Diversity and Collaboration Fuel Additive Manufacturing at Henkel
As a Henkel employee, I am part of a large, multinational company that operates worldwide with leading innovations, brands, and technologies in three businesses: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care. Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, we have over 50,000 employees, representing 120 nationalities in nearly 80 countries.
Diversity and inclusion are firmly anchored in our corporate culture and are key drivers to our business success. Women make up a significant portion of our workforce, playing important roles in nearly every business function, from product development and operations, to sales and marketing.
From a gender perspective, the chemical industry is definitely not what one would generally consider diverse. But this is beginning to change. In a Chemical & Engineering News survey taken a decade or so ago, only 8.7% of 413 different management positions were held by women. By 2017, when the same study was conducted again, the numbers had shifted dramatically with women holding 32% of positions that have “business responsibility.” Women have also made gains in nearly every other area, including human resources, finance, legal and administration.
Over the past ten years, Henkel has become increasingly interested in the additive manufacturing industry. Three years ago, we made a commitment to enter the space and began exploring various go-to-market strategies. At Formnext 2018, we announced the first formal step in our journey. Since then, we’ve made several more announcements including the acquisition of Molecule Corp.
From a strategic perspective, Molecule was a great fit for Henkel. Molecule provide advanced solutions for 3D printing, impacting many different markets, including medical device, aerospace, automotive and a wide variety of consumer goods. They also supply industrial inkjet solutions.
While that’s important, there has to be a certain amount of chemistry (pardon the pun) between the teams. It’s here that Henkel’s culture proved to be a significant asset.
Molecule has two founders, one of whom is female, Karla Witte, and she has an impressive resume. Her career spans nearly 20 years in the industrial inkjet business, where she worked in executive roles in both product and business development. Karla is the very definition of an intrapreneur and exactly the type of person we wanted to help grow Henkel’s 3D Printing business.
With Henkel’s strong commitment to diversity, evidenced by the number of women in key positions, the team at Molecule felt secure, knowing that everyone on their team would benefit from the acquisition. “There’s so much opportunity at Henkel,” Karla says. “At Molecule, culture was embedded into everything we did. Henkel has a similar philosophy, and from the number of women in key positions, it’s obvious female experience and talent is highly valued. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
We share that excitement at Henkel. Since the acquisition, we revealed our new open materials platform at RAPID 2019 and previously announced collaborations with several manufacturers of 3D printers, including EnvisionTEC, Origin and NewPro3D.
For 3D printing industry to fully scale, it must expand beyond prototyping and into production. To do that, it has to make the leap from model shops and into large organizations across many different vertical markets. Some like automotive and aerospace were also historically male, but others like medical and consumer products are much more diverse.
From my perspective, it’s the perfect time to be a female working in the additive manufacturing industry. From the C-Suite on down, more women are entering the business and making an impact. We’re learning from one another and helping each other grow.
At Henkel in general, and in the 3D Printing business unit specifically, many women are in leadership positions. I manage global marketing and strategy, for instance, and I’m certainly not alone.
- Dr. Deborah Moore, our Global Product Development Lead has been a product development lead since 2011 and began working with the 3D printing team in 2018. She is directly responsible for overseeing the team that is creating the innovative new products we’re bringing to the additive market.
- Leading human resources for the team is Vivian Zhang. She’s been with Henkel for nearly 5 years, and has amassed significant experience with organizational transformation, talent development and project management, developing several diverse, cross-functional teams.
- Our Head of 3D Printing Europe, Christiane Wildt, has been with Henkel for over 12 years. She has an advanced degree in industrial engineering and has spent much of her career working in the automotive and aerospace markets.
Having worked in many different functions, including sales, operations and supply chain I can say with some authority that best-of-breed companies seek diversity both from themselves and their business partners. Over my career, the contributions of women have been valued and appreciated by my suppliers and customers alike.
As additive manufacturing continues its evolution from cottage industry to manufacturing game-changer, women need to be on the front lines. As one of those women at Henkel, I’m excited to be part of the diverse team committed to delivering on 3D printing’s promise of sparking the next industrial revolution.