#WeAreTOMRA: Meet Kari, Café Team Member


For our 50th anniversary year, meet our second-longest serving employee across the entire global TOMRA team of 4,600 people! For Kari Tharaldsen in Norway, contributing to a clean and healthy work environment, and colleagues that value her work, are the reasons why she still loves working at TOMRA all of 41 years after she first started working with us.  

How did you start at TOMRA? 

I was asked to join TOMRA by one of the Planke brothers, the company founders, back in 1981. A friend was cleaning at TOMRA, and from ’79 to ’81 I would often come in at night to help speed up her work, so that we could go out dancing. When I got hired, I started cleaning two or three evenings per week. But soon, my responsibilities expanded into the canteen as well, making and serving lunch to our employees each day. I would work in the canteen from 10am to 2pm and then clean the production and office areas from 3pm to 8pm. I instantly liked working at TOMRA, and I still do. It feels as if my 40 years here have simply flown by. 

What is your role at TOMRA? 

Through the years, I have had many different responsibilities related to the operation of the canteen and the cleaning of our buildings, both in the Asker office building and the nearby Lier production building, and some older office and production locations. Today, I mainly work in our new cafeteria in Asker, and I am additionally responsible for keeping all the coffee stations throughout the office building up and running and fully equipped. I do not clean the office spaces myself anymore, but I support our People & Organization division in overseeing the work of the office cleaning crew. 

Kari on a trip for the company's 25th anniversary year, and at a celebration for one of the company's founders:

What is it that you like about your work, and what has motivated you to stay for this long? 

I simply love cleaning and seeing that everything gets nice and clean. I enjoy delighting others, and I am proud to contribute to a nice and healthy working environment where people can thrive. TOMRA has supported me in getting formally educated in cleanliness and hygiene at work, and I take that seriously. From day one, I have also really appreciated my colleagues and the unique TOMRA spirit. People respect each other here. I feel like I have always been truly “seen” by my co-workers, regardless of who they are: CEOs, middle management or other employees. Everyone has always treated me with respect and valued my work. That is very important to me, and probably also one of the key reasons that I have stayed working here for so long. In my work I try to give a little of myself every day, and I feel rewarded when I get smile back. 

What changes have you seen throughout all these years? 

What I do in my work has not really changed much during this time, but as the company has grown, we are of course caring for many more people now, and we see more international guests and colleagues. As I do not speak much English, I do not have conversations with all of them, but a smile works well in all languages, and really goes a long way. Our premises and offerings have also improved quite a bit over time as we have moved to new locations over the years. Our canteen services started out simply offering some bread, butter, jam and cheese, but today we run what is more like a café, serving a much larger variety of food every day. 

Kari preparing the coffee station in the newly revamped Kafé Matro in the TOMRA office in Asker, Norway:


What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I am quite restless as a person. I do not like to sit still. I love to go for really long walks in the evenings, work in my garden and spend time with my grandchildren. I also still really like dancing, and my husband and I are learning to dance swing together once a week. Another hobby is weaving. I started on a really big tapestry a few years ago, but I had to give my arms a break from it. Perhaps when I go into retirement, I might pick that up again. But I am not ready to retire just yet. I really like going to work at TOMRA, and I enjoy seeing the results of what I do every day. I will need time to gradually get used to the idea of retirement. Perhaps I will test out working four days per week this year. I am in no rush to stay at home!