September 30, 2022 – Executive search, leadership consulting, and culture shaping services provider Heidrick & Struggles has recruited Fei Chen as the new chief executive officer of LiqTech International, a clean technology company that manufactures and markets highly specialized filtration technologies. Ms. Chen, who will start on or before Nov. 1, will also be a member of LiqTech’s board of directors. Alexander Buehler, a member of LiqTech’s board and currently interim CEO since March 2022, will resign as interim CEO when Ms. Chen starts her employment but will continue to serve as a member of the board.
“Fei brings to LiqTech a strong combination of developing and commercializing technology businesses, with an established track record in driving profitable revenue growth,” said Mark Vernon, chairman of the LiqTech board of directors. “We look forward to leveraging her wide business experience in water treatment and clean energy technologies as LiqTech advances to its next stage of commercial development.”
Ms. Chen brings more than 20 years of management experience across a variety of global industrial companies, with an emphasis on water treatment, chemicals, and clean energy technologies. After heading global R&D for Topsoe A/S, a specialist in catalysts and energy-efficient clean technologies, Ms. Chen was most recently SVP, global commercials (clean fuels and chemicals technology) for Topsoe A/S. Prior to that, she was innovation platform director for pump manufacturer Grundfos A/S, where she was responsible for establishing its water treatment division. She has also held management positions with Novozymes A/S, FOSS Analytical China, Lattec I/S, Coloplast A/S, and the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark. She is a member of the board at Liquid Wind AB and Jiangsu JiTRI-Topsoe Clean Energy Research and Development Co. Ltd, China, and was previously a member of the boards of Brunata International A/S and Enaqua.
“I am excited about coming to LiqTech at this important stage of the company’s development and am grateful for the board’s strong support,” said Ms. Chen. “My wide experience in technology businesses should enable us to quickly position the company for profitable growth. I look forward to working with the capable and dedicated people of LiqTech to achieve our goals.”
LiqTech International, a Nevada corporation, is a clean technology company that provides state-of-the-art ceramic silicon carbide filtration technologies for gas and liquid purification. LiqTech’s silicon carbide membranes are designed to be used in the most challenging water purification applications and its silicon carbide filters are used to control diesel exhaust soot emissions.
Heidrick & Struggles works closely with companies across the cleantech/sustainability spectrum that seek to define and achieve their own sustainability goals. The firm’s experience guiding boards and senior executives through organization-wide transformations helps Heidrick find and foster future-ready leaders who can authentically integrate sustainability initiatives that meet the rising expectations of stakeholders and of the companies themselves. The Chicago-headquartered recruiter is the fifth largest global firm as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media.
A Sea Change
Scott Atkinson, a managing partner at Heidrick & Struggles, pointed out that the cleantech/sustainability sector has been growing for some time. “Well before the Biden administration announced the details of their infrastructure plan and its ties to green and sustainable initiatives, we were witnessing growth all across the sector,” he said. “As companies were re-examining their own carbon footprints and seeking counsel from – and in many cases seeking to hire – sustainability experts, there was the sense that a sea of change was upon us.”
Over the last decade, clean technology, solar and electric energy, and sustainability have moved from the periphery to the center of the global economy. Established and emerging companies, along with private equity and venture capital firms, are making massive investments across the field as they stake out expanding areas of the market.
There has been increasing demand for chief sustainability officers across numerous industries, said Mr. Atkinson, but the pool of talented people in these roles is limited. And, he said, that demand at the C-suite and executive level will continue as the sector accelerates: “Existing chief sustainability officers will be part of this demand, but we also expect companies will look inward to fill this role,” he said. The chief sustainability officer position is so new within corporate America that the skills and requirements are unclear within many companies. “In turn, we are witnessing CEOs and boards fill the role with someone who has their trust and influence within the organization – as well as the agility to handle the dynamic nature of an evolving role,” said Mr. Atkinson.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media