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“Sustainability is one of most important and pressing themes of our age”

Caroline Zöller

Published on 03.04.2020

Leonie Sterk’s job at Epson is to make products and processes more sustainable. Something she would like to use to win over customers and partners with.

With its “Environmental Vision for 2050”, established in 2008, Epson has orientated itself to the United Nations’ sustainability goals for quite some time. Special staff in five different countries and a team of four in Amsterdam are currently co-ordinating the realisation of these goals on behalf of the company. As sustainability manager, Leonie Sterk is responsible for the DACH region. In this interview, she reveals just what makes her job so fascinating.

What does your typical working day as sustainability manager look like?

One of my main tasks is communication. That means that my colleagues and I are the contacts for any questions relating to this topic – both externally and internally. We try to sensitise people involved in all areas of the company, in management structures, decision-making processes and production to be sparing in their use of natural resources. Now that may sound a little theoretical but it isn’t! Ultimately, it’s always about specific projects. This includes local initiatives such as environmental lessons in schools in Meerbusch and its local surroundings, sustainability workshops for specialised dealers, and also involves regular participation in conferences. One of our international projects is the educational initiative “New Horizons”. It provides different partnerships and measures that we use to promote education in sustainability among 10,000 students throughout Europe. I am able to change things through what I do and see progress in what we do as a team every day. This is probably one of the most important aspects of my job.

How did you get the job?

Sustainability management is a very recent invention so there are different ways of entering the profession. Alongside an MA in environmental engineering sciences, environmental or sustainability management, many enter the job laterally having studied economics, communicational or political sciences or quality management. I have a BA in European studies and politics with a focus on environmental politics. I then did my international master’s degree in environmental sciences, policy and management. I have worked for Epson for two and a half years now and worked in the sustainability department of other companies beforehand. The job offers a lot of variety in a fast-moving area. It is not only very fulfilling, it is also meaningful!

What would you like to achieve in your job?

My aim is to find and put into practice solutions that create a more sustainable world. Alongside such projects, it is important to me that products and processes at Epson become more sustainable too. We as an enterprise have a huge potential to set things in motion. However, only by setting a good example can we also inspire our colleagues, the retail trade and our customers to take sustainability more seriously and create broader awareness. It is great to see just what can happen when you manage to spark someone’s interest. Not least, the idea that I am part of a larger whole also really motivates me. Sustainability is one of most important and pressing themes of our age. What spurs me on every day is being able to make a contribution above and beyond what I do in my private life.