Talented youngsters for a green future

Sustainability is also important for the recruitment of talented employees for Kuraray

Kuraray in Europe has a clear focus on the strategic integration and systematic implementation of sustainability goals. In October 2020, a special sustainability traineeship with a national and global focus was therefore created at our headquarters in Hattersheim, Germany.Trainee Franziska Vosen provides cross-functional support for colleagues at Kuraray in Europe who are working hard to pave the way for a greener future. Our innovative new approaches also help many of our customers achieve their own sustainability goals.

Even challenging times offer considerable scope for growth. In a world where finding sustainable solutions for the future is becoming more and more urgent, Kuraray addresses its responsibility as a global speciality chemicals company on a daily basis. Sustainability and environmental protection are key issues in the plastics and rubber industries – especially in Europe. Modern materials have to be produced sustainably and be biodegradable or recyclable. At the same time, they have to meet our customers’ high standards.

The Sustainability Initiative, which was launched nearly two years ago, is now part of Kuraray’s European Future Challenge transformation programme. The Sustainability Initiative brings together many good approaches Kuraray has been implementing for a number of years but which were not effectively networked in the past. As part of this initiative, our colleagues strive to find new and innovative ways of making Kuraray’s products and European sites more climate-friendly.

Giving tomorrow’s challenges a firm place in talent recruitment

For Kuraray in Europe, sustainability is not simply an obligation; it is also an opportunity to develop a successful long-term strategy for the future. Therefore, a sustainability traineeship was created in autumn 2020 to involve talented young people at any early stage and provide a holistic basis for progress in this field.

Franziska Vosen (22) joined Kuraray in Europe as a trainee in October 2020. With a degree in business studies, specializing in sustainability and marketing, she originally applied for an internship at Kuraray in Europe to gain practical experience to complement the theory she had learnt during her degree course. She had come across the Kuraray Group’s sustainable solutions while preparing an assignment on bioplastics, which drew her attention to Kuraray’s water-soluble and biodegradable MonoSol films. She was delighted that her request for an internship led to the establishment of a two-year traineeship with a global outlook – which shows how important sustainability is for Kuraray. “In the coming years, I can apply my knowledge of economics and my experience in environmental protection and climate-friendly activities – internationally,” reports Franziska Vosen.

Europe as a pioneer in environmental and climate protection

Kuraray already has many global sustainability-oriented activities, but Europe is increasingly taking on a pioneering role. Sustainability has been part of Kuraray’s mission and identity since it was founded in 1926. However, the portfolio needs to be aligned more systematically to sustainability in the future and the sustainability benefits of its products and technologies need to be communicated more effectively. “That is becoming more and more important because sustainable solutions are a key criterion in many consumers’ purchasing decisions,” explains Franziska Vosen. “Europe plays an important role in this because various draft laws are set to make market conditions for plastics and rubber producers far tougher than in, for example, the USA or Asia.”

Thanks to the international focus of her traineeship, Franziska Vosen is able to foster global networking. At first, she will be moving to a different department at Kuraray in Europe every five months and she will also be involved in international projects to help her gain an initial insight. At the start of 2022, she will spend three months in Japan. In this way, Kuraray in Europe is supporting endeavours to spread the enormous importance of sustainability in Japan. There is a good reason why sustainability and innovation are the principal aspects of the strategic focus of the Kuraray Group’s Mid-Term Plan for 2022-2026.

A traineeship with a future

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, most of Franziska Vosen’s work is done remotely. “I’m really happy with how I’ve been welcomed by Kuraray and integrated into the company,” she says. The onboarding phase in October was mainly supervised by Dominique Buono, HR Training & Development Partner. After that Franziska Vosen was assigned to the Business Transformation and Marketing department led by Johanna Krauthauf, which also provides key support for the Sustainability Initiative. In this department, Franziska Vosen was able to assist with the preparations for Kuraray in Europe’s European Future Day in November, which focused on sustainability. She is also helping the team improve internal communication on sustainability-related issues.

There are already some great projects that are enhancing sustainability, including many products, projects to save energy, and Kuraray’s decision to join the United Nations Global Compact. These show the company’s commitment to responsible business development.

Franziska Vosen

Now the goal is to improve awareness of them in the company. To do that, Kuraray is introducing a sustainability blog in the intranet. Alongside plenty of interesting information on products and activities, there will be sustainability-oriented “life hacks”. This is an area where Franziska Vosen can make a big contribution. She enjoys writing short articles and encouraging people at Kuraray to share information. Together with her flatmate in Frankfurt, she tries to live in a climate-friendly manner. That includes taking a critical attitude to what she buys, for example, by discussing packaging and more sustainable solutions. Therefore, Franziska Vosen is therefore particularly enthusiastic about the international Paper & Packaging Initiative, which was set up at Kuraray a few months ago to work on innovative solutions for sustainable packaging.

She also sees networking and working together on solutions as an opportunity for the new traineeship. Going forward, she hopes that sustainability will play a bigger role in the Kuraray Group in the future and that the initiatives will result in more sustainability-oriented jobs like hers.

Our sustainability trainee

Franziska Vosen
22 years
Business studies degree with a specialization in sustainability (and marketing) from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany

“Networked collaboration on sustainable solutions at international level is the key to a green future.”

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