The Brains of Nynas: Elena Minchak

Elena is Research Manager at Nynas Naphthenics, responsible for planning and performing research activities to increase knowledge in areas of strategic importance for Nynas. Find out what's on her mind.

Elena Minchak

After completing an M.Sc. degree in Chemical Technology and Biotechnology from D. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology inMoscow, Elena Minchak moved to Finland to learn about renewable energy resources. She continued her studies at the laboratory of Industrial Chemistry and Reaction Engineering and got a Ph.D. degree from Åbo Akademi University. Elena joined Nynas as a Research Manager in August 2017 and is responsible for planning and performing research activities to increase knowledge in areas of strategic importance for Nynas Business.


The main product of the research department is knowledge that forms the basis for future decisions. The fundamental knowledge of chemistry and physics of oils are needed not only for future product design, but also for the development of new feedstock processing solutions. My main role is to identify strategic research priorities and objectives and to formulate the long-term research strategy.


Sustainable development would not be possible without research. This means keeping up-to-date with what’s new in the field, having a good overview of emerging technologies and potential biobased or circular alternatives to our base oils. Without fundamental research, our industry can never adapt to the vital changes needed in society. Nynas actively supports and engages in several research initiatives together with different partners.


Given the complexity of oils, it is often beneficial to network actively with researchers with expert knowledge in different areas and to collaborate on projects of overlapping interest. Collaborations broaden access to a greater number of analysis techniques, foster new ideas and often bring new perspectives to projects. Moreover, the production of small M.Sc. theses at universities results in industry-oriented research and attracts new talents!


While working with highly experienced professionals, coaching skills are extremely important. At Nynas we are encouraged to master different coaching techniques to unlock people’s potential and nourish further competence development. I am just at the beginning of this journey, but it feels incredible to watch people getting new inspiration.


Finnish and Swedish languages became very close to my heart, as my kids have been born here in the Nordics. Developing local language skills is crucial for embracing cultural differences and understanding traditions. I recharge quickly by spending time with the family outdoors in the beautiful nature of Nynäshamn, especially along the coastline. Due to the pandemic, I was only able to connect with my big family back home online, but luckily you never feel alone at Nynas!


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