Sustainable Leader: Inger Heinke
Meet Inger, one of our role models within Sustainable Leadership who works as Sales Director for Cartonboard, USA.
Inger is based in New York but spends a large part of her time travelling around the country. She started working at Billerud in 2016 and has also worked in leadership roles in other forestry companies for more than 25 years. Being a leader is something she always wanted to do.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a sustainable leader?
For me, it’s really about enabling a very high functional team to execute on a very clear strategy with meaningful value. We have a very clear mission, we know where we want to be and what our goal is, and that is my compass. My job is to help create the journey, support the journey, remove the obstacles and make sure that everybody is empowered to accomplish their goals. If we achieve our goals, and we feel proud and happy and have fun - then I have done a god job.
Being a manager is a big responsibility. What do you find challenging in the role?
“I would say it’s a challenge having enough time to listen openly, because we have a lot of work to do and it has also been a particularly challenging year. We plan our days, we have our team meetings and our travel, and the easiest path is to define what we are going to do and follow that without listening to any potential change, but I think that teams only evolve if they are ready to accept change or are prepared to listen to new ideas. You can only really listen openly if you are prepared to change your mind.”
What do you do to recover/re-energise?
“I need to start my day by waking up my brain. The first thing I do every morning is the New York Times crossword, I haven’t actually missed a day for years. I also try to do yoga every single day because I think it’s important to start with a calm body. I spend a lot of time with my daughter and granddaughter and I like playing golf.”
What is the most important thing for you in your leadership?
“Safety is always number one. It’s not that obvious with the roles that we have, but there are also safety considerations in our jobs, especially with the pandemic and travel. I guess there is also a health and safety aspect in terms of managing stress, that is something we all have to manage very carefully.
It is also important in my role as a leader to make sure that we have the tools required to accomplish our goals. If some tools are missing, I need to create them, or get hold of them, so that we have the tools needed to accomplish our goals. And winning is important, because when you win collectively as a team it is very empowering, as it feels good and makes you happy.”
What makes you proud of working at Billerud?
“It makes me proud to work at a company that has such a focus on principles. It has a very strong long-term outlook. I am proud of how we work with sustainability, both environmentally but also financially. And the way that we embrace and empower our employees and recognise our employees is also very sustainable. Our intern programs, the fact that we have so many women working in our business and the fact that we’ve got so many young people in our business, I’m very proud of all that. The other thing is our products, I think they are fantastic.”