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In Conversation with Thomas Hajduk

"Sustainability is a combination of many different aspects"

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Thomas Hajduk has been professionally involved with the topic of sustainability for more than 10 years. Since September 2020, he has been the man for green and other sustainability topics at the Vorwerk Group. In this interview, he discusses climate protection, responsibility, and his passion for video games.

 


Thomas, in your free time you like to swap your laptop for a gaming PC. Are there any parallels between your hobby and your work as a sustainability expert at the Vorwerk Group?

Thomas: In both cases, I don't want to have to read "Game Over" (laughs)! No, seriously: I like to play construction and strategy games. They reward those who act with planning and foresight. It's similar with sustainability: at its core, it's about thinking long-term and making sound decisions to meet the growing societal demands on companies. Climate change is a good example of this: we reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the present and thereby limit the consequences of man-made global warming in the future.

But sustainability has to do with more than just climate and environmental protection, doesn’t it?

Thomas: That's right! In addition to ecological sustainability, we also talk about social and economic sustainability. Dealing fairly with our own employees, but also with people in the supply chains, is part of social sustainability. Economic sustainability includes, for example, managing a business with integrity. Sustainability is therefore a combination of many different aspects – and that's why I think it's so exciting.

Thomas Hajduk in Video Interview

The media and the public are highly sensitized to sustainability

Critical voices often accuse companies of talking about sustainability, but not taking it very seriously, especially with its social and ecological dimensions...

Thomas: In the public discussion, there is often talk of "greenwashing" in this context. The term shows that the media and the public are highly sensitized to sustainability. Words must therefore always be followed by deeds in order to also withstand external scrutiny. At Vorwerk, it is even the other way round. Here, the motto is: "First do it, then talk about it!” This is a decisive factor for being credible when it comes to sustainability.

First do it, then talk about it – that statement resonates with a lot of motivation. What drives you?

Thomas: Sustainability always has something to do with inner drive. For me, the big question was and is how we can preserve the foundations for a good life, today and in the future. Some people also call this "intergenerational equity". The beauty of my job is also that it never gets boring, even after many years. Because there is so much going on in this field, new topics and questions keep popping up to deal with

Confidence is sometimes lacking when we talk about the future
About Thomas Hajduk

Residence: Düsseldorf

Birthplace: Zellin, Poland

With Vorwerk since: 09/2020

Business division: Vorwerk & Co. KG

Department: Corporate Communications

Function: Specialist Sustainability

Previous employers: Bertelsmann SE & Co. KG, Ministry of the Economy of North Rhine-Westphalia, University of St. Gallen, adelphi consult GmbH

Fun fact: Part-time cat content producer

Motto: We can do it!

Media tip: The book "Factfulness: Wie wir lernen, die Welt so zu sehen, wie sie wirklich ist" (Factfulness – How we learn to see the world as it really is) by statistician and scientist Hans Rosling. Why? Because the author promotes a reasonable world view based on facts and thus gives courage for the future!

And in your private life? How do you deal with the issue of sustainability away from your desk?

Thomas: I am certainly not a poster child for a consistently sustainable lifestyle. I eat meat occasionally, and I don't completely avoid flying. But I try to consume sensibly and find alternatives where possible. So a city trip by plane can turn into a train journey with an interesting stopover. Sure, on the trip to Japan, trains and ships were not an option, and convincing our cats to eat a vegetarian diet is also rather difficult (laughs). In other situations, however, there are good ways to make your everyday life more sustainable without having to miss out on anything.

Speaking of travel: where do you see the sustainability journey headed for Vorwerk? Where will we be in 2025?

Thomas: For me, climate change is the biggest social challenge of this decade. It would be a strong signal for climate protection if the products of Vorwerk's "green brands" were to become completely climate-neutral by 2025, from production to use to recycling. This would be in the best tradition of previous product qualities such as durability, energy efficiency and reparability.

Let's say I rented a huge billboard in the center of Wuppertal and you could write something on it. What would your message be?

Thomas: In that case, one word would suffice: "confidence”. Because that's what's sometimes lacking when we talk about the future.

If you have any questions or suggestions about sustainability at Vorwerk, please comment on this article or contact Thomas directly.

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