For the past decade, Shai Terem, ’10, has worked tirelessly to build something—figuratively and literally—that can help change the world. A veteran team leader and disruptive technology enthusiast, he’s endeavored to push both productivity and engineering boundaries since the earliest days of his career. Today, he’s putting his twin passions for motivating others and innovating new technologies to good use as president and CEO of additive manufacturing leader Markforged.
Markforged is helping groups including NASA, Google, and Siemens leverage industrial-grade 3D printers and cloud software ecosystems for printing same-day parts for mission-critical applications at the point of need, using both industry-standard and innovative new materials.
He considers it an ideal position. First, because he gets to lead and empower a very smart team, challenging them to reimagine the shape of numerous business verticals—a challenge he finds endlessly exciting, and that he truly believes will reshape the world of manufacturing.
“I’ve always liked helping teammates become part of bigger things and overcome challenges that they did not think they could rise to before,” Terem notes. “I love working with people to tackle objectives that feel impossible: it drives me, helps bring out the best in us, and inspires my team to be bold.”
He also gets to indulge his passion for innovation, working with partners in every sector to rethink how Markforged’s solutions can be used for an ever-growing range of industry applications.
“Additive manufacturing allows us to create things that we can personally see, feel, touch. And it has the power to do tremendous good in the world—from helping reduce carbon emissions to cutting down costs and logistics for many businesses,” says Terem. “The field has so much potential.”
“Additive manufacturing allows us to create things that we can personally see, feel, touch. And it has the power to do tremendous good in the world—from helping reduce carbon emissions to cutting down costs and logistics for many businesses.”
Embracing the Team
After nearly nine years of military service, rising to lieutenant commander in the Israeli Navy, Terem began his own journey of transformation by getting his BA in economics from Tel Aviv University in 2005. He moved to the United States in 2008 and attended Chicago Booth, where he picked up key insights and learnings that he applies to his work to this day.
“It was a phenomenal experience that offered an incredible quality of education,” says Terem. He focused heavily on finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship, taking a job at Morgan Stanley after graduation.
But Booth had impacted him in deeper ways as well.
“Coming from an environment where you had to be part of the best of the best, it was such a humbling experience to be paired with so many smart and unique people,” he says. He learned that finding success isn’t always about being the top performer—it’s about helping others and the organization to be the best they can be.
“It really taught me to listen more and ask more questions and be more willing to move into the passenger seat and let others drive,” says Terem, “because there were so many great and smart people around helping us drive to a greater destination together.”
It also helped underscore the importance of embracing diversity. The military was an organization full of people who had specific objectives and a singular mindset. But at Booth, he was exposed every day to individuals from different cultures, values, and expectations, from all over the world.
Markforged is a multinational business, and he’s constantly speaking and working with channel partners from Japan, Australia, Germany, Italy, and other countries. The time he spent being exposed to people of varying backgrounds and perspectives at Booth prepared him to take on such an international role, and made him feel much more comfortable in it.
Finding His Place
Terem’s path to the 3D-printing universe was no less long and winding than the field’s own rollercoaster-like history of market booms and busts. Two years after his stint in investment banking began, Terem was looking for a job where he could apply his talents to be part of something that could be influential on the world around us. This led to a run as director of corporate development for electric-vehicle startup Better Place.
He was then brought on as vice president of finance and operation, Americas for additive manufacturing firm Stratasys from 2014 to 2017, where he eventually headed up the successful turnaround of a $300 million topline back office of one of the industry leaders at the time, before moving into the role of president for the Americas for Kornit Digital.
There, he was essentially managing an organization doing 2D digital printing on textiles using water-based inks, which were better for the environment than standard plastisol inks. The organization also promoted fashion-on-demand and mass-customization for fabric decorations, reducing waste and lost inventories. It showed him firsthand the power of digital printing to do good for the planet and change lives.
It was from there that he made the move to Markforged in December 2019.
Since Terem joined, the company has grown its range of 3D-printer equipment and industrial-grade materials that are designed for engineering use in manufacturing environments. And the firm’s cloud-native A.I. 3D-printing platform, the Digital Forge, has continued to see success. The platform streamlines the work of the software, printer, and materials to seamlessly produce dependable parts and product results on demand.
“We’re helping customers overcome the challenge of global supply chains by minimizing logistics and allowing on-demand production,” he shares. “So instead of waiting on a part or having to plan inventory a year in advance, they can just create digital inventories and print when needed, which is much more agile, cost effective, and practical.”
In coming decades, Terem believes we’ll see more companies trying to print everything from food to prosthetic body parts. The global market for 3D printing is expected to quadruple and exceed $50 billion by 2030, per Lux Research, and continues to enjoy skyrocketing interest among firms in the aerospace, medical, and automotive industries, among others.
“In my view, additive manufacturing will continue to change our lives, and the technology will only continue to improve over coming years,” Terem says. “More and more of the things that we consume are going to be printed on demand and nearby.”
“What we’re really trying to do is not just put another digital printer out there. We’re trying to build the largest network of connected, remotely controlled digital factories.”
Sticking to the Basics
Terem’s spirit of consistently providing tangible value and service to others, and his ongoing determination to uplift the global industry community, are reflected in every facet of his work.
“I started in the service, where there’s a lot of mutual respect, accountability, and dependency on your colleagues. It’s not so much about you as an individual but what you can bring to an organization,” Terem says. “So even today, when it comes to my leadership approach, I start by focusing on the culture and core values that define the DNA of our organization.”
At Markforged, team members subscribe to six core values: “One Team” (teamwork and collaboration), “Own It” (accountability), “Don’t Stop Believin’,” customer obsession, innovation, and doing your best.
The core values aren’t just for show. Terem puts in the work, trying to understand customer needs, staying on top of changing industry trends, and exposing himself to fresh influences, opinions, and insights. He surrounds himself with people who will do the same—coworkers who will appreciate each other’s talents and viewpoints and focus on finding clever, cost-efficient solutions to future-focused challenges.
This line of thinking is reflected in the company’s client-focused approach to business development and R&D. It’s also mirrored in the Digital Forge platform itself, which leverages a constant stream of information and insights from customers to help fuel more data-driven decision-making and forward-thinking innovations.
“What we’re really trying to do is not just put another digital printer out there,” Terem chuckles. “We’re trying to build the largest network of connected, remotely controlled digital factories.”
Given his no-nonsense approach to business, it’s not surprising that the advice Terem offers to other executive leaders is equally practical.
“In today’s fast-moving, unpredictable business world, it’s important to get back to basics,” he says. “This means that your business model should be strong, sustainable, and scalable; that you need to have access to the right information; and that you should tackle big challenges by breaking them into smaller bites.”
By following this advice and working with the people around you, Terem emphasizes, you can build a company like Markforged—an organization that’s much bigger than just the sum of its parts.