more so I love working with people to solve problems.
Q: You mentioned your parents being influential figures in your early career, tell us a little more about that?
A: I grew up in a big family where a strong work ethic was instilled in us from day one. Growing up, I watched my Dad work three to four jobs at a time, while my Mom was working part-time jobs as well and raising us. We were expected to pitch in. As a kid, I worked at our local bakery and worked for an office cleaning service. My parents led by example and taught us that hard work matters and no one is above getting their hands dirty.
Q: Fast forward and you’re now leading the Advanced Performance Materials (APM) business, what’s your leadership style?
A: I’m fortunate to have had an incredibly diverse career in the industry. From operations to technical to leadership, I’ve had the opportunity to really get my feet wet and gain a 360-degree perspective on the business. This experience has given me great perspective that has enabled me to better relate to team members across every level of our business, and it has taught me that in order to be an effective leader, it is imperative to be inclusive. I love having the opportunity to work with all of the talented people in our organization. Tapping into their expertise and pulling the pieces together is my favorite part of my job.
Q: What excites you about what lies ahead for Advanced Performance Materials?
A: What excites me most about the present and the future of APM segment is the connectivity of our solutions and the important role our products play in so many emerging technologies. Our world is changing, technology is evolving faster than ever, and the secular growth trends are truly undeniable. Our fluoropolymers are critical components to 5G, renewable energy, and electric vehicles. The opportunity to work with our customers to make these technologies not only possible, but widely available is incredibly exciting to me.
Q: Why Chemours?
A: I was actually around when Chemours was spun-off as an independent company. I’ve had the unique opportunity to witness a very cool cultural change, which seemed to happen overnight. The transparency, approachability, and values-driven approach our leadership team took from the start to help shape the company was such a natural fit for me and I was very excited to be part of something new. I’m a very direct person and like to address both challenges and opportunities head on, so I saw this as a unique chance to be part of something great. I watched commitments be followed by actions and progress, and I thought, “okay this is going to work”. To this day I’m proud and humbled to be part of this company.
Q: What’s one thing people might not know about you?
A: I’m incredibly passionate about women’s empowerment and, as part of this, helping to prepare women for success in the workforce. Over my career, I have been amazed to see how many antiquated ideas about the role of women in society persist. My four daughters serve as my inspiration to help change this paradigm. I want them to be educated, informed, and fearless in their ambitions, and to serve as champions for others fighting the same battles.
Denise Dignam, president of Advanced Performance Materials, brings over 30-years of chemical industry experience to her position and has proven leadership across multiple areas including significant experience in commercialization, sales and marketing, strategy, supply chain, and operations.
Denise previously led the restructuring of manufacturing as Vice President, Fluoroproducts Operations, and served as North American business leader for fluoropolymers and global business leader for Nafion™ and Krytox™ portfolios. A chemical engineer by training, she holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.