30 July 2020
First Solar’s COO Tymen deJong to retire
First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA – which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services – says that chief operating officer (COO) Philip Tymen deJong has decided to retire from the company, effective April 2021. In addition, First Solar has announced a series of senior leadership changes.
deJong’s career spans over four decades, with ten years of service to First Solar, five of which includes his tenure as COO. He played a fundamental role in establishing the firm’s international Series 6 module manufacturing footprint, with five announced factories currently in production, and a sixth on track to begin production during first-quarter 2021.
deJong will continue to serve as COO for an eight-month transition period, during which he will oversee certain priority projects, while transitioning most of his responsibilities to chief manufacturing operations officer Michael Koralewski, chief manufacturing engineering officer Kuntal Kumar Verma, and chief quality & reliability officer Patrick Buehler, each of whom will join First Solar’s executive leadership team.
“After a decade of stewardship of our manufacturing, supply chain and enterprise-wide operations, Tymen’s retirement is well earned,” comments CEO Mark Widmar. “He will continue to serve the company on several key initiatives until his retirement.”
Koralewski provides nearly 15 years of global operational experience to the executive leadership team. As chief manufacturing operations officer, he is responsible for First Solar’s site operations and supply chain management. He joined First Solar in 2006 and has held progressively more senior roles in operations and quality management with global responsibility, including VP – global quality, VP – site operations (global) and plant manager, and senior VP – global manufacturing.
Since joining First Solar more than 15 years ago, Verma has been instrumental in scaling up First Solar’s manufacturing capabilities, including the first- and second-generation CdTe manufacturing lines. As chief manufacturing engineering officer, he is responsible for global manufacturing replication and performance. Previously, Verma held a variety of engineering roles, including as VP – global manufacturing engineering, director – manufacturing engineering, and engineering manager – deposition.
Buehler brings over a decade of experience in quality and reliability to the executive leadership team. As chief quality & reliability officer, he is responsible for global manufacturing quality, product reliability, performance and prediction analytics, customer service, sustainability, and environmental, health & safety. He joined First Solar in 2006 and has held progressively more senior technical and operations roles in quality & reliability, including serving as VP – quality & reliability since March 2019.
“With Series 6 deployed, and a strong team in place to carry it forward, I am confident that the timing is right for me to retire with the business in good hands,” says deJong. “I am working closely with Mike, Kuntal and Pat to effect a seamless transition.”
First Solar also says that Markus Gloeckler has been appointed co-chief technology officer alongside Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s chief technology officer since 2012, as part of First Solar’s new co-CTO structure. Gloeckler will join First Solar’s executive leadership team.
“Moving to a co-CTO structure will enhance our platform for growth and aligns with our vision to excel in technology,” says Widmar. “As co-CTOs, Markus will continue to drive our Series 6 platform, enabling Raffi to focus on advanced R&D and further pursue the capabilities of our industry-leading cadmium telluride thin-film module technology.”
Gloeckler has extensive experience guiding strategic R&D activities. Prior to being named co-chief technology officer, he served as VP – chief scientist, before being promoted to senior VP – module R&D. He was instrumental in enabling First Solar’s achievement of a record conversion efficiency for a CdTe solar cell.
In addition, First Solar says that Jason Dymbort will join its executive leadership team as general counsel & secretary after serving in this capacity on an interim basis since March. During his time at First Solar, which began in 2008, he has held numerous legal roles, helping to grow the firm’s internal legal capabilities in support of a broad range of subject matter areas. Between 2015 and 2018, Dymbort served as general counsel & secretary for the general partner of 8point3 Energy Partners (then a publicly traded yieldco and affiliate of First Solar). Before joining First Solar, he was a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.
The additions to the executive leadership team will “better align our manufacturing, technical, and commercial capabilities, and set the company up for continued growth,” believes chief people & communications officer Caroline Stockdale.