During the last one and a half years Separation Products has undergone some important changes, as Domingo Sanchez, one of the founders of the group, has retired as General Manager.
Domingo is now replaced by Sylvia Winkel Pettersson, who has been working in the Kromasil group since 1999 in different positions. Sylvia hence has a strong background and experiences to support her as Separation Products' new General Manager.
As he now enters retirement, Domingo Sanchez, General Manager for Separation Products, can look back on an exciting period.
"A few years ago, I was one of a small group of researchers at Eka Chemicals who developed an entirely new concept for pharmaceutical purification, using industrial chromatography. Today Kromasil is a world leader," he explains.
In 1986, a small project was initiated within Eka Chemicals with the assignment of identifying additional areas of use for the silica sols produced by the company. At that time, Domingo Sanchez was the manager of research and development within the Organic Intermediates division.
"The idea for Kromasil did not come only from me. I was part of a group and had taken my PhD in organic chemistry, and had worked with pharmaceutical compounds. For that reason, I was well acquainted with separation methods."
The small project developed the first prototype as early as in 1987, securing its first customer in 1988. Since then, you could say the success story has gathered pace.
"We didn't just launch a new product, but an entirely new concept for helping pharmaceutical companies cut their costs for purifying their drugs," Domingo explains.
Those who work in the industry are aware that purification is extremely important, and that it could account for as much as half of the overall production cost.
There is no shortage of competing products. So why did Kromasil become the number one product for the purification of insulin, and among the leaders in other areas of pharmaceutical purification?
"Our concept wasn't just a theory," says Domingo. "From the outset, when we presented it at an international symposium in 1990, we had allowed experts to test it to ascertain that it lived up to our promises – and they were very positive."
The customers, who are today found all over the world, discovered that they could use Kromasil to purify compounds that had hitherto defied purification – and at less cost.
"With our concept, customers can limit other costs associated with purification – costs for solvents, troubleshooting and investments. We develop different solutions for different types of pharmaceuticals and for individual customers."
There is no mistaking Domingo Sanchez's great commitment to Kromasil.
"It has been very exciting and I have never grown tired of my job. Kromasil has been like a child of mine. Previously I worked with Nobel Prize winner Arvid Carlsson at Gothenburg University – that was when I became interested in pharmaceuticals."
Over the years, the Kromasil concept has developed as new types of pharmaceuticals have been introduced. Besides being General Manager, Domingo has also played an important role in marketing to numerous customers and markets.
There has always been support from Eka Chemicals' management. However, Domingo reveals that the management team was initially a little hesitant when the Kromasil project wanted to enter the Indian and Chinese markets.
"But they gave us the green light and that turned out to be a good decision," he says, adding:
"Over the years both Kromasil and I have attracted many customers. Many of them are personal friends and I hope that can continue to be the case."
When Domingo retired from his position in April last year, he was replaced by Martin Westerlund, who already after only just over one year left Separation Products for a new job within AkzoNobel Engineering.
Martin was in June this year replaced by Sylvia Winkel Pettersson, who has been working in the Kromasil group since 1999 in different positions. Sylvia hence has a strong background and experiences to support her as Separation Products’ new General Manager.
"Actually, you could say that I've been schooled for the role through my 11 years of collaboration with Domingo Sanchez. He was the one who employed me and I have held several positions within Separation Products in parallel," she explains.
Sylvia Winkel Pettersson grew up in Switzerland but moved to Sweden after meeting her Swedish husband when both were working at EPFL in Lausanne. Within Separation Products, she has in addition to her main responsibility worked with aspects such as quality control and she has been sales manager for France.
"In recent years, my main area of responsibility has been product and application development for Kromasil. In a structure the size of ours, we don't have an individual manager for each area. For me, working this way has helped me develop a lot," she says.
Her first job, when she joined the company in 1999 was as an applications engineer.
"I developed methods that allowed customers to use our products with optimum efficiency. Since then, I have had continuous opportunities to work closely with customers – and that's something I really enjoy."
As the new General Manager, Sylvia Winkel Pettersson first intends to become acquainted with the areas with which she is less familiar. She then wants to continue to drive the development of the product portfolio, the team and of its close collaboration with customers.
"I will also continue to work to strengthen our presence in China and India, since these are areas of strategic importance for our growth," she says.
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