Allen, technical marketing specialist

Bringing boron and batteries together

Meet the multi-materials expert who is passionate about bridging the gap between technical expertise and customer needs

Last updated: 31 May 2024

Allen is an engineer and marketer who’s worked with Rio Tinto for more than 16 years, first as a vacation student and then a graduate. Born and raised in Guangzhou, China, Allen is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, and conversational in Japanese.

In his current role, Allen leads a team of experts in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as technical marketing manager for both borates and aluminium. He and his team support customers to address product needs, provide technical support, develop new products and cultivate new applications.

I’m passionate about connecting dots and bringing new prospectives and ideas.

Working at one company for more than 16 years has allowed me to build an invaluable network, with relationships that have lasted beyond job roles and organizational changes. But, I’m conscious there’s always a risk of becoming too entrenched in one way of thinking by working in one place for too long.

So I've always made an effort to stay open-minded and seek out learning new perspectives and applying them in my work. I just genuinely like learning new things.

In 2021, I noticed sporadic inquiries about using boron compounds in lithium-ion batteries. Despite small demand, I saw the growth potential for our boron business due to the expanding lithium battery industry. Recognising the pivotal role our technical marketing team could play, I dedicated myself to exploring this area further.

Taking the initiative, I conducted extensive literature research in my spare time. In 2022, this effort led to the publication of a SCIE-indexed paper in the esteemed journal Batteries. The review highlighted boron compounds' effectiveness in lithium batteries, emphasising their ability to improve battery performance and other key aspects. The paper gained traction, increasing awareness of boron compounds' potential in the lithium-ion battery sector.

Academic writing wasn't easy, especially with 2 energetic kids during COVID lockdowns. Yet, these papers are vital, linking technical expertise with customer needs.

Our Boron operation is part of our Battery Materials portfolio. Not only do boron products share the same operational assets as lithium products, but they also serve as vital yet often overlooked additives in lithium-ion batteries.

In 2023, collaborating closely with our Coudekerque operation in France and colleagues in Commercial, I was excited to contribute to the successful launch of U.S. Borax’s new battery-grade product, OPTIBOR® BQ. It meets the evolving needs of the lithium-ion battery value chain, reinforcing our commitment to customer satisfaction. We're also continuing to enhance OPTIBOR® BQ's value for cathode and anode makers.

In 2024, I worked with a team of colleagues to develop a pipeline of projects and industry partnerships that will further explore the potential of integrating more Rio Tinto products into lithium-ion batteries. It's a fascinating collective endeavour.

As the leader of a cross-product technical marketing team in APAC, I'm dedicated to forging connections across products, with customers, with sales, with research and development, and with broader business functions. I always remind myself to adopt a holistic approach, identifying value-added angles and projects that benefit both our customers and the business.

The best part of this job is the opportunity to keep learning and growing every day.

Related content


How is work changing?

Three new ways to look at the work of the future
Boron in solar energy

What is boron and how is it used in solar energy?

An essential material for a low-carbon future
Garry with his family on parental leave

Empowering families with flexibility

Supporting new parents of any gender with equal access to parental leave