How I got to start working for Bayer
With this article I want to talk about my personal story at Bayer showcasing how much I have experienced openness and inclusion on my way and what I take away from it. I will also spotlight on our recently started Inclusion & Diversity program which includes a focus area dedicated to further improved inclusion of people with disabilities. My journey started in 1994 – I was finishing high school and playing my first year in the German National Team Sitting Volleyball dreaming of my first Paralympics participation in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. In the National Team I learned that the structures in the Bayer Leverkusen sports club are highly inclusive which was rather an exception in Germany at that time. Getting access to top Coaches, Physiotherapists and well-equipped sports venues was what I aspired to make my Paralympics dream come true and that marked my start into the Bayer sport and corporate world. Today I am six Paralympics participations and successful 25+ years in Corporate live further ahead which from my perspective has its strong roots in inclusiveness.
Why Procurement is such a fantastic place to be
I began my career at Bayer with a vocational training and after that started to work in Procurement. While at this time Procurement as a first stent was more a coincidence, I meanwhile can firmly say that Procurement became a true passion. In the past 25 years I worked in various Procurement roles experiencing all aspects of the function. In simple terms we are there to connect our internal needs with the external offering. What sounds so simple in the first place requires many pieces to come together.
• At first it is about truly understanding the business requirements through dialog with stakeholders in the company. Gaining their trust and becoming an advisor who is consulted early on in the demand definition is not always an easy game.
• One element of gaining that trust is to demonstrate that you truly understand the supplier market offering and how it connects to the requirements defined. Aligning this across an entire stakeholder base in one specific category then makes for a good category strategy.
• This strategy then guides the day-to-day sourcing activities where negotiation capabilities are of outmost importance.
• And finally, we manage ongoing supplier relationships towards delivering their full potential for both parties. Ongoing high quality delivery performance combined with continuous improvement and the ambitious never-ending search for innovation and business growth opportunities are values propositions we drive together with our stakeholders and external partners.
All of this happens in a global dynamic environment in which supplier markets change rapidly and as well do our requirements. For me this wide range of activities combined with the Leadership dimension gets me up in the morning and gave me the opportunity to grow individually as well as professionally.
How does it feel to work at Bayer
While the company´s noble mission “Health for all and hunger for none” in itself is already a compelling argument to stay with one and the same company for 25+ years there is much more tied to it for me personally. The sports and the corporate dimension together created a strong real bond to Bayer for me. Rooted its 75 years legacy of support of sports for people with disability I had the privilege to benefit from the fantastic infrastructure provided by the Bayer Leverkusen sports club enabled my growth as an athlete. This is unique and, in its breadth, and continuity stands out from all other companies in Germany. Along this journey inclusivity has always been the foundation. From the beginning in 1994 till today I (as all other athletes with disabilities) have been treated equal with non-disabled athletes. While this is maybe considered standard in today´s world it was shocking for me at that time to hear in the National Team that athletes in other parts of Germany still had to fight to even get access to the Physiotherapy centres which were used by non-disabled athletes. Also working at Bayer I experienced the same openness and inclusivity. Throughout my entire career I never experienced to be disadvantaged due to my disability yet solely being evaluated and hired based on the skills I could bring to the table. Today I am leading a global team of trusted Professionals enabling world class Research for our three business units (Consumer Health, Pharmaceuticals and Crop Science) through our external supplier network. Leading in innovation in today´s rapidly VUCA world can´t be built purely on in house capabilities anymore. We enable our R&D teams to complement their capabilities with external partners from across the world.
More focus on Inclusion & Diversity (I&D)
As research widely confirms companies with high standards on Inclusion & Diversity are not only more successful, but they are also proven to be greater places to be for employees. At the end of February 2021, Bayer set itself a number of goals in the area of I&D. We then established five business resource groups (BRGS) focused on various dimensions of our Inclusion & Diversity agenda. One of the goals is to increase the proportion of people with disabilities in the workforce to more than five percent by 2030 in countries where this is defined and recorded by law (Bayer currently has around 2,150 employees with disabilities worldwide. This represents approximately 2.1 percent of the total workforce; in Germany, for example, the figure is currently 4.3 percent). Since last year we then continuously strengthened the BRG focusing on the inclusion of people with disabilities. The basis was to build country specific working groups picking up improvement opportunities based on the specific country context (for example barrier free building access, employer branding for equality, brand advertising of our products). The core team also developed a roadmap creating awareness within our employee base and defining clear actions for the upcoming years. To benefit from learnings of other companies and to underpin our commitment for this agenda Bayer has also joined the global initiative “The Valuable 500,” which advocates greater inclusion of people with disabilities in business enterprises.
How it all ties together for me and what I wish to happen in the future
Through my career in Paralympic sports, I experienced how big the power of inclusion can be. Every Paralympics hosted across the world so far has drawn the attention of people within the host country and around the World towards mind-blowing capabilities of people with disabilities helping to shift the pattern from feeling pity towards appreciation of individuals and teams stretching their personal boarders to be successful. This open approach to meet each other with no assumptions and enter into dialog is what I wish to further flourish in the corporate as well as the societal environment in general. And I will contribute to make it happen. Within Bayer I am the sponsor of our relationship with “The valuable 500” and I am designing an awareness campaign for our leaders which invites them to enter dialogs with Paralympic Athletes.
Through my passion for sport, I got to know this awesome company Bayer - which I am now already working for incredible 25 years. Right after school I moved to the German training center for Sitting Volleyball in Leverkusen and combined that with an apprenticeship program at Bayer. Coincidentally after finishing my apprenticeship I started my career in the Procurement department. Meanwhile Procurement developed into my second passion – connecting the internal needs with the offering of a dynamic supplier marketplace is something which I truly enjoy. Throughout my time at Bayer I did work in several Procurement roles, from individual team member to team lead to department head. Most of the time close to Manufacturing and since July last year supporting our R&D department with external services. Working in a global environment and leading a global team is a true inspiration for me as it holds so much diversity. At the same time, it has been a privilege to get all the support needed to develop as a Paralympic athlete competing in six Paralympic games with the German National Team and winning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. Combining the insights from performance sport with Leadership in my professional life has always been fascinating.