“We want to involve the customers, show real solutions and make sure they are with us on this”

The Swedish Institute Management Programme is designed for change-makers focusing on lasting success through responsible leadership and sustainable business. One of this years’ participant in the programme for Northern Europe is Katarzyna Dulko-Gaszyna who works for IKEA in Poland.

What does your current work entail?
– I am the sustainability manager for IKEA retail Poland. I studied political science and environmental sciences and management in Poland and Germany. When I came back to Poland I got a job with an international company because I knew languages. I still wanted to work with sustainability and after a while they actually allowed me to do that. I made my own position and learnt the job. Seven years ago I came to IKEA.

How do you see yourself contributing to sustainable development?
– Even though this is a profession it really is a passion. But today, you need to have the technical background; in waste management, energy management, circular economy, renewable energy, consumer data, market insights and so forth. My contribution is that since we are a big company we can really make a change.

Where do you see yourself in the future – what’s your goal?
– I’ve developed from a single expert to a manager of a team of experts. I’m still learning about different aspects of being a leader. Learning how to empower and encourage my team members and to make a good example. I see myself develop within sustainability but I’m also open for other leadership levels.

Can you tell us about the project that you are doing within this year’s SIMP programme?
– IKEA have the ambition and obligation as a company to eliminate harming aspects of the business. Two examples are over-consumption and single-use plastic items. IKEA has a pledge to stop selling and offering single-use plastics by 2020. My project is to make this happen a little faster in Poland. We want to involve the customers, show real solutions and make sure they are with us on this.

SIMP – how did you learn about it and what made you apply?
– A colleague who is also a SIMP-alumni told me. She called me and she said that it was a really great experience for her and that I should apply. That’s how I learnt about it.

Has SIMP helped you level up as a change maker already, with one module still to do?
– The things I consider the most important so far is networking and sharing knowledge and experience. Our challenges are so often connected.
– The second thing is that SIMP is not only about the environment; you learn about human rights, transparency, anti-corruption and such. Things that I don’t usually get to spend much time learning about.
– Thirdly: You learn how to build and group and how to work with that group. That is actually the most valuable insight for me.

Do you think that you will use the network of the group?
– There are so many similarities between us although we have different jobs and backgrounds. I hope we will stay connected because we share an eagerness for these issues and a willingness to change the region.

 And lastly: what will tomorrow’s leaders do different compared to the leaders of today?
– I hope and think that they will have to include all those people that they didn’t include before. There are still a lot of groups in society that don’t have a voice. That will have to change because the value of diversity is so important. Tomorrow’s’ leaders will also have to listen.