In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Rajesh Kumar.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In the new “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In the sixth part of the series, Rajesh Kunar, Purchasing and Quality Management at the BMW Group plant in Chennai, India, tells us about the unique way he encourages thousands of people to adopt sustainable behaviour every year – and the changes that he is personally noticing.
Rajesh Kumar, you plant trees, get involved with people who lack the basics like water or food, and are very active when it comes to promoting sustainability and especially education. And you do all this alongside the day job, because in your role you are responsible for ensuring that suppliers reduce their CO2 emissions. That’s a lot of projects – what do you personally want to achieve?
Rajesh Kumar: Well, actually, I have two main goals: the first thing I want to do is meet my professional goal and make the supply chain more sustainable here on site with the Indian suppliers. My second, personal goal is to raise awareness of and educate 100,000 people each year on the issue of sustainability. I use my personal networks as well as social media to do this. These two goals complement each other very well, because sustainability is a way of life for me. It applies to every aspect of my daily life: personal, professional and social in equal measure. I want to live a sustainable personal life and at the same time work in the most sustainable organisation in the world. As a responsible citizen, I also see it as my duty to make my own contribution to today’s society and to future generations. I am convinced that sustainable thinking sets the right path for me to do this. Because sustainability means considering all dimensions and aspects of life and taking a structured approach to achieve our goals.
What could get in the way or even stop you from achieving these goals?
Kumar: Some people are not sufficiently aware of sustainability, or have a different mindset that gets in the way of this kind of thinking. Sometimes there is simply a lack of willingness to actively engage and cooperate. My team and our managers are all behind me though. Suppliers are also playing their part and the BMW Group sets a great example.
What positive effects and successes do you already see today?
Kumar: We have significantly improved the sustainability of our suppliers in the last two years and want to push it even more in the future. I have been working on sustainability projects for several years now and also raise awareness among my colleagues. Every team member takes part in sustainability improvement projects once a year, and we also share best practices with other departments and countries. We also explain the sustainability measures to production line employees and at the suppliers in their own native language so they fully understand the goals and can work toward them more easily. Another focus of our work is that we explain our expectations and requirements to all suppliers and employees and their own role in the sustainability journey.
How has your involvement with sustainability changed you personally in recent years?
Kumar: Some things have changed. I feel a clear difference. I use only sustainable products now and try to find out what I can recycle and reuse. I am also increasingly trying to raise awareness among my family and friends.
Was there any particular reason or trigger for your involvement? And what have you learnt from this so far?
Kumar: There was no specific trigger. However, I want to behave as a responsible citizen myself in view of the current global climate changes, and I also want to encourage others to take the sustainable path. This is not always easy, because people’s understanding of sustainability varies greatly. But my biggest insight is that our way of life changes when we start thinking sustainably. This can bring about a change in society.
You have already achieved a lot, reaching many people with your sustainability efforts – from suppliers to your social media contacts. What are you particularly proud of?
Kumar: Sustainability has positive social, environmental and economic effects, and I am proud of the results our actions have brought about at the BMW Group.
In a single sentence: What motivates you to keep going day in, day out?
Kumar: Daily learning and learning by sharing.
Let’s say the Chairman of the Board of BMW AG, Oliver Zipse, offers you his support in achieving your sustainability goals. What would your suggestion be?
Kumar: I would like a “Young Sustainability Circle” to be introduced in every department and in every market of the BMW Group worldwide; firstly to raise awareness, and secondly to strengthen the implementation and effectiveness of sustainability activities.
And when is it good enough?
Kumar: Never – there is something to learn every day.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.