Emerging Global Leadership Award

Xuemei (Myra) Zhai, Ph.D.


For cross-functional, people-focused leadership that drives business excellence; for strategically attracting and retaining diverse talent; and for career-long championing of women in technology.

Xuemei (Myra) Zhai, Ph.D., is the research and development (R&D)/technical service and development director for Dow Industrial Solutions (DIS) in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. She is responsible for driving innovation and business growth of the $1 billion DIS business in the region, including China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia, and Vietnam. Dr. Zhai and her team develop new applications and products and provide customer technical service to support and accelerate business growth in APAC. She also drives local solutions to become global platforms.

Dr. Zhai joined Dow in 2006 as a research specialist in corporate R&D and made critical contributions to the smooth launch of the R&D labs in Shanghai. She quickly became a group leader and then led several teams of APAC core R&D. She delivered a track record of technical and business excellence, and her responsibilities and team scope continued to expand.

Dr. Zhai has led chemical science, formulation science, and plastics R&D teams. Under her leadership, the teams have developed nearly 70 new product prototypes in coatings, adhesives, crop defense, electronics, cleaning, energy efficiency, transportation, and home and personal care. Many technologies have been recognized with R&D 100 and BIG Innovation awards from R&D World and Business Intelligence Group, respectively. She has made significant contributions at the individual and leadership level to Dow’s business growth and technology as well as to the development of the APAC R&D organization.

Dr. Zhai has actively sought ways to serve and grow as a role model and inclusive leader. She has completed more than 100 hours of classroom training in the International Coaching Federation’s accredited coach training program and achieved its highest level of certification. Dr. Zhai applies these coaching skills in her own work and in mentoring others.

As a woman senior technical leader, Dr. Zhai has championed and mentored women throughout her career. She is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers and is working to create a SWE affiliate in Shanghai. She is a scholarship program reviewer for both SWE and ABET.

Within Dow, Dr. Zhai is the the Shanghai Dow Center implementation leader and is engaged in Dow’s Women Innovation Network. She also supports the mental health and well-being of the Shanghai Dow Center community. Recognizing that children have encountered unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Zhai is deeply involved in educating the next generation. She has participated in community programs for primary and middle schools, and in 2021, she was certified in mental health first aid in Shanghai.

Dr. Zhai earned a B.S. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry and physics at Nankai University. She holds multiple patents; she is a certified Six Sigma black belt and has authored dozens of internal, proprietary, and peer-reviewed technical reports. As a central research paper approver and reviewer within Dow, Dr. Zhai has reviewed and approved hundreds of technical papers.

Outside work, she enjoys learning new things, practicing yoga, and making new friends.