Firuza Mir has an impressive career trajectory that began in her native Mumbai, India, then led her to Canada and now the United States, where she is President and CEO of LANXESS Sybron Chemicals, the US unit of LANXESS’ Liquid Purification Technologies business unit. Cologne, Germany-based LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with annual sales of nearly $9 billion, 19,200 employees in 25 countries and 75 production sites worldwide.
Mir’s degrees are in marketing and finance, not science. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bombay in 1979 and an MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), India’s leading business school, in 1982. After a year of internship, Mir grew into leadership positions with increasing and diverse responsibilities. In 1995, she joined Bayer India and has been with the company or its subsidiaries until LANXESS was spun off from Bayer in 2005. During the three decades of her challenging global career, Mir has also married and raised two sons. That career came full circle in September 2017 when for the first time LANXESS participated in IFAT India, that country’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, refuse and recycling, held annually in her native Mumbai. The event showcases innovative water treatment solutions and allied technologies.
She describes herself as “a highly resourceful and qualified professional with solid management experience and a proven track record of success in optimizing business performance, contributing to the bottom line and streamlining operations.” One key attribute is vision. She’s adept at anticipating future trends, seeing the broader picture, conceptualizing and implementing innovative ideas and strategies necessary to improve efficiencies and successfully meet change. Mir muses, “I have been fortunate in that I have not had to face special challenges as a native of India or as a woman in business. I came to the western world, first Canada and then the US, as an expat and have been very well accepted by my colleagues. So neither being a woman nor being Indian has stood in my way or blocked my growth for success.”
In 2016, Mir gave the keynote address Water Treatment, Current and Future Trends at the International Elastomer Conference. A report in Rubber and Plastics News quoted Mir as saying: “By 2050, water demand will increase by 55 percent from today. By then, 884 million people will have no access to clean water and 2.8 billion will have no access to adequate sanitation. The world water market is worth nearly $900 billion annually. But the projected growth in the extreme need for water makes that a market even more crucial in human than in financial terms.”
Mir said: “People may not know LANXESS Sybron Chemicals but our products are well-known among water purification experts around the world. LANXESS offers four main products for water purification: LEWATIT® ion exchange systems, LEWABRANE® RO membranes, LEWA-PLUS® management software (which the company provides free to customers) and Bayoxide® iron oxide adsorbers. We are one of the world’s leading providers of premium ion exchange resins, iron oxide absorbers and RO membranes in the water treatment industry. Our products provide intelligent solutions to meet the challenges associated with the global water shortage.
“In order to shape our future and to master the challenges posed by factors such as increasing complexity, digitization and continual change, we place considerable emphasis on our personnel management on two significant forces: our values and diversity. We want to be a company whose success is determined by the personal commitment and performance of each individual employee. For us, diversity is about achieving the right combination of nationalities, cultures and life experience. It is that variety that enables us to examine our areas of activity from a number of different perspectives and to continually develop.”
The company is a global player with strong roots reaching as far back as 1863 (the year Bayer was founded) and combines that long tradition with the dynamism of a young organization established in early 2005. LANXESS emerged from the strategic realignment of the Bayer Groups chemical and plastics businesses. The US operating unit was acquired by Bayer in the late 1990s from Sybron Chemicals, which was the owner of IONAC, a manufacturer of ion exchange resins with operations in Birmingham, New Jersey from 1934.
LANXESS is strongly positioned as a provider of premium products for water treatment, liquid purification and recycling. Water purification is a ‘targeted megatrend’ for the company and its top executive. “LANXESS will continue to analyze, study and invest in water-related opportunities to support our strategic objectives. We will continue to focus on products and services related to advanced water treatment technologies. New technologies always have the potential to change the industry,” Mir said.