“New and yet Familiar”
Dirk Van Meirvenne has been managing the business unit Advanced Industrial Intermediates (BU AII) since May.
Mr. Van Meirvenne, you are new at LANXESS and here at the business unit AII. Why did you decide to take this step?
I was convinced in particular by the LANXESS claim “Energizing Chemistry,” since it reflects that the products are answers to major challenges in our society. That is true both for the group as well as the business unit AII. In addition, I wanted to utilize my knowledge and experience with chemical processes and asset management in chem- istry again. Managing BU AII, with its vast product portfolio and complex facilities, was therefore a very attractive task. Another important factor is that I know and value several of my current superiors, colleagues and employees from my former work.
How have you spent your first weeks in the position?
I took a look at many facilities and made an effort to listen more than talk – which does not always come easy to me given my impatient nature. But I wanted to first get a comprehensive overview of the facilities and the people at BU AII, since it has not only an excellent facility structure and outstanding market positions, but is overall a well-structured, highly functional business unit. This is due in large part to the competence of the employees, who understand the products and the processes in depth and even think aloud at meetings sometimes, which often leads to outstanding ideas.
So how innovative is AII?
The strength of the innovation at AII is much greater than many think! Innovation is more than just inventing new molecules – it is also about value-producing ideas in all areas of the business unit. The employees at AII continually develop new application possibilities as well as procedural improvements and thereby move us forward. We need to always keep our facilities state of the art to stay ahead of the competition.
How do you want to further promote the success-oriented culture at AII?
I find that the culture needed for success is already present at AII; everyone is very open with each other here. That is something I strongly support, because I am convinced that the correct corporate culture is a decisive factor in the company becoming successful. To achieve that, it is important to me that we are open to feedback from the top as well, which involves accepting criticism and using it as an opportunity to improve.
What plans do you have for AII in the medium term?
Our focus is growth; both through internal projects as well as acquisitions. However, we want to avoid putting ourselves under time pressure. Instead, we will review the options carefully to ensure we make the correct decisions. In addition, I see major potential in optimizing the supply chain. I also want to work on security. This is an area where AII is below the branch aver- age. To fix this, I am relying on continual dialogue and my function as a role model by, for example, always using the handrail and wearing a helmet when riding a bike. I also want to personally tend to each accident involving days lost and continue to improve our positive security culture.