People and Leaders

Who Will Be the Person of the Year 2019?

Who deserves to be called Person of the Year 2019? Who was the best and outperformed his or her peers? Who was the champion and deserves to win the title? Here are the final candidates for the award.

This year’s harvest is incredibly good and the competition is very high. All these bright and successful CEOs deserve an award and an oscar for their performances. These are the real champions of the bioplastics industry. However, one of them deserves the title as he or she outperformed the others. Do you guess who it is? In the meantime, here are the final candidates.

Solvay CEO – Ilham Kadri

Ilham came in as a meteorite. She’s half French, half Moroccan and the first woman to lead Solvay. What a disruption, especially for la Belgique à papa (old school Belgium). She’s dynamic and charismatic and has the potential to make a difference.

Ilham has created a momentum and given unprecedented visibility and dynamism to Solvay. She’s a modern leader who knows how to charm her audiences and score.

Ilham’s main challenges will be to start walking the path of business strategy soon and transform her Belgian HQ into a competitive organisation.

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new ceo solvay
Solvay CEO – Ilham Kadri

Avantium  CEO – Tom van Aken

Tom van Aken is a pioneer and a legend. He’s the first bioplastics CEO to master the rules of public relations. He’s a natural born talent and what PR departments refer to as “a Golden Boy”.

Tom showed us how CEOs should mingle around like butterflies. He designed the blueprint of the modern Chemical CEO and was the first Prince of the Bioplastics Industry.

Tom orchestrated a successful IPO on Euronext Amsterdam and Brussels and managed to raise € 119 million. He almost disrupted the chemical industry with Synvina and PEF. It was too good to be true. And then what happened ? Martin aka Schwarzenegger happened. It went very fast. Martin kicked him off his throne and showed us who the king was. And so came an end to Tom’s reign.

Tom’s challenges will be to develop Avantium Renewable Polymers into a successful company and to create a market for PEF. Let’s not forget that the Dutch are not the be best tacticians either.

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Avantium  CEO – Tom van Aken

BASF CEO – Martin Brudemüller

Martin, more commonly referred to as “Schwarzenegger” or “the Godfather”, is the king of Bioplastics. Martin doesn’t loose any time with foreplay and goes straight to the point. There are no problems or obstacles in Martin’s world. He’s a man who can take standpoints and decisions, and will not shy away from his responsibilities.

Martin is what PR departments refer to as “an accident waiting to happen”. He’s an hyperactive with a tendency to micromanage. However, Martin could probably run BASF all by himself.

We felt it when he took office and knew that a period of austerity had arrived for the bioplastics industry. It started with a round of waterboarding, followed by a session of … let me shove chemcycling down your throat. Eventually, he gave the last rites to Tom van Aken (Synvina) before single-handedly dragging him to the scaffold. Martin showed us who the sheriff was in town.

Unexpected salvation came in the form of the plastic waste crisis. Martin suddenly understood that bioplastics was needed as a viable option to the crisis. Someone probably reminded him that somewhere, somehow, sometime ago it was BASF who developed biodegradation technology.

Martin is not a people manager but he has a vision and skills … which makes him a potential captain of industry.

His challenges will be to avoid micro managing and to modernise BASF. Martin will have to learn how to let go.

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Martin Brudermuller, CEO BASF
Martin Brudermuller, CEO BASF

Tipa CEO – Daphna Nissenbaum

Daphna can be proud of herself. She has achieved many successes in a short period of time. She’s determined and seems to be very business wise.

She managed to get Google as a customer and to be recognised as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Not many people have been successful like her.

She’s a raising star and her achievements are remarkable. She has the huge advantage that she’s done it by herself. She’s not sitting in an ivory tower, but she’s there with her colleagues on the field. What a woman!

Her challenges will be to set her priorities and grow from tribal to cosmopolitan.

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Daphna Nissenbaum
TIPA CEO – Daphna Nissenbaum

Bio-on CEO – Marco Astorri

Who doesn’t know about Marco and Bio-on by now must have been living in a cave.

Marco’s achievements are remarkable. He’s been acting like a captain of industry by building Bio-on from scratch. The latest judicial developments may give us another point-of-view, but until then … every man and women is innocent until proven otherwise.

There may be an inherent conflict between how visionaries act and the legal obligations laid upon public companies. Was it wise to list the company on the stock market if you’re going to run it like a startup?

Making the accounts look better than they actually are? Isn’t that the story of mankind? Isn’t that the business model of the big four accounting firms? Isn’t that marketing? Isn’t that why people use perfume, make up and nice clothes? Isn’t that why we develop nice packaging?

People lost money on the stock market? Isn’t that an inherent risk of speculation? Aren’t stock markets run by trading softwares, hedge funds and financial options, … algorithms managing speculative instruments, based on fictive resources, spiced up with a splash of greed?

The future will tell us more about Marco, but there’s one thing we can say … Marco brought flamboyance to the industry and he paved the way for PHA.

His challenges will be to demonstrate his innocence; or to ask for forgiveness followed by concrete actions in case of a different verdict.

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Marco Astorri, CEO Bio-on
Marco Astorri, Bio-On CEO

Polymedia Publisher – Michael Thielen 

Michael organises the world’s best bioplastics conferences and has kept the bioplastics show running all these years. Where would the industry be without Michael? Where would the German bioplastics industry be without Michael?

Michael’s events are always a great success. What’s his recipe? Perfect organisation, great customer service, the best programs, the best venues, interesting speakers, the most important awards of the industry and the best social events. Michael has it all!

Michael is the first to arrive and the last to leave during the conferences and has a solution to every problem. He makes other events organisers look like amateurs!

Michael is passionate about what he’s doing and he’s able to share that passion with others. We’ve learned to discover and appreciate Germany and the German sense of humour thanks to Michael.

We owe Michael for all the efforts invested in keeping the bioplastics industry afloat during all these years without taking credit for it. Michael is truly part of the furniture of the bioplastics industry!

Michael Thielen
Michael Thielen

Neste CEO – Peter Vanacker

What a year it has been for Peter! Peter became CEO at the end of 2018 and he has been on every front since then. Neste is in ebullition and they seem to have the right man at the right place at the right moment.

His challenges will be to kick start Neste’s bioplastics business activities and create a market for BIO-PP.

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peter vanacker ceo neste
Neste CEO – Peter Vanacker

Lactips CEO – Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff

Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff is another rising star of the bioplastics industry. She’s a self-made woman with a big hart. She managed to grow a potential unicorn and get BASF on-board.

Her main challenges will be to develop her communications and marketing and to overcome the French complex that France is the centre of the world.

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Lactips CEO – Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff

CEO Mitsubishi Chemical – Masayuki Waga

Masayuki Waga should be acknowledged for coming down the Japanese ivory tower and allowing disruption of the traditional Japanese communication model. Masayuki has been able to bring or allow motion into Mitsubishi Chemical in a very short period of time to a point where Mitsubishi Chemical has become better in marketing and communications than many American companies.

Knowing the cultural obstacles and differences, Mr. Waga has, to some extend, allowed the modernisation of the company’s communication style. Mitsubishi has also showed the example to other Japanese chemical companies.

His challenges will be to overcome cultural obstacles in management styles between Japanese and westerners. His duty will be to set culture aside and make the best choices for the company.

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Mitsubishi Chemical CEO – Masayuki Waga

DOW CEO – Jim Fitterling

Jim is one of the first CEO to come out of his ivory tower and speak in public about the problems and solutions of plastic in the context of a plastic waste crisis. He was courageous and took a standpoint on the subject. That’s what is expected from a CEO.

What’s happening to Dow right now? First a merger with Dupont, then a dissolution. First selling their biomaterials unit, then forming a joint venture with UPM to produce bioplastics. This is restructuring and modernisation of Dow and Dupont at the same time. What a bright move! When some Chemical companies don’t even realise they have to restructure, the Americans have almost gone through the process.

Fitterling’s main challenges will be to bring some clarity in what is happening to Dow right now. It’s time to launch a communications campaign to tell us what time it is and where’ they’re going.

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DOW CEO – Jim Fitterling

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