Key to Innovation is Diversity

Published in Thought lines Issue one - August 2015

I am from The Republic of India and was born in the southern state of Kerala, however, as a child, I grew up in many different multicultural cities and states. I think this has made me adaptable and given me an insight into how things work differently in other places. I was always curious, always wanted to explore, and always questioned things. I perceived things from different perspectives as I was growing up. This is still important in my work today.

I continued my international experience through my work and educational experiences in the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Malta, and currently work at the Maire Tecnimont Innovation Center in the Netherlands. I saw how every culture can be different. I quickly learned that even though people come from different cultural backgrounds, it is really their different skills that make them unique.

If you understand this power in individuals, you understand how diversity can enrich your organisation and projects.

At Stamicarbon this diversity is important because it brings different opinions to the table. As we have clients from different cultures, our diversity enables us to understand our clients and their needs better.

Our diversity is of course also essential in our innovation processes. I believe that whatever ideas we have, we can always optimize them and strive for perfection. In order for our ideas to evolve over time, we need to have different ways of thinking. We need people who think in different ways. Different kinds of people with different histories that can nourish the whole team. The key is to structure and finding a correlation between the ways of thinking.

My goal is to better understand our clients and anticipate their needs. I manage multi-disciplinary project team members and other stakeholders by liaising with the project parties. I support ideas to be evaluated and act as a Project Manager in driving innovation projects once these are promoted to the innovation pipeline: from business feasibility, development, and validation to timely commercialization and implementation. I strive to develop ideas with clients because sooner or later we may need a client to do the design validation. This is part of our guarantee, what we deliver is proven to work. By involving a client in our innovation process we not only gain new insights, but also enable the client to take ownership of the process.

By starting with a conversation to understand our client’s needs, we can involve them in our process of innovation. They become part of the process and therefore help with the validation of the new innovations. I also create and work with a pool of external diversified resources in cooperation with 3rd parties e.g. universities, engineering companies, and potential clients in order to mitigate limitations of internal resources; in terms of innovation we call it “Open Innovation”.

Looking to the future, innovation in our industry is essential. With the population of the world rising, there is a greater demand for food.

As seen in the past this increased demand for food can only be met by increased demand for fertilizers. With this increase, new and more efficient innovative solutions are needed. We must use less energy and make all processes better for the environment.

It is also interesting to talk about risk. Innovation always involves risk. Our task however is to manage that risk with the diverse insights within our company and from our clients. In my past experience as an entrepreneur, I learned how this can help turn risks into calculated risks. This I believe is part of the Stamicarbon entrepreneurial mindset.

Innovation is critical for us, it’s in our DNA, it drives growth.

It is not one person or one way of thinking, rather it is about many people and collective thinking.

The key driver is diversity.