Five Minutes With: John Williams, global business development, membranes, Lanxess Sybron Chemicals

Returning to the membrane industry ‘feels like a very comfortable transition’, says Lanxess new business development hire John Williams

What first attracted you into working in the water industry?

Getting into the water industry was a total accident. As a young chemical salesman in Dallas, Texas, looking for a new opportunity, I was fortunate to land my first job in the water industry with Culligan Industrial Sales. Since then, I have worked in all aspects of water from equipment to project construction to management, and the development of new technologies. I went from inorganic to organic to biological treatments. The industry is so broad that every day I go to work I learn something new, no matter how many years I’ve been in the business.

What gets you most excited about your new role?

Lanxess is a well-established company with a long history in ion exchange resins, and working with its membrane and resin professionals has been a pleasure. In this global development role, I want to assist the existing infrastructure to grow a thriving membrane business, by introducing disciplines that I have used in my past business experiences. I enjoy working with people, and domestic and international travel, and returning to the membrane industry feels like a very comfortable transition.

What recent innovations in membranes are most compelling to you?

Having been out of the membrane business for a few years, working in in the field of microbiology, I’ve been peering over the fence and watching developments in membrane technologies. Forward osmosis and high recovery reverse osmosis, such as Desalitech has developed, has been fascinating to follow. The diversity of membrane types and membrane processes will continue to drive this industry forward.

If you could change one thing about the water industry, what would it be?

I believe that we — and I’m referring to both manufacturers and fabricators of systems — should take a more active role in contributing to the numerous water causes that benefit the less fortunate. While we have issues in the developed countries, we sometimes miss the developing countries which, in many cases, are totally without potable water. My challenge to the water industry is to take an active role in contributing to providing fresh drinking water to those in need.