Cindy Deekitwong is the Global Head of Marketing, Materials-3D Printing in the Adhesive Technologies business unit at Henkel. She has covered the globe working in many locations for Henkel over the last 18 years. Cindy recently relocated back to Henkel’s U.S. headquarters in Rocky Hill, CT to take on the leadership role in marketing and strategy supporting new business development. Her primary objective is to grow new revenue and gain market share for the company‘s 3D printing division.
Cindy is an inclusive leader with a successful track record of developing business strategies and processes, with an emphasis on operational excellence. With a strong engineering background which includes a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma, she is especially effective in linking corporate technology and business strategies to supplier/partner capabilities and driving programs to successful completion. Cindy has strong experience in Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing as well as the electronics market, supply chain, operations, key account management and program management of strategic initiatives.
Cindy, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
My early education was heavily focused on STEM. I earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Burapha University in Thailand. Later, I supplemented it with more business-oriented coursework, earning an Executive degree in Supply Chain Management from MIT.
I came to Henkel 18 years ago as part of an acquisition. Initially I worked as a Technical Sales Engineer in Thailand. In 2003 I relocated to the USA and was responsible for developing and managing key strategic and critical suppliers. In 2008 I became the Global Supplier Development Manager for our Electronics division. In 2015 I took an international assignment in Japan and became our Head of Purchasing there. In 2018, I was promoted again, moving back to our US headquarters in Rocky Hill, CT where I assumed a leadership role in marketing and strategy, supporting business development in our new 3D Printing team.
While we’re a small, intrapreneurial team within Henkel, we’re growing quickly. It’s a great time to be in additive manufacturing and I’m excited to help our team become a driving force in the industry.
Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing?
Formnext 2018 was my first real opportunity to get a comprehensive view of the size and scale of the 3D printing business. Walking out of that show, I felt confident that we would play an important role in the technology’s adoption and growth. It’s now a little over a year later, and we’re further down that path, offering revolutionary materials that enable our customers to utilize additive manufacturing at a true production scale.
You are the Global Head of Marketing, Material – 3D Printing, Henkel Corporation. Why did Henkel, a chemical company, decided to join the Additive Manufacturing industry and what value do you see it bringing to this industry?
While 3D printing technology is over 30 years old, the market is still very immature. We knew that materials would play a key role in helping the industry to evolve beyond prototyping and into final parts production. Henkel is one of the world’s top materials science companies and has the industrial know-how required to unlock the potential with many different end-use applications. For us, that’s strategic.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
We’re still pretty early in the game, but right now I’d say it’s our collaboration with big players across the ecosystem. Henkel is working with equipment providers and end users to develop some very unique use cases. We’re focused on a common goal, which is to drive the adoption of additive technology, allowing it to complement and compete with other traditional manufacturing methods like injection molding.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
I’ve had the opportunity to travel, work and live in many different places. I’ve been exposed to many different cultures. Each have their own different quirks, but there’s also a lot of common ground, especially when it comes to business. Regardless of where they’re located, our customers are striving to compete and win, and we’re committed to helping them achieve their goals.
Have you run into any challenges from being a female engineer in 3D Printing?
Historically, the workforces at most industrial chemical companies were predominantly male. While that’s changing, I’m proud to work for a company that’s leading the way with its longstanding commitment to diversity. It’s a driving principle for Henkel. Overall and within our 3D Printing team specifically, many women are in leadership positions and are well represented throughout the organization.
But beyond Henkel, I think it’s the perfect time to be a female working in the 3D printing industry. More women are entering the business and they’re making a serious impact. We’re also learning from one another and with groups like Women in 3D Printing, helping each other grow.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
It’s hard to argue the impact 3D printing has had in the medical market. There have been so many impressive advancements from hearing aids to prosthetics and orthotics, among several others. But one I see as highly impactful are educational (anatomical) models. They have the potential to be a game-changer in the healthcare industry. When doctors have the ability to work with a model prior to a procedure, they can operate more accurately and quickly, which improves patient outcomes, while simultaneously reducing cost. It’s an area where additive manufacturing has the potential to be lifesaving.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
When it comes to additive manufacturing, I don’t really think any one technology is a panacea. Each has its strengths and opportunities. But with any use case, it takes an ecosystem of hardware, materials, and other resources. It’s difficult to make that happen in a vacuum. At Henkel we’ve introduced an Open Materials platform to help foster collaboration with printer manufacturers and end users. I strongly believe this type of collaboration is the way forward, helping additive address customer needs and fully deliver on its value proposition.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:
- As an engineer?
For 3D printing to really commercialize, it has to evolve from a craft business to a large-scale industry that can support real-world applications at scale. Henkel’s revolutionary materials are helping to make that vision a reality. From an engineering perspective, that’s very gratifying.
- As a woman?
Having worked in many different functions, including sales, operations and supply chain, I can say with some authority that best-of-breed companies seek diversity both from themselves and their business partners. Over my career, the contributions of women have been valued and appreciated by my suppliers and customers alike. I’m working with many other women at Henkel – and in the 3D Printing business unit specifically – to accomplish some very lofty goals. Diversity works, and we’re proving it.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
As I mentioned previously, the big shift for the industry is to move beyond prototyping and into production. Materials are vital to that evolution. Henkel’s portfolio will enable many high-performance applications that weren’t possible before, including parts that meet the stringent standards of the aerospace and automotive industries, high durability products for consumer products like footwear, and tooling, jigs and guides for general manufacturing.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
The 3D printing market is growing rapidly, by as much as 25% yearly in some sectors. Meeting the sizeable demand requires an influx of highly skilled talent from a variety of disciplines including science, engineering, information technology, sales and marketing, among others. The industry wants and needs more diversity. Women can play a vital role throughout the value chain, from product development to distribution and beyond. They need to know that this an environment where their talents can be recognized and rewarded.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)?
Henkel’s portfolio of 3D printable resins, of course.
Favorite moment in your day job?
At Henkel we like to refer to breakthroughs or epiphanies as “Loctite moments.” Mine happens when I help customers solve problems and expand the use cases for 3D printing, one application at the time!
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years?
I’d obviously like to see the industry continue to expand and become even more diverse. But on a more personal basis, I’m looking forward to helping more customers learn how valuable 3D printing can be in solving their business problems. It’s a journey that typically starts with validating an initial use case and then watching as they become more confident in the technology’s ability to exceed their requirements. At Henkel, we enjoy being part of their success. Just like with our people, we’ll continue to expand the diversity of our solutions, helping more companies achieve their goals with additive manufacturing.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview?
Karla Witte (Co-Founder at Molecule, which was recently acquired by Henkel)