FOSSI | A Sustainable Future: FOSSI Scholars Hear from Industry Leaders

A Sustainable Future: FOSSI Scholars Hear from Industry Leaders

February 7, 2022

As part of the AIChE’s Fundamentals of Success program, The Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) hosted its first virtual live meeting for FOSSI scholars on January 19th. The topic was Sustainability with the goal to inform and energize students on contributions of chemistry to sustainability and potential career opportunities in the field.

Attended by more than 120 scholars and sponsors, the event kicked off with a panel discussion among industry leaders from FOSSI sponsor companies.  Moderated by Anne Kolton, ACC’s Executive Vice President for Sustainability and Market Outreach, with Eunice Heath, Dow’s Corporate Director of Sustainability; Jayme Leita, Eastman’s Director of Circular Economy Integration; and Diego Di Martino, ADM’s Sustainability Manager for LatAm; each speaker shared their personal journey, “coolest job,” their perspective on the huge number of opportunities and money available in sustainability, and the satisfaction of making the world a better place.

Words from industry leaders

Jayme Leita told scholars that there is “no other job I would rather be doing right now…I absolutely love it.  I literally wake up knowing I’m going to change the world. Knowing what I do today could really affect what happens in the future and in a positive way so that’s really exciting.”

Eunice Heath shared the thrill of developing innovation products that address global challenges – “saving the world one product at a time.” She also addressed work/life balance which she characterized as really more like “work/life integration and communicating effectively.” 

Anne Kolton pointed out that if scholars have the travel bug, “the chemical industry operates on a worldwide basis, and almost everyone I know has had the opportunity to live in multiple places across their careers and get that extra exciting opportunity that not all industries might offer.”

Diego di Martino, tuning in from Sao Paolo, Brazil, told scholars that experiencing diverse cultures will “make you a different person and enrich your outlook, experience and understanding” and shared “the reward of “bringing different points of view to common ground.”

Panelists agreed on essential need for companies to also practice “social sustainability,” by providing a great place to work, treating all employees fairly and a being a positive influence in their communities.

Scholars enthusiastically joined in the discussion, asking leaders what they could do to get an edge on the job market, about opportunities to see the world and work/life balance. Following the panel, scholars were invited to participate in 20-minute breakout sessions, led by over a dozen FOSSI sponsor company volunteers.  The next virtual meeting will take place on April 14th on Communications.

Key Takeaways

  •  You don’t have to know what you want to do, but you have to work hard and learn; be diverse in your skill sets and you’ll get chosen for the big jobs in the future just by doing that.
  • Pursue professional certifications that can propel you into different roles.
  • Be the best at what you know and your company will need you to share your knowledge with different offices around the world. Don’t put limitations on where you will go.
  • Find a mentor or two and create an employee development plan with roles and opportunities you’d like to have.
  • Be open and curious. Get to know people everywhere you go and learn about different cultures.
  • Hot Majors: chemical, mechanical & electrical engineering, IT & computer science, LCA (life cycle assessment), research & development, policy & government affairs, and marketing.