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The project participants were glad to create something lasting and to watch it grow. They worked on the project with great enthusiasm.
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Tan Lac District in the mountainous northwest of Vietnam is difficult to access, even by local standards. It’s true that this country in Southeast Asia has been experiencing a remarkable economic upswing for more than a decade. However, Vietnam’s infrastructure and living conditions can hardly be compared with those of neighboring countries such as Thailand. The inhabitants of the economically underdeveloped Tan Lac District are especially dependent on outside support. In spring 2014, they received just such a helping hand from nearly 70 up-and-coming Evonik Industries professionals.
The Corporate Executive Talents—many of them with several years of management experience under their belts and destined for high-powered positions at Evonik—traveled to this remote mountainous region of Vietnam and rolled up their sleeves. They dragged stones, used shovels and bricklayers’ trowels, and worked together to raise house walls. In just six weeks, they built six homes for six families. Each of the teams, which came from every region of the world, worked hard for a week in oppressive heat and humidity before passing on the baton to the next Team.
The functional houses are only the most visible results of the project. The work also generated a new sense of identification with the employees' own jobs and their employer, team spirit that crossed national boundaries, and lots of inspiration for further work at Evonik. "Besides supporting the local people, our focus was on developing our Talents. We aimed to spur their personal growth by confronting them with a situation outside their comfort zones," says project leader Frank Krüsken from the Executives & Talent Development corporate division, explaining the idea behind the Talent Days. "Instead, we wanted to enrich the development of our talented employees with fresh momentum and to confront our colleagues with a situation that was outside their personal comfort Zone."
Evonik found the right partner for this project: the international aid organization Habitat for Humanity, which has set itself the goal of putting roofs over the heads of people who are experiencing difficult situations in their lives. The joint project created lasting impressions for its participants from Evonik, as evidenced by many positive and very personal feedback messages. So it’s no wonder that the company soon decided to continue this unusual combination of personal development measures and socially beneficial work with another group of Executive Talents in 2015.
Evonik CEO Dr. Klaus Engel, who stopped by in Vietnam to witness the construction efforts and experience the team spirit for himself, is also fully convinced of the project’s benefits both for the local Vietnamese community and Evonik’s top performers. "The project in Vietnam marks a personal achievement for our promising professionals and represents a wonderful opportunity for them to get to grips with the Group’s values in a very individual, hands-on way," he said. Six new homes in the north of Vietnam testify to the visible success of this idea. Other homes will follow in 2015.Read this and other stories in our Sustainability Report 2014