Since joining Bayer as a scientist in 1992, Dr. Haakan Jonsson has seen many shifts, from a growth in innovation to increased digitalization. Describing Covestro as ‘nimble, progressive and focused,’ our president and incoming chairman of the board for Covestro U.S. says that we’re in an ideal position to succeed in these changing times.
What are your top three priorities in your new role?
Last year, we proved our commitment to our customers and the polyurethane industry when we announced a record €1.5 billion investment in a new MDI plant at our Baytown, Texas, site. My first priority is to ensure that this project gets the resources it needs to be a success. For a project of this size, everyone at Covestro has to pitch in.Secondly, I want to drive digitalization initiatives in North America so that we can operate more efficiently as well as serve our customers better.
On a more personal note, I have been very involved internally at Covestro since my return to Pittsburgh, but another priority of mine is to strengthen my ties outside of Covestro. I would like to continue building closer relationships with our community – by driving corporate social responsibility and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives. I am also committing to playing a more active role within our industry organizations, such as the American Chemistry Council and the National Association of Manufacturers.
How has Covestro developed during your time with the company and where do you see us heading in the future?
The Covestro of today is very different to a few years ago. Day one of the new organization was a chance to evaluate and make some changes. We’re not done reinventing ourselves yet, but we are well on the way.
At Covestro, while there’s still work to do, we are much more nimble, progressive and focused, with a clear purpose and vision. We know that to be successful as a company, we must embrace different points of view, experiences and perspectives. That’s why we are cultivating a truly inclusive culture built on innovation.
What key trends are currently affecting the North American region right now and how is Covestro geared to address them?
Digitalization in the chemical industry is an important trend, and Covestro wants to be one of the leaders in this area. There are three different areas of digitalization that we are working on: digital operations, the digital customer experience and new digital business models.
We’re also very supportive of sustainability initiatives. By 2025, 80% of our R&D will contribute to achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. On top of that, we’re a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), which aims to better manage and minimize litter, especially in our oceans. Together with more than 35 companies around the world, the AEPW is investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to mature waste-to-value concepts into economically viable solutions.
The shift in mobility models is another critical trend, with electric and autonomous vehicles on the horizon. All three of our business units are focused on these changes in mobility – working with our customers and OEMs to develop solutions for changing needs such as lightweighting, durability, electric batteries and insulation – that will meet mobility demands in this new landscape.
What sets us apart from our competitors?
I’ve worked across many regions with Covestro, and the following has held true everywhere: Our people, our product knowledge and our excellence and professionalism in customer service is unrivalled.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I’m very proud to work for Covestro, and it makes me happy to play a small part in making this company even better. From the people I work with, to the products we develop, I feel privileged to be part of something so special. I’m also very grateful that Covestro has provided my family and me with so many interesting opportunities and experiences over the years.