Andrea Falkner

Sustainable careers.

There are many reasons for starting a professional career at the BMW Group. However, the company's commitment to continuously work on improving social, ecological and cultural conditions is a particularly good reason in the context of sustainability.

 

Access to the right “levers”

Why I applied for a job at BMW Group? “The company stands not only for technology and mobility, but also has comprehensive corporate responsibility policies in place that protect people and the environment”, says Andrea Falkner. Around 18 years ago she joined the BMW Group in Munich and, after already developing a strong interest for sustainability issues when studying business management and in particular while working on her doctoral thesis in environmental economics, now has access to the “right levers”, as she puts it.

One of the reasons for her decision to join a car manufacturer “of all things” in order to enable her to put her ideas into practice is BMW's research into the hydrogen vehicle of the future, which the company started decades ago. “I thought long and hard about how and in which areas I can make the biggest impact with my work in terms of sustainability”, she says. Since there were no vacancies in hydrogen development at the time, she worked in controlling for a few years before she was able to take on a role that was ideally suited to her putting her ecological and social goals into practice. She now organises and monitors sustainability in the supply chain.

Currently, the BMW Group is working directly with approximately 12,000 companies in 70 countries. And these, in turn, have their own suppliers. “They must all meet our high standards, and we are constantly tightening our sustainability policies”, Andrea Falkner says. Every company that wants to supply the BMW Group will undergo in-depth evaluations in terms of their environmental and human rights policies as well as their work and business practices. To this end, Andrea Falkner and the “Sustainability in the supply chain” team have developed a questionnaire that breaks down the individual specifications into questions. A certified environmental management system, a certified occupational health and safety system and standardised sustainability reports are mandatory, for example. “Part of my job is convincing others to adopt the highest standards and conveying that we have very high expectations – as well as monitoring compliance. Initially, some companies are not prepared to meet all of our demands. The production of steel and aluminium, for example, becomes more complex and more expensive as a result”, Andrea Falkner points out. However, businesses improving their carbon footprint was an important factor if they want to supply the BMW Group in the long term. At the same time, the team is participating in various sustainability initiatives to significantly improve the sustainability standards of entire regions on behalf of the BMW Group. One of those is the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI), aimed at overcoming the social and environmental risks associated with cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. BMW Group is also a co-founder of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, which was set up together with other companies and NGOs to improve standards in the natural rubber value chain.

 

Sustainability and technology

Eva Knischourek’s motivation for starting a career with BMW Group was different from that of her colleague Andrea Falkner. The technology expert with a PhD in electrical engineering approaches the topic of sustainability from two different angles. On the one hand, she “obviously” wants to live a sustainable life. She goes wherever she can by bicycle, separates her waste and has been a vegetarian for seven years. On the other hand, she is passionate about technological progress and in particular about electric mobility. “Here, I can use my engineering expertise to make the world we live in a little bit more environmentally compatible”, she says. Electric mobility and climate protection were inextricably linked with each other. Since the BMW Group had advanced the development of climate-friendly powertrains worldwide and brought the first models to market over ten years ago, it was a logical step for her to apply for a position at the BMW Group in this area. 

Eva Knischourek

 

For the past four years, Eva has thus worked in the (further) development of high-voltage batteries for current and future electric BMW vehicles. “I am in charge of our batteries meeting the numerous safety, performance and endurance specifications set by ourselves and authorities and governments around the globe”, she explains. She performs a series of tests on battery prototypes, for example, with a view to starting series production of those batteries. In this way, she was able to contribute towards the safety of sustainable modes of transport. After all, every kilometre travelled in an electric vehicle was another step towards a sustainable future.