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[caption id="attachment_212145" align="aligncenter" width="950"] Chemours CEO & President Mark Newman. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CHEMOURS[/caption]
WILMINGTON —Mark Newman is no stranger to challenges. In fact, he embraces them.
Part of that lesson stems from his childhood spent on a Jamaican sugar cane and citrus farm. His grandfather used his life savings to start the farm, and Newman saw the farm and his family become integral to the community.“Farming by nature is about risk-taking, you don’t know what exactly will happen when you plant a crop. But the farm became tied to the local community not only as a source of employment, but also a social safety net,” Newman said. “My family came from humble beginnings, but they had built something of value.”It’s been a winding path for Newman to become the second president and CEO of Chemours. His father is Jamaican and his mother is Canadian, and he later finished high school in Quebec and finished an engineering degree from the University of Waterloo.
[caption id="attachment_225551" align="alignright" width="300"] Chemours CEO Mark Newman came to the DuPont spinoff after time at General Motors, SunCoke Energy and more. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
He was then hired at General Motors Corp. first as an engineer, and with the General Motors Fellowship program, he continued to rise through the company. After he earned his Masters in Business Administration, he joined the auto giant’s treasurer office in New York City. While there, Newman was named General Motors first operating chief financial officer for a joint-venture agreement with SAIC. He was in his mid-30s at the time.“I love decisions which require courage, and what was so fascinating about that opportunity was that General Motors were looking for people who were excited about bringing the automotive industry into the 21st century," he said. “It was a very formidable experience for me, working in a venture where you needed cultural sensitivity while making policies and strategy decisions.”Newman left General Motors in 2008, later taking on senior roles at Ally Financial and SunCoke Energy, a company that makes solid fuel coke used in steel manufacturing that spun out of Sunoco. He led SunCoke’s initial public offering in July 2011.So when he heard about the chance to join a rising spinoff from DuPont in 2014, he was ready for yet another challenge. DuPont’s legacy in the state has been marred by the production and production and disposal of poly and per-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), which was settled in 2021. Even more so, employees were nervous about the unknown future at a smaller company.“This was a much bigger entity, and I knew what would lie ahead. But with the right focus, I knew they could be overcome,” Newman said. “The main thing I think we had to do is look at DuPont as part of our legacy that we’re proud of. However, what we’re about at Chemours is the future.”Now in its sixth year, Chemours has 6,600 employees across the globe. More than half of those employees never worked at DuPont, he said.Newman worked alongside then-Chemours CEO Mark Vergnano, leading production of advanced performance materials, particularly in titanium dioxide from its headquarters in Wilmington. In 2021, Newman was named the second CEO of the company after Vergnano retired.
[caption id="attachment_227003" align="alignleft" width="300"] Newman was among the officials who cut the ribbon on the Center for Clean Hydrogen at the University of Delaware in 2022. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
Being the second leader of a rising global company gave Newman a sense of responsibility to continue building on the foundation Vergnano set. He likes to think of it as Chemours 2.0.“This is a chapter driven by innovation and by responsible manufacturing. This vision is creating a better world through chemistry,” he said. “I really want to learn how we can make this chemistry responsibly, and not only that - to be a leader in environmental signature as well.”Under his leadership, Newman and Chemours are doubling down on the hydrogen economy. Last October, the company announced it would invest $200 million to advance its Nafion ion membrane, not only in its production but in its application.Chemours is also investing in electric vehicles, specifically the batteries for higher density and range; Teflon PFA capabilities for semiconductors; and next-generation refrigerants for heat pumps.“When you think about Chemours, it’s products that help the world — and customers like you — be more sustainable, and how do we make them sustainably?” he said. “We do have a challenging legacy, but we have to write the narrative for our future.”