Meiying Lin

Interview: Innovation and sustainability: how technology change our future 

With the population growth, one of the most important changes to corporations lies in their roles of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Maximising the profit is no longer the sole goal for big companies- they are demanded to help alleviate the environmental harm without compromising their competitiveness. This is a task of massive magnitude. It is still impossible for firms to prioritise their real profit over environment effort. Major corporations are introducing methods to satisfy both profitability and responsibility. Sustainable technology is a solution. In manufacturing industry, a pollution-prevention-pays plan was proposed to reduce the pollution by applying latest pollution process method. The construction of this interview referenced an early interview with Patrick Deconinck, senior vice present Western Europe for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M), an leading manufacturing company, with distribution sites in over 30 countries around the globe (Gareth Bell, 2013).

In 2013, 3M western Europe division has saved $ 1.5 billion on budget because of technology innovation and 3.5 billion pounds of pollution by 3M’s continuing sustainability program. Interviews on company leaders can help understand if such strategically pattern is replicable in other sector for reaching environmental and financial goals. This post present an interview questions for corporate leaders in order to learn their make decision between pure economic reasonable with consideration to environmental sustainability. The purpose of this interview is to look for how corporate executives view on technology innovation, to eliminate environmental effect. Due to the time limit, only part of the interview was able to be carried out. Follow-up questions are listed for the next session.


Interview Questions

Q1. What is a customer-led innovation strategy and how is it important to your company?

A: Working with community is an essential action to achieve better relationship with client. Because of the expected expansion in the market share, especially in the US, the communities are regarded as the fundamental unit for the KPI of increasing the number of the locations economic contribution. The responsibility to these communities also increased accordingly. In addition, the company and its employees are proud to work for the sustainable development of Ashtead community service.

One method of the business model is to help people get things done. This is about finding a solution, especially when there is an emergency or disaster, such as a flood or hurricane. Resulting in communities in which they operate is an important differentiating factor for Ashtead staff and is attracted to new recruits.

Q2. How do you think of the CSR for your organisation? Would you consider limiting the environmental effect important to the corporation development?

A: To have CSR is important for any enterprises. The company aims to fulfill the environmental obligations in order to make better relation with customers in general.

Q3. How can innovative technology offset the harmful byproducts? Are there any far-reaching technological innovation that can ensure both the profitability and sustainability?

AWe have been conducting specific measures to offset harmful byproducts, they  are: Supervision and management comply with relevant environmental laws and regulations (such as the introduction of the United States four engines) and requirements, and self-audit in order to maintain compliance; Investment in the rental fleet is updated regularly to ensure that the company provides the customers with the latest environmental technology that Ashtead choose from the manufacturers, in the case of a possible offer of equipment; To ensure that the stores have adequate security and safe way of operation, protect the environment, key issues include: flushing release the collection and safe disposal of the bay, when the board check and return the rental material cleaning equipment; sealer to ensure that the paint shop spray booths and equipment can be safely and securely; Bonded fuel tank to ensure the safety of the fleet, under the relevant circumstances; Ensure that appropriate arrangements, by using reputable suppliers, to collect and dispose of waste fuel and oil, tires and other old or damaged part, the service and maintenance the rental fleet; Investment in a modern and efficient fleet, so that the company can ensure good fuel efficiency and emission management of the vehicles were purchased; In practical situations, to ensure that the control the noise and potential damage,  in shops around, to unduly affect the surrounding communities. By a significant increase in waste recycling, reduce the landfill.

(follow up question)

Q4. The economy has been incredibly difficult in the whole Europe zone. As leader of how is this affected your company, and how can you make sure your firm are robust   enough to endure such turbulent times and still make profit to shareholders?

Q5. How do you think of the importance of R&D? Some believes that reducing Research and Development (R&D) investment is a mean to reduce budget and therefore maintain profitability for investors in the short term in such a market. Do you agree with such statement? Could you consider it on your position and whether you feel R&D is important or not to your firm’s success?

Q6. What do you think is role that businesses should play taking account of sustainability and environmental issues? Should they be prioritise for a corporate?

Q7. How difficult to maintain cohesion across such a dispersed organization? And how can you do this?


Reference

Interview by Gareth Bell, (2013) “Innovating for a sustainable future: an interview with Patrick Deconinck, Senior Vice President Western Europe for 3M”, Strategic Direction, Vol. 29 Iss: 3, pp.36 – 38

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