Meet Marius Wirtz, our Senior Vice President, PUR Commercial Operations APAC. He might be up early to walk his dog every day, but it’s a thriving business that is truly driving Marius forward.
Previously at Bayer, Marius joined Covestro as Global Head of TPU in 2015, but since January he’s been our Senior Vice President, PUR Commercial Operations APAC. Here he talks about the priorities in his new role, industry trends and why he loves living in the region he has called home since 2003.
Marius, welcome to PUR. How has your first four months been?
Busy and exciting. I set myself the target of visiting the major countries in APAC (Asia-Pacific) within the first quarter, to meet the PUR APAC teams, and to make my first customer visits. I’ve set out the key milestones for the year – that means intensive planning, both globally and with the PUR APAC Leadership team, on our targets and initiatives. It has also been a great opportunity to celebrate the start of the Year of the Dog with the Covestro team and customers.
What are your top three priorities in your new role?
My number one priority is to get to know our customers, partners and employees’ needs, objectives and visions for the future. I want us to deliver value that enables the continuous success of our customers and the PUR business unit. APAC and the chemical industry will be entering a new stage of development in the next decade – one that will be strongly defined by sustainability, digitization and economic transformation. I want to help shape a sustainable strategic position of the polyurethanes business unit here in the long-term, to make best use of these opportunities, and to support our customers’ strategic ambitions. And as our environment evolves rapidly, our ability to innovate and reinvent ourselves becomes crucial. I want to shape a culture that embraces the challenges of the future where we’re innovative, collaborative, adaptive and customer-centric.
How would you describe the main differences between the TPU and the PUR business?
The nature of the TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) business is closely related to the performance plastics industry, which means growth is driven by polymer substitution, application development, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) specification and the development of customized resins. The diversity of applications is also extremely high. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating new business opportunities and market innovations in this environment. The PUR market is less diversified from an application point of view, and long-term growth is strongly driven by sustainability needs. That’s what excites me about the business – the opportunity to enable key global trends, such as energy efficient and safer mobility, low-energy buildings or renewable energy with our PU solutions. In the PU industry, our ambitions for business growth and making the world a better place are truly aligned.
What has your experience of living in the APAC region been like so far?
I’ve been mostly living in Asia since 2003, in Singapore, Shanghai and, for the past 10 years, Hong Kong. The business environment here is so dynamic, optimistic and pragmatic. At this point, I consider myself kind of local.
What are the top trends affecting your industry at the moment, and how is Covestro geared to address these?
Firstly, there’s growth. APAC is set to remain the world’s major engine of wealth creation. Traditionally, the growth of the polyurethane industry is closely aligned with economic growth, and the increasing opportunities for sustainable developments also provides additional growth. Covestro is well positioned to support that growth through our global asset network.
‘Covestro stands to benefit from China’s new direction – and can contribute to its successful realisation’
Then there’s policy transformation in China to provide a better life for the Chinese people in areas such as the environment, healthcare, and education. The impact of the leadership’s vision is clearly felt in the chemical industry and its customer industries. Covestro has always followed global standards for its investments in APAC with regards to safety, energy efficiency and environmental impact. With our strong track record as a responsible investor and relationships with key stakeholders, I’m confident Covestro stands to benefit from China’s new direction – and can contribute to its successful realisation. But I have no illusions the journey will get bumpy at times.
With their young populations, economies such as China and India are embracing digitization, and there is a willingness to experiment. Together with technological advances, this provides an exciting breeding ground to introduce new commercial and digital services to our customers. We are currently developing very exciting digital initiatives that we will introduce step by step.
What would you say are key product differentiators of a company like Covestro?
We offer our customers a wide range and combination of high-quality isocyanates and polyols, but I think our differentiation goes beyond products, in areas such as supply reliability, sharing of market and industry insights, joint innovation and marketing, association work, digital services and sustainability. In the future, we will play an even stronger role in differentiating our value proposition to our customers.
And finally, what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Practically speaking, when I am at home not travelling, it’s my dog, who wants to be walked. But what drives me are people and growth. I love to see our business partners and employees succeed professionally and privately, while making a positive impact to our planet and economic development.