Interview with Sarah Egger

Project Manager at Schwarz Druck

Sarah Egger is a project manager at Schwarz Druck and fills another important role in the company in addition to her actual function, which she has been performing for over a year. We are keen to find out more about her tasks, her attitude and her personality, so we interviewed her.

Sarah, how long have you been with Schwarz Druck?
Since October 1st, 2021.

Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? What did you do before you joined Schwarz Druck?
I come from Vorarlberg, Austria. I was born and raised there. I completed my general qualification for university entrance at a tourism school and then I started traveling. I explored New Zealand, spent 8 months in Australia and had a really exciting time there.

What did you do in Australia?
I worked on farms near Brisbane. I built fences, cut down trees, drove tractors and worked with horses and cows. Pure cowboy lifestyle…

Then I went back, got a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Management at the Management Center in Innsbruck, and now I’m studying Energy and Sustainability Management part-time at the FH Kufstein and I am currently writing my Master’s thesis.

Wow, you’ve already experienced and achieved a lot. What area do you work in now?
In internal sales in the value and security printing area.

What do you particularly like about the company?
The family-like atmosphere and also the option to develop yourself further. That is really strongly encouraged at Schwarz Druck. Especially when you’re as young as I am. And I have the ambition to constantly develop myself. I want to learn something because I’m very inquisitive. We now also have the opportunity here to do further training over 14 months. The training is in communications and digitization, which is also very interesting. At the moment, I’m a bit behind because I have a lot of day-to-day business for the Christmas period, but I’ll catch up when things are calmer again. That’s another thing I like about Schwarz Druck: You can be very flexible. The other day, I was talking about my job at Schwarz Druck in my personal environment. And while I was talking about it, I realized how much I enjoy working there every day and what a luxury it is to be in such a situation. I wake up in the morning and look forward to the job. I have the best colleagues, I’m always supported, and I have many opportunities to grow. As you can see, I can’t stop raving about it (laughs).

You’re also really glowing while you’re narrating. Really great to see.
If we now turn the perspective to the customers: What added value do you think they get as a Schwarz Druck customer?
We offer top quality. We are very responsive to our customers. We have that certain something. Especially when it comes to sustainability, we work hard on this and have a strong focus on this value.

How do you identify with Schwarz Druck?
We are always evolving. Especially through our new CSO Marco Castiglioni, further development has taken root in the company. He is driving things forward strongly at Schwarz Druck and that is simply fun. That’s very important in this industry in particular, especially when it comes to the topic of digitalization. And I really appreciate this forward movement. The company is simply very open, also for what I want to create here – to expand sustainability. 

That’s nice. Because the approach is not new, but I’m sure some companies don’t even think about it yet.  That’s exactly how it is. More and more are coming, of course, and the large companies in particular are now already being forced by the state to submit sustainability reports.

We are still too small for the state, but nevertheless we are already moving in this direction.

Is there anything you think Schwarz Druck can do better? 
It’s exactly what we’re working on right now. We have developed a strategy for the next 5 years that gives us clear goals and milestones, all of which we naturally want to achieve. The strategy also has a name: DRIVE-27. Drive-27 will accompany us for the next 5 years. In addition, we are building up marketing in a big way and have very clear objectives there as well.

What untapped potential do you currently see at Schwarz Druck

How did you come to be involved in the field of sustainability?
Through my studies in energy and sustainability management and my personal interests. I simply stand behind the topic and realized that it can be implemented here.

Has that always been your big area of interest? 
I just do things. I actually make big life decisions quickly, painless, and easy. Actually, I wanted to go to work and study on the side. Then a friend introduced me to the program because she knew that I would like to do a master’s degree. The personal interest was there too, of course, but it has developed much more in the last 2 years. The sustainable awareness and action in the private sphere has strengthened through the study.

That’s also a good story behind it. And if you can develop passion for it, as you seem to have, it’s great.
Yes, definitely.

What do you think characterizes a sustainable company
Very important: Sustainability must be lived. Not only by employees, but also by senior management. Through that you can avoid the issue of green washing – claiming to be sustainable but not actually living it. For me, it’s not just the ecological aspects that are important, but also the social aspects. You don’t have to take huge steps right away, but in planning you should always try to develop and live that. Then you are sustainable.

What have you already been able to implement at Schwarz Druck?
Because my job is currently in internal sales, I only have a certain amount of time available at the moment, so there are still a lot of little things. Less waste, for example, that the calendars are delivered in a different form. This saves us about half a kilo of plastic waste. I also make sure that everyone turns off the lights and screens.

But what I have achieved above all: The issue of sustainability has moved to the forefront. It’s on the minds of every Schwarz Druck employee. When it comes to sustainability, everyone turns their heads to me. It is firmly anchored. We defined our values this year as part of our strategy. Sustainability is one of them. This value has to be lived and that starts with every single employee. I try to create awareness and make a difference.

Currently, we are not yet forced by the government to provide sustainability reporting, as we are still too small to do so. But we have set up this position anyway because it is important to us. We do it because we want to. In my opinion, a huge success. 

What do you plan to do about sustainability in the next few years?
I have many ideas and many documents in my drawer. When I’m sitting in class, I always have a document open: “Ideas for Schwarz Druck”. I write down everything I could imagine for Schwarz Druck. Lots of little things but also some bigger projects.

For example, reducing CO2 emissions not only from our print products, but from the entire company. That will be a major optimization process. The topic of e-mobility is also to be promoted more. For example, we will be getting one e-charging station this year. I also have “work-bicycles” and other social projects in mind, which is also a great thing. Or also waste reduction: I’m already trying to reduce the subsidies for our printing and processing machines.

Sustainability is actually already a hackneyed topic. You hear “sustainability,” “recycling,” etc. everywhere. Which of these is green washing?
It’s hard to tell the difference. At some point, you get tired of the topic. And we really have to make our employees in the company feel that what we’re doing is sustainable sustainability in the sense of long-lasting sustainability. If we convey that correctly, everyone will support it. 

Of course, the plans are not yet the goal, but they are the right way to go. After all, I’m writing my master’s thesis on the topic of “Sustainable behavior of employees”.

How are your projects received by the team? Are they listening to you?
At first, I had the feeling that my colleagues were thinking, “Oh, this topic again.” But everyone is really behind me. One example is the calendars. Every year they come rolled up in a big plastic package. Totally stupid, you’re transporting air. I now had the idea to order them folded. This was well received everywhere and will be implemented next year immediately. I noticed from the uncomplicated reaction that we are all pulling in the same direction.

Or also a nice anecdote with our Mr. Castiglioni. He arrived the other day with a single-use To Go Cup. I told him that there were better options and his reaction was: “Okay, I won’t take any single-use cups anymore”. I thought that was really good. 

It’s still going to be a tough job, especially in terms of CO2 reduction. But I know we’ll get there.

It’s probably not process changes that are inconvenient or involve a lot of work, right? It’s probably just the changeover more than anything else?
That’s why we start slowly. We don’t expect all the facts and figures all at once. So it’s not a lot of extra work for the individuals then.

You have now been dealing with this responsible task for a some time and have made a lot of progress. If you look at other companies that are slowly becoming more aware of the responsibility and also want to change sustainably: Where could/should they start first? What can be easily implemented?
It is very important to set goals that you can achieve. Small steps. Save energy, reduce waste, create sustainable awareness among employees. Slowly grow with this topic and implement it step-by-step.

It’s perfectly okay if two or three of the goals you set aren’t achieved. But then you should ask yourself what you can do better next time. In principle, however, realistic goals are the be-all and end-all.

Do you believe that ecological commitment can also achieve economic success?
Absolutely. Of course, the two goals often conflict. But in principle, yes.

The government expects it, the customer, and the contact person. If they then have to implement everything in one fell swoop, it is inefficient and very expensive. That’s why my tip again and again is to slowly implement things that offset each other. If a customer is willing to pay more for this CO2 offset, we will find ourselves in a situation where it also makes economic sense. But a lot of things we will simply implement because we do it out of conviction. There are certainly customers who appreciate this and therefore feel even more comfortable with us. Many also want to take green steps. With the right partners at your side, it’s simply fun.

What do you want from the government in terms of support?
I would like to see meaningful support. Support for things that are not used for green washing. I.e. if a company saves a lot of CO2 by optimizing its processes, it should be rewarded for this. This is already happening in part, but in my opinion still too little.

How does environmental thinking accompany you in your private life?
In almost everything. My consumer behavior in particular has changed enormously. I think about consumer decisions more often, for much longer, and then often decide against a purchase. I buy almost everything second-hand. From cooking pots to clothes. I have also changed my diet. I consciously consume less CO2-intensive foods.

Now it’s the Christmas season, when people are giving lots of presents again. For me, it’s all about giving time. I wish for time. And in turn, I like to give time. That is the most sustainable thing in life. That’s what you can live off of. I also try to pass this way of thinking on to my family.

Now we have learned a lot about your career, your job and your exemplary attitude. Tell us something else about yourself. What does your perfect day look like?
Good question: Spending time in nature, with family, friends and good food.

Is there anything in your life that you really want to do?
I’ve already done things that I really wanted to do. For example, no one can take the experience in Australia away from me, it was great. If I want to do something, I just do it. For example, I would like to get to know Europe better. Unfortunately, I have seen very little of it. The great thing about Europe is that you can reach pretty much everything by train. I love to travel and I’m very adventurous. I inherited that from my parents.

Do you have anything else on your mind that you would like to share with the readers?
Everyone can make a contribution to making the world a little bit greener. Everyone can make a difference. Every step is a step forward. And small steps can make a big difference.

Dear Sarah, that was very inspiring with you. I liked it very much. I wish you every success in pursuing your goals! You have the necessary strength and assertiveness and a company that you and therefore also like to develop. Enjoy the opportunity and the achievement of your goals!

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