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Pioneer and team player

INTERVIEW WITH JAN BÖTTCHER, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT LAST UPDATED: 2014

Jan Böttcher is an economist and has already tackled the subject of sustainable corporate management as part of his degree. He completed his thesis as a practical project at Gira, thus introducing the subject of sustainability into the company. He received a great deal of support for this at Gira. Jan resolutely continued along this path and now works as sustainability manager at Gira. He promotes this topic with expertise and enthusiasm. His training as a choirmaster helps him to attentively listen to and observe the various opinions and aspects that make up sustainable action and bring them together in a coherent manner.

Topics in this article


Final-year project at Gira


Joining the company after university


Gira and sustainability

You studied economics and your thesis was on the subject of sustainability. What was your thesis about exactly?

JB: I had already written my thesis at Gira as this was a practical project. In my thesis, I addressed sustainable corporate management and the integration of internal stakeholders. The question was, to what extent sustainability is a topic for employees, managers, managing directors and shareholders. The thesis also formulates a recommendation on integration, i.e. on how the entire topic should be implemented and incorporated into the corporate culture. For this purpose, I conducted an in-house business survey. The feedback was very positive. This showed that the topic fits Gira very well.

After your final-year project, you started working at Gira as the sustainability manager. You were able to develop and design your field of activity virtually by yourself. What does this mean for you?

JB: This is a fantastic task, which means a great deal to me. When you finish studying and have worked on something with your final-year project, then it's great if it is also put to use. This is just what you want. But it wasn't a case of me coming here, becoming the sustainability manager and then simply getting started straight away. Of course, I first listened to my colleagues and saw how things worked here in the company. Only then did I try to get involved in an optimum manner and place and develop the topic properly.

I appreciate being given a lot of freedom and being able to design tasks. It is then also important to get feedback from management that we are on the right path. I am of course very motivated by this. I'm not dealing with the topic of sustainability on my own, but rather in a team. What is important here is that I am in discussion with my colleagues and achieve these results together with them. Good ideas come from discussion and from working together. We have already developed a lot with regard to sustainable actions at Gira.

When we hear the term sustainability, we mainly think in terms of environmentally responsible actions. What do environmental protection and nature conservation mean to you?

JB: Environmentally responsible actions – this describes a partial aspect of sustainability. We are living in a consumer-oriented society and make use of our environment for this. There's no getting round this. What's important is that we do this in a moderate and responsible manner by ensuring that the environment has a chance of regeneration. This is the topic of environmental protection and sustainability. The issue of responsibility is central here, and concerns all areas of sustainability.



Jan Böttcher plays the cello and is a qualified choirmaster. He values good interaction, not only when playing music but also at work. "What is important here is that I am in discussion with my colleagues and we achieve these results together. Good ideas come from discussion and from working together", says the economist.


They can already be heard: The term 'sustainability' can also be defined more broadly. Not only in terms of environmental protection and conservation of resources. How is the term interpreted at Gira?

JB: The question touches on an important point. The term 'sustainability' should be interpreted holistically; it covers a whole series of aspects that belong together. Accordingly, here at Gira we also consider sustainability according to the three-pillar principle. The first pillar is environmental protection, i.e. taking a responsible approach to nature and its resources. The second pillar relates to economy, which calls for responsible economic planning. The third pillar relates to the social aspect. This relates to how you handle people, employees, colleagues and customers. This also includes how you conduct yourself in the region. These are all important aspects that form a part of sustainability, and they are all reflected in Gira's corporate culture.

How has the topic of sustainability been addressed and developed since you were hired by Gira?

JB: . This includes representatives from different departments. As it were, a cross-section is formed from the various areas. In this committee we analysed where we stand at Gira and what we still have to do. The question was: How can sustainable actions play a part in our philosophy and our mission and be firmly embedded in the company? We drew up recommendations for this. In addition, we also defined measures that we must continue to implement on our way to sustainability. We also formulated where we could do better. We summarised all this and presented our recommendations and suggestions to management. They were then agreed upon and approved for implementation. It is now our joint task to process these measures. As sustainability manager I am primarily responsible for coordination and control. We have also started with internal communication. It comes down to interesting employees in the topic, explaining what sustainable actions mean and what we want to do together. We are currently in this process.

The concept of sustainability – how significant is it at Gira?

JB: The management team considers it to be very important. You can see that sustainability fits very well with the basic understanding of the company and is valued as an important recommendation for action. As a target which will take us forward. But it is always a multifaceted topic. If you spontaneously asked a few colleagues, their replies would certainly be quite different. Some would say,it is very important, while others may possibly consider it less important. But I can see that the will is there for it. It's clear that it is a topic with long-term impact and which calls for patience and time. Of course, some current issues always have priority. But sustainability is by no means a topic that should be ignored. It has its own significance and should be extended further.

You are a musician, you like to sing, are a trained choirmaster and play the cello. How is it at Gira, are your musical talents noticeable?

JB: I have already wondered if I should ask how many people are musical, and then maybe start up a choir or an instrumental ensemble. But it's just an idea. I actually believe that my experiences as a choirmaster have an impact. They help me to build up a harmonious sound from different characters just like the various voices in music. You can have many good individual voices, but it doesn't have to mean that they can sing well together. It's important to listen carefully and say: That's good, that must be better, something should be emphasised, or something else pulled back. Yes, I think that having a flair for being a choirmaster helps me to bring together various aspects in a harmonious manner.

PROFILE OF JAN BÖTTCHER


Born
1985

At Gira since
2011

Studies
Economics in Hanover

Career at Gira
He already worked at Gira during his studies as an intern in market communication and production logistics. Böttcher was particularly concerned with the topic of sustainability in his studies and then wrote his final-year project on the field. He then started working at Gira as a project manager and took over the project management for the sustainability strategy and for strategic marketing.

[Last updated: 2014]


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