David Li worked for more than two decades for Cabot Microelectronics Corporation (CMC), a leading global supplier of specialty materials focused on advanced semiconductors and energy industries. Early on after joining the company, he was identified as a future executive and was placed in various leadership roles to assist CMC in becoming a publicly listed company and firmly establishing itself as an industry leader for semiconductor materials.
During his tenure, Li streamlined upper management, revamped the company’s culture, drove the acquisition of two companies, and positioned CMC as a top supplier to companies like Samsung, Intel and TSMC. As a result, during his 8-year tenure as CEO, Li was able to drive record financial, organizational, and shareholder performance. Before assuming CMC’s top spot, he was vice president of the company’s Asia Pacific Region for eight years and holds a sense of pride for leading cultural change within the company.
Li retired as president, CEO, and board member of CMC Materials in 2022 after the company accepted a friendly $6.5 billion buyout offer from Entegris Corporation, representing approximately a four-fold return to shareholders over Li’s eight-year term in this role. At the time of Li’s retirement, CMC reported a revenue of $1.2 billion, operating profit of more than 30 percent, and 2,000+ employees.
Now a permanent resident of Singapore, Li sits on the board of directors at Coorstek, an advanced ceramics technology company, and is a limited partner at Novotellus, a technology based private equity fund. He also serves on the portfolio committee of A*STAR, a Temasek-backed fund focused on helping the next generation of start-ups thrive in Singapore. At Purdue, he serves as a visiting scholar and guest lecturer to enhance students’ preparation for careers in semiconductor manufacturing and beyond. He was honored with Purdue’s Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award in 2017.
Li is the founder and chairman of the Li Family Charitable Foundation. In 2019, he and his wife, Sophia Li, provided a major gift for scholarships to the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering. In addition, Li provides guidance and mentoring for Asian American students at Purdue and other organizations and institutions who are interested in leadership and managerial careers in industry. Li is also working on a book project to share knowledge and wisdom from the most accomplished Asian American leaders to inspire the next generation.