Member Spotlight: Phil Imbesi
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Phil Imbesi, Technical Service & Development Scientist for Dow in Philadelphia, PA. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Phil Imbesi is a Technical Service & Development Scientist for Building & Infrastructure within the Consumer Solutions business of Dow, Inc.
Previously in a Research & Development Scientist role, Imbesi was responsible for advancing new technologies for the construction industry, including cool-roof elastomeric roof coatings, viscosity-modifying agents for high-performance concrete, and additives for tile adhesives.
With an emphasis on innovative applications and solutions to enhance performance and productivity based upon building science fundamentals, Imbesi’s current role includes providing technical service and support to the design community, including façade system manufacturers, installers, architects, engineers and specialist consultants.
Imbesi’s specialties are building enclosure design development, air and weather barriers, waterproofing, structural glazing, and laboratory application development.
Phil has a Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus on polymer materials from Texas A&M University.
Name: Phil Imbesi
Title: Technical Service & Development Scientist
City: Philadelphia, PA
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in the building industry?
A: My path to my current role as both a project leader for innovation projects (including DOWSILTM DEFENDAIR 200C launched in 2019) and technical support for Dow’s commercial façade portfolio of products began in the laboratory. Following a PhD in organic polymer chemistry, I continued pursuing developing new products in an R&D role at Dow. It was my curiosity to work directly with customers and support/improve on our current products that led me to the TS&D role in Dow’s Building & Infrastructure business.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: We need to be developing solutions now for future problems. We need to be aligned with energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Communication and transportation, for example, are in the midst of paradigm shifts (self driving EVs, 5G and virtual communities); residential and commercial infrastructure will also benefit from the speed that the world grows (3D printing, smart materials).
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: Responsibility management was demonstrated to me with a simple mantra: never let a task hit your desk twice. I believe I am more efficient having studied under professors and project leaders that do not simply “push things around”; items are received, addressed and moved forward. I operate with a goal of never being the weak link.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Dow is passionate about being the world leaders in building façade technology that enables energy efficient buildings and efficient construction methods via the product end users. As the scientist responsible for Dow’s liquid applied air and weather barrier, I joined ABAA to learn from the overall community and also aid in Dow’s progress towards impacting the air barrier space.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: Not currently.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been adjacent to the construction materials market for 9 years, and specific to the air barrier product market for 4.
What major changes have you seen?
A: Building codes are aggressively changing. The bar for a construction project continues to be raised such that the infrastructure built today is more than just visually appealing.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: I challenged myself to build my skill set in places that aren’t traditionally prioritized. I found that the most effective employees and influencers aren’t the smartest; they are the best communicators, the most efficient task completers, and take the most unique approach to problem solving.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: To steal from Steve Jobs, think different. Many can do the next obvious step, many can make a product with the next incremental improvement. Disrupting technology that will have a real impact on the industry, and society at large, will only come if we can confidently take a different path than we’re on.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: Worldwide sustainability and environmental goals, both originating in governments and corporations, have resulted in the evergreen need for scientists and engineers in this field.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten year’s time?
A: I envision an industry that continues to push the envelope on building science. Materials will be better, design will be smarter, and construction will be more effective. It will be exciting to participate as a team member in this industry and see the collective efforts pay off in the infrastructure of tomorrow.