As the head of Technical Development Asia Pacific for BASF in Singapore, alumna Sindhu Easwara Menon leads the technical service and application development teams for plastics applications.
“I love leading teams and working with people in creating products and bringing it to the market,” Menon (PhD, Leckband, ’09) said.
She also chairs her company’s "Women in Business" employee resource group that serves as a support system for women joining the company.
“The intent is also to support the company to attract and retain talented women so that the leadership pipeline is strengthened,” Menon said. “I believe diversity and inclusion is a very huge part of the higher education experience. It brings the best minds from all the parts of the world to the same place and becomes the incubation center for new ideas. US is a great place in this regard.”
Originally from India, Kerala state, Alappuzha, Menon said she was looking for a good school in the United States to complete her doctorate, and the U of I was ranked in the top 10 and had a strong physical chemistry department.
“Apart from the chemistry and material knowledge, the analytical skills, entrepreneurial spirit and mentoring students at the U of I have helped me to lead innovation activities and lead teams successfully,” Menon said.
But she did face challenges adjusting to her new life as a graduate student far from home.
“Despite being able to speak English fluently, it was a struggle in the beginning to build connections and make friends. But with time I adapted and made many friends and acquaintances which led to a very pleasant and enjoyable five and a half years,” she said.
Her advice to current international students in the Department of Chemistry is to seize the opportunities as they come.
“Only then will a person grow and develop further,” she said. “The U.S. education affords great training for international students to think outside the box and challenges them to be bold in their ideas. It has strengthened my fundamentals and made me very confident as I finished my Phd. This gave me confidence to take up challenges and come out successful.”
Menon said she misses quite a few things at the U of I.
“The entrepreneurial spirit, the novel ideas, the library, the beautiful campus that sprawls for miles, and last but not the least, the opportunities available for students to develop as they want,” said Menon, who enjoys in her spare time pursuing fitness activities, Dragon boat paddling, traveling and activities with Women in Business at BASF.