Versatile. Adaptable. Ambitious. These are all words that come to mind when describing Allen Zheng, a U.S. Borax technical expert whose prowess for collaboration, entrepreneurship, and identifying cross-product opportunities has led to a successful career.
Now, Allen embraces a new challenge: Leading a team of experts in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as technical marketing manager for both borates and aluminium. In his new role, Allen will support customers—choosing the right product, addressing specification needs, and answering any technical questions.
This new role is one that’s especially suitable for someone with Allen’s background. And, he’s excited to jump in.
Excellence and experience
Allen has always been motivated, growth-oriented, and open to new challenges.
Born and raised in Guangzhou, China, Allen excelled in academics, especially chemistry and the science of materials. He earned two bachelor’s degrees in materials engineering—one from Wuhan University of Technology and the other from Monash University. He also has a Master of Commerce degree from the University of Queensland in Australia.
Beyond conventional studies, Allen is fluent in three languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. He also started to learn Japanese to enhance his working relationship with customers and end users in Japan (and partly out of nostalgia for pop songs and anime he enjoyed as a kid).
“I just genuinely like learning new things,” Allen says.
After university, Allen started his career at Rio Tinto working on the aluminium team as part of our summer internship program. Nearly 16 years later, he’s built a rich career across different Rio Tinto and U.S. Borax departments.
What’s led to Allen’s success? Diversified product and functional experience. Allen has worked in both technical and commercial capacities. He has extensive experience solving challenges across diverse functions—from operations to market development to core business functions, such as finance and strategy.
Customers and colleagues enjoy being around Allen because of his jovial personality and ability to empathize.
“Never underestimate the power of listening and perspective,” says Allen, who lives in Singapore with his wife and two kids. “Being able to understand different prospectives and have a holistic lens is key to finding solutions forward.”
The technology of material progress
Allen has a passion for materials science. In his words, “the development of human society tracks the development of materials.”
At Rio Tinto, Allen spent nine years specializing in products of aluminium, alumina, alumina hydrate and bauxite before transitioning to the U.S. Borax team.
The diversified applications and unique properties of borates have been keeping Allen busy exploring new market development opportunities, especially in the glass industry. It also inspired him to take a larger role in research.
Earlier this year, Allen’s article “Anhydrous Borates in Glassmaking” was published in leading industry magazine, Glass Worldwide. The article explores the value-in-use benefits of anhydrous borates in glass applications and helps glass producers understand what efficiency gains they can expect from anhydrous borates, including how to measure those gains.
In his opinion, research like this is important because it helps our teams prepare for technical conversations with customers.
Last year, Allen published a peer-reviewed research paper exploring boron compounds in lithium batteries and key benefits they impart such as improving cycling performance.
He also played an influential role in the launch of U.S. Borax’s new battery-grade product, Optibor® BQ, designed to help the lithium-ion battery value chain and better serve customer needs.
As we transition to a carbon-free future, Allen’s background makes him an excellent member of U.S. Borax’s market development team.
Leading the APAC team
The APAC market is a diversified one. While traditional sectors such as automotive, construction, packaging, and agriculture still comprise much of the demand for borates and aluminium, new applications are showing strong growth.
Going forward, Allen expects even more opportunities that will leverage his cross-product experience.
“I am a firm believer of a cross-product approach and how that brings value to our customers, to end users and to our business,” Allen says. “Having the opportunity to oversee technical marketing activities for two major products is an honor. I can’t wait to bring our cross-product collaboration to a new level.”