XCELIS™ CHAMPION: Rachel Leong, Regional Industry Leader, Grain Processing – Asia-Pacific
Rachel Leong got to know the cornfields of the American Midwest while earning dual degrees in chemical engineering and economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But when she returned to her home country of Singapore to join DuPont’s Asia-Pacific Grain Processing group, she found a more complicated fermentation ethanol industry—and a diverse set of challenges.
“Every country is very different,” she explains. “Ethanol producers don’t just use corn as a substrate—they use rice, cassava, wheat, and sorghum, for example. So how a product works, and how we can apply it to give maximum value to each producer, is very different.”
That means learning the ins and outs of each customer’s specific processes is critical. She and her team need to work with them to determine how their plant is really performing: assessing their process, measuring key performance indicators, identifying areas to target for improvement, and finding out where they want their business to be in the future.
In addition, every producer has a different focus at a point in time, so she relies on her team to provide the right support at the right time. For example, application development to provide technical training on analytical methods; technical service to troubleshoot issues on-site; and global experts to bring news of the latest innovations from the U.S.
"What drives me is really understanding what’s happening at our customers’ plants and being able to bring a new solution to market quickly that makes a difference for them."
Sometimes, she and her team need to be detectives. “One of our customers was struggling with their performance,” she recalls. “When we went in to assess their plant, we realized there was nothing wrong with their process; their analytical equipment was faulty instead. So we helped them address the issue and stabilize the measurements.”
Leong has also combined her deep local knowledge with DuPont’s global resources to create the XCELIS™ Ethanol Performance Program, which will send her team to producers throughout the region to do a baseline assessment, look for opportunities for improvement, and create a path for their development. And beyond that face-to-face interaction, she also wants to bring them a platform for up-to-date information and interaction with DuPont experts. Making that kind of direct impact is what motivates her, every day.
"What drives me is really understanding what’s happening at our customers’ plants, and being able to bring a new solution to market quickly that makes a difference for them," she notes. “Customers don’t just want to be given a product; they want us to help them grow and develop.”