Martin, in both your personal and professional life you place a big emphasis on connecting with the younger generation. Why is that so important to you and what advice would you give them?
Further development means looking at things from a different angle! If we want to have a better world, a better society to leave for future generations, we need to start being better companies. The younger generation puts a stronger emphasis on issues that are not traditionally perceived as important for a company. They are the ones who will make the organization different.
However, I encourage the younger generation: raise your hand! If you want to change anything, take the lead, show initiative, and be constructive! Don’t wait for others, express your interests, and ask for feedback – you are your own mentor! Good things never come from staying in your comfort zone. If we want to succeed, we must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. An easy way to pick the wrong career is to put your imagination above your interests and identity. The most motivating job isn’t the one that makes you look important, but the one that makes you feel alive. Meaningful work is not about impressing others. It is about expressing your values!
You have worked for Evonik for 25 years in numerous positions and in different countries such as the U.S., Germany, Argentina, and Brazil. Now you are the President of Evonik Mexico. How has the perspective of your job and the work you do changed throughout your career?
After becoming Evonik’s President in Mexico, my focus switched more from taking care of the business to taking care of the people, having a moral obligation to make sure people look forward to coming to work in the morning. When everyone is part of the decision-making process, people start feeling like they belong. It increases their commitment and engagement. We must care about our people, listen so that we understand them, and serve them with humility! Looking back on my professional career, I am grateful for all the opportunities that the organization has offered me. But at some point, it is you who must create your own story and your career within the company. My advice: “Whatever you do, do it with passion!”
The workplace is constantly evolving. In your experience, what do you believe people are currently looking for in their careers and places of work?
Employees want more from a company than a traditional compensation package! It’s much more about a “mental salary” and other key elements of modern compensation and benefit packages beyond the pure salary. Everyone deserves to work for good leaders! One of the sincerest forms of respect is listening to what others have to say. In healthy cultures, quality of life is valued and having a life beyond your work is celebrated. We should encourage more people to put their well-being before their work. I see diversity and mutual understanding as a key to corporate success. That means fostering creativity, trying out new things, and better understanding customer needs.
You have your professional roots in the operative business and you relate your experience to your current role. Beyond your job, you are committed to society in a variety of ways. What drives you?
I am delighted to represent Evonik in many associations like ANIQ, the German-Mexican chamber of Commerce, the German School, the German Culture Foundation and the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City. With the help of these associations, we can create cultural and social opportunities and make them available to our employees and families. Creating added value – that’s what drives me! During the pandemic, it was quite inspiring to see the level of energy, engagement, leadership, empathy and motivation in our local organizations to improve health, well-being and caring for others. Our struggles determine our successes. The burdens that seem heavy today usually feel lighter tomorrow. Enthusiasm is boundless, time is finite. And together is always better!