Conversation with Christophe Almeida Direito, Sr. Corporate Responsibility & Real Estate Manager21 June 2022
Entirely reorganised in 2021, the Corporate Responsibility & Real Estate division is the result of a far-seeing strategic vision that has been accompanying IBSA and its President Arturo Licenziati since the very beginning. The division reports directly to the general management and, as the name suggests, is made up of two great “souls”: Real Estate, i.e. everything related to the projects of buildings, offices, production sites; and Corporate Responsibility, i.e. the area more closely related to sustainability. To coordinate all these complex and critical activities in IBSA, we find Christophe Almeida Direito, Senior Corporate Responsibility & Real Estate Manager.
HOW HAS THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY EVOLVED IN IBSA?
I’ve been working in IBSA for over twenty years and, in this company, evolution is a standard feature. IBSA has grown very rapidly – and continues to do so – and this entails an increase in complexity, as well as the need to have increasingly innovative tools available. In recent years, we have heard more and more often about sustainability, a value that has always been transversal across all of IBSA’s projects and activities. In fact, the foresight of our President Arturo Licenziati has always ensured that the company had a constant spotlight on the environmental and social sustainability aspects. The crowning element of this vision is an ad hoc department dealing precisely with sustainability, which IBSA has now decided to establish.
HOW DOES THE CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY & REAL ESTATE DEPARTMENT WORK?
The department where I work is a cross division of the company and is based on the dialogue and interaction between the various departments. Real Estate – that is, the division managing the company’s real estate portfolio, which I was already in charge of – has now been combined with all sustainability related activities. We are building a great team, drawing on all departments, with a representative for each division acting as a spokesperson for their own sustainability projects and initiatives. In actual fact, it’s nothing new: when planning its activities, each department – within its own competence – always manages to “operate in a sustainable way”. Sharing these plans, interacting, discussing, exchanging views and bringing together in a single team those who follow these initiatives: this is the structure we are giving to the department I manage.
When talking about sustainability within a company, three objectives should be borne in mind; they can be summarised in the acronym ESG, which stands for Environment, Social and Governance – or the 3 pillars of sustainability. These represent the three fundamental factors for verifying, measuring and supporting the commitment in terms of sustainability of a company or organization:
- “E” for Environment, that represents the environmental criteria, which evaluate the way a company behaves within the context where it operates, as well as within the environment in general;
- “S” for Social, that is, the criteria relating to social impact, which assess the impact and the relationship with the territory and the people, employees, suppliers, customers and, in general, the communities with which the company operates or is connected;
- “G” for Governance, which concerns the issues of corporate management inspired by good practices and ethical principles.
IBSA is already active and very advanced in every area: from the research of materials and energy sources to be used in production to the design of spaces to welcome its People, starting from the vision of well-being in the design and conception phase of each project.
The aspect that I feel closest is that of well-being, and I can say that at IBSA, compared to many other companies, we are above average in achieving the objectives set by the “S” of ESG.
The Cosmos production site in Lugano, inaugurated last July, is an example: far from simply being a new facility, it’s a redevelopment and construction project for an entire district – the CorPharma – where the focus is on both IBSA collaborators and the community of which this project is part. Nice, bright spaces, with smooth surfaces that are pleasing to the eye and the touch… all these choices are dictated by a need for beauty that goes beyond the aesthetic sense, a need to give our People an environment characterised by an extreme attention to detail, one working in which means generating well-being, and consequently making production places more pleasant, and therefore more fruitful. Like Cosmos, several IBSA offices and plants will be refurbished (or are already undergoing renovations) under the same philosophy.
IBSA FOUNDS ITS WORK ON ITS PILLARS “PERSON, INNOVATION, QUALITY AND RESPONSIBILITY”. WHICH OF THESE DO YOU FEEL CLOSEST TO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES?
All four are important and present in what we do. Pursuing sustainability is an act of Responsibility towards the planet, towards People – IBSA collaborators, as well as the communities where we operate – and towards future generations. It’s the desire to return an added value that goes beyond the mere production of drugs and, to do so, we must have Quality tools, capable of introducing a real and tangible Innovation.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE HUMAN FACTOR PLAY IN YOUR EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES?
A critical one. Being sustainable is not an activity that begins and ends at a given moment, which is completed and then abandoned. Sustainability is a path, it’s a way of thinking and acting that must always accompany us, following the evolution of the company and any external circumstance. And the Person plays an essential role, since each of us can make their own contribution, inside and outside the working context, at any time. Individual mobility, for example, can be a starting point: if we all decide to travel by bike, if possible, or to leave the car at home and walk to the office, we would all benefit, and everyone would have given their own contribution. The idea of sustainability that we have at IBSA is an approach to change, a drive for improvement. However, it’s not easy to implement sustainability just by expecting everyone to decide to adopt a certain behaviour. This is why the other critical aspect is communication. Telling that projects like Cosmos are born from a vision shared since the beginning of IBSA and aimed at doing something positive – welcoming and functional spaces, redevelopment of a neighbourhood, attention to materials, etc. – helps raise awareness on the issue and involve people, making them feel at the centre of what we do, of the changes we make.
IN CONCLUSION, IF YOU HAD TO GIVE YOURSELF A PIECE OF ADVICE 20 YEARS AGO, ON YOUR FIRST DAY OF WORK AT IBSA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
To be open to infinite possibilities, because IBSA is a running train that never stops. When I started my experience in this company, I never imagined that I would be where I am now. Beyond my personal satisfaction, I am referring in particular to the growth of the company I have witnessed, as well as its evolution, while embracing new challenges and projects with passion and enthusiasm. And this offers new possibilities to those lucky enough to take part in this journey, in a path full of constant incentives.