TOMRA marks International Women’s Day 2022
International Women’s Day today is a global day that marks a call to action for gender equality and representation, and highlights the achievements of women across the globe. TOMRA has many talented women in its worldwide team, and today TOMRA Collection spotlights three women working in leadership across the company.
On this International Women's Day, our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and particularly the women and children there. Today, many of these people have been forced to flee, shelter with their loved ones or fight for their country.
Many will feel that it is difficult to celebrate during these challenging times. After two very difficult years of a pandemic that disproportionately affected women at work and home, and now in the last few days we have a devastating attack and invasion of Ukraine that has torn families apart and will again severely impact women. Even in times of hardship gender equality should always be on the agenda. Our thoughts are with all our friends, colleagues, customers, and partners affected by the situation. We call for a quick and peaceful end to this conflict.
Today, we meet Tove Andersen, the new President & CEO of TOMRA, based in Norway; Liliya Hung, General Manager for TOMRA Collection Taiwan; and Debbie Hall, Senior Vice-President for Sales Strategic Accounts, in the US.
What is your role at TOMRA Collection?
Liliya: My role in TOMRA is General Manager of the Taiwan branch, overseeing the daily operations and ensuring strategic goals are met. The concept of recycling has been planted in the Taiwanese mindset for a long time. Taiwan was one of the first markets in Asia to establish a recycling system, so the values of collection were established deep into the citizens since we were children. This makes Taiwan a special market as the recycling rate is high, as people are willing to recycle even without a deposit return system. Therefore, my main goal is to focus on innovating the business models to make reverse vending successful in the region.
Debbie: Over the past 28 years of working for TOMRA, I have worked in IT, Finance, held a position as a Regional VP, and finally landed in Sales. The opportunity to grow both individually and with TOMRA has allowed me to be involved with many different stakeholders (both internally and externally), influence legislative changes, and provide input on what consumers and customers want and need in future products.
Tove: I’m the CEO of TOMRA. To be at the helm of a successful company, with 4600 great employees working hard every day to lead the resource revolution, is a true privilege. There are three key elements to my role. First, it’s my responsibility that we have a clear direction for the company, what is our purpose and how shall we get there. This is covered by having a clear mission and vision but also a set of strategic priorities and clear targets. Second, my role is motivating and enabling the organization to deliver on the purpose, the ambition, and the strategy. To do that, we need to have the right talents, clear communication around the strategy, and a culture where we can get the best out of everyone. The third element of my role is towards the Board and external stakeholders. I need to create trust and confidence so that we can get the support and funding needed to drive our strategy. But it’s also about positioning TOMRA, so that we attract talents and create new business opportunities.
What motivated you to take this career path?
Tove: I’m motivated by making a positive difference. I like seeing the results of what I do and that those results contribute to the planet. I like being a leader because it gives me the opportunity to use a broad variety of skills. I like the combination of structured, analytical work to decide on strategic issues, and lots of interactions with people to understand what works, what can be improved and how we should go about achieving the targets set. The way society uses resources today is not sustainable. Unless we act now, climate change will have a disastrous impact on the planet, and it is so meaningful to work with how to solve that. I truly believe that we in TOMRA can make a significant difference and that is what really motivates me every day.
Liliya: A family member established a local plastic packaging manufacturer that later turned into a recycling business in Romania. After several years, we brought operations of the recycling business to Taiwan. The knowledge that I gained from my family’s recycling business encouraged me to join TOMRA. Seeing the impact and benefits that reverse vending offers, I believe this kind of technical solution will help Taiwan, because it can really make our lives better and cleaner.
Debbie: Knowing that TOMRA’s products and services are used to preserve the planet’s precious resources and help to reduce containers from ending up discarded on land and in the water is something we can all be proud of. The energy of the people I am fortunate to have worked with, many that have been here just as long as me, is unique. Few people, after nearly three decades, can say they still feel challenged, are still motivated, and still find joy in coming to work each day. I am one of the lucky ones that can.
How would you encourage more women to choose a career in your field?
Debbie: Find something you believe in and are passionate about, and stick with it. If you wake up every day loving what you do, you will be successful.
Tove: First, I would encourage everyone to find something that you are passionate about. I don’t believe you can excel in something unless you really enjoy what you are doing. Second, dare to be ambitious. Not necessarily about climbing a career ladder, but dare to be ambitious of what you can achieve and what impact you can have.
My third point will be to not let fear steer you. It might seem scary to become a leader and suddenly have the responsibility for many people and large revenues and profit. It might seem scary to become a CEO, and yes, it will be for a time. But don’t let that guide your decisions. Being a leader is not about having all the answers yourself, it is not about making a lot of decisions alone behind closed doors. It’s about building a team, pulling on the strengths of the organization, listening, and facilitating so the right decisions can be made. Of course, it might be tough sometimes, but then it’s important that you have a support network around you – and it’s also a lot of fun. I get the opportunity to be involved in all parts of the organization, I get to travel around and meet with so many great people. I get the opportunity to learn new things every day, and I get the opportunity to make choices and decisions that can create a difference. In the end it is a privilege and definitely worth going after.
Liliya: Actually, gender has never been an issue for me when I pursue what I want, and I don’t think anyone should limit themselves with it. If you love it, then go for it. I do notice the perspectives of certain industries has been transformed when they get more and more female employees. With ideas from different angles and new viewpoints, the performance of those traditional industries is better and potential opportunities are also increased. See? We are making a difference!