Interviews - December 18, 2019

André Rittermeier, Expert of the month – November 2019!

Written by Lea Andersson 5 min read

The Expert of the Month award for November 2019 goes to André Rittermeier – thank you so much André for your great contribution and involvement! André has been an Expert at the Solar Impulse Foundation since March 2018, making him one of our very first Experts.

Continue reading below to learn more about him, his exciting work at Covestro and the long history between Covestro and the Solar Impulse Foundation as one of the founding members of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions.

André was born in Bochum, Germany and studied chemistry at the Ruhr-University Bochum. He majored in industrial chemistry and later specialized in heterogeneous catalysis. He is now married and has two children.

André started his career in 2010 at Bayer Technologies Services in the R&D department. 3 years later, in 2013, he moved to Bayer Material Science and worked as Global Expert Catalysis and Process Expert. 

After the carve-out of BMS/Covestro from Bayer, he made a huge step in 2017 by accepting a position in Shanghai, China for Covestro as Venture Manager (Business Representative) for a large investment project. Since early 2019, he is the Start-Up Manager and will start with his team the new plant, once constructed as the outcome of the investment project.

André's field of expertise is mainly chemistry, but he also gathered experience in R&D, project management, investment project execution, production, HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment, and Quality), Organisational Networks, Leadership and People Development during the different functions in along his career.

In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his family as well as playing badminton and table soccer.

Could you tell us more about Covestro’s activity and its relation with the Solar Impulse Foundation?

Covestro is a world-leading supplier of high-tech polymer materials: innovative, sustainable and diverse. Thanks to our global presence and close proximity to our customers, we are the partner of choice for a wide variety of industries. Our products and application solutions are used in many areas of modern life. 

In line with our vision “to make the world a brighter place,” we work on solutions to meet the challenges of our time and push the boundaries of what is possible.

Covestro has set ambitious sustainability goals for 2025. We want to further reduce our specific emissions, pass on our sustainability standards to our suppliers, align our research with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, improve the livelihoods of ten million people in underserved markets and get the most out of carbon.

With these goals, we are pursuing a comprehensive approach encompassing the entire product lifecycle, taking into account social, environmental and economic aspects. Furthermore, we want to make our progress transparent with hard key figures:

  • Our R&D project portfolio is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • 100% of suppliers compliant with our sustainability requirements.
  • Reduce specific greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.
  • 10 million people in underserved markets benefit from our business solutions.
  • Getting the most out of carbon.

Covestro collaborated with the Solar Impulse mission from the beginning – the solar aircraft that flew around the world without fuel. 

The round-the-world flight demonstrated the tremendous potential for progress in the field of clean technologies, such as the ultra-lightweight and insulating materials Covestro developed for the plane.

Covestro is now one of the founding members of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, supporting the network with both financial and personnel resources.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

Leadership and People. Covestro is all about safe, reliable and sustainable production as well as cost efficiency, research and development of new processes and products. In my job, as Start-up Manager in an investment project, everything is about costs and schedules, quality and safety, cutting edge technology and work efficiency. But the biggest challenge of all is leadership and people.

All the ideas in a company are generated by people. All the plants are engineered by people. All the projects are executed by people. All successes are achieved by people. The question is how to motivate these people day by day to be innovative, creative, passionate, and successful in an empowered way. This question is related to leadership. And this is the question I ask myself everyday.

But this part of my work is also the most motivating part to me: to see people being innovative, creative, passionate and successful is the most rewarding part of my work.

What is the value of being an Expert for you, and in general what does being part of the World Alliance mean?

In our world there are millions of ideas and solutions for a more sustainable future as well as millions of scientists, engineers, idealists who want to make the world a brighter place. But how can we make these ideas, products, solutions visible? For me the problem the world has today is not a lack of ideas for sustainable solutions: it is a lack of awareness and focus. 

What value do all these ideas and solutions have if no one can see them?

This is the task of the “World Alliance for Efficient Solutions”, to make these sustainable solutions visible. My task as Expert is to select the solutions that are ecological and economical and therefore should be focused on, and that have the potential to make our world more sustainable. Besides this, the Expert role allows me to get a deep insight into a lot of different developments in technology, which keeps me up-to-date and generates a lot of new ideas within me.

I am very satisfied that I got the opportunity to be an Expert of the World Alliance and that Covestro is supporting me to evaluate all of these ideas and solutions for a more sustainable future.

Have you come across any interesting Solution that you would like to see in our 1000 Solutions portfolio? If not, do you know of any Solution that you wish to see in our portfolio?

No. At the moment I am fully focused on my project. I am happy to get the chance from the World Alliance to get some information about solutions outside of my company, but there is no specific solution I could promote for the 1000 Solutions portfolio.

How do you think the Label could be implemented more effectively?

I want to play back the question. To be effective you need to know what your audience is.

Does the World Alliance focus on end customers? Should the Label be a decision guide for end customers to choose certain products or technologies? Or does the World Alliance focus on investors? Should the label tell investors who want to invest money in sustainable solutions, which the really sustainable and economically feasible solutions are?

If the customers are the focus, the World Alliance should maybe also assess more solutions from big players / companies, who do not need financial or resource support as the small start-ups, but want to show that they have sustainable products / solutions. They will then promote these products / solutions and the Label will become visible for end customers.

If the investors are the focus the World Alliance should maybe approach investors and banks directly who are focused on investments in companies with sustainable products and business concepts.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

Never accept the status quo. Be always curious, courageous, and colourful!

Written by Lea Andersson on December 18, 2019

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