ENG: Protecting the planet starts with controlling

"Combining Planet & Profit": Heraeus Precious Metals, Hanau, wins the Green Controlling Award 2022. Press release and interview.

Stuttgart/Wörthsee, September 20, 2022. The path to CO2 neutrality begins in the area of finance. With the winning project "Combining Planet & Profit" of the Green Controlling Award 2022, Heraeus Precious Metals shows an exemplary transformation path. It begins in controlling, extends to the entire business area and later, according to the goal, to the entire industry. "This holistic solution is a model solution in many respects," praised the project Prof. Dr. Heimo Losbichler, ICV Chairman, at the Award ceremony on September 20 in Stuttgart. The Green Controlling Award, worth 10,000 euros, is presented annually by the Péter Horváth Foundation in cooperation with the International Association of Controllers.

The Heraeus Group is one of the world's leading family-owned technology groups. The roots of the company go back to a family pharmacy founded in 1660. Today, the group includes companies from the fields of environment, electronics, health and industrial applications. The now award-winning Heraeus Precious Metals business unit is a global leader in precious metals services and products as well as in the trading of industrially used precious metals. All activities in the precious metal cycle, from trading to precious metal production and recycling, are bundled in this business area.

The goal is firmly in sight: “We at Heraeus Precious Metals have a concrete plan on how we will make our contribution to protecting our planet. Our products actively contribute to reducing emissions. At the same time, we also want to make a contribution to our planet with the way we manufacture our products. Our goals and ambitions go far beyond the requirements of the legislature,” confirm Maria Busch and Christin Sauer. The comprehensive project is being pushed forward under her leadership. Maria Busch is Head of Global Controlling, Reporting & Projects; Christin Sauer is Global Business Controller of Heraeus Precious Metals at the Heraeus Holding headquarters in Hanau, Hesse. The metal industry and its handling of precious resources are to be transformed, according to their claim. The way there begins in your own company with consistent measurement and tracking of the ambitious goals by controlling.

Since 2033 fossil fuels will be taboo

Starting from the base year 2019, by 2025 electricity is to be obtained entirely from renewable energy sources worldwide and the efficiency of the energy used is to be increased by 20 percent - also by identifying and avoiding unnecessary consumption. In addition, Heraeus Precious Metals is aiming for completely CO2-neutral production by 2025. By 2033, the Heraeus Precious Metals division should be free of the use of fossil fuels.

This defines the starting line and the finish line. In contrast to many other companies that have also started their journey towards a CO2-free footprint, the starting point for the transformation lies in the area of ​​finance. This is where the forward-looking project is set up and the foundation stone is laid for all further derivation of measures. Management and cost center reports are created on the basis of the current CO2 footprint, CO2 targets are set down in management scorecards and the CO2 footprint is taken into account for upcoming investment decisions and budget processes. In the second stage of development, this process is rolled out throughout the organization with goal setting agreements, review meetings and production inspections, until finally, in stage 3, the “green corporate transformation” is achieved. The transformation goes hand in hand with the revision of the previous corporate strategy - the existing business model is put to the test. The suppliers are also involved in the development. Heraeus Precious Metals has no less goal than to set new standards for its industrial sector.

Four pillars provide orientation along the project path

For the realization, Heraeus Precious Metals has identified four supporting pillars whose content stability must be ensured in order to achieve the project goal. Under the motto "Shaping the way we work to combine Planet and Profit", the areas of transparency & roadmap, cultural transformation, carbon-reducing activities as well as business models & customers are always in focus. Controllers can make a significant contribution to success with investment decisions, scientifically based objectives and the permanent evaluation of the product portfolio with regard to the CO2 footprint. Relevant data is made available throughout the organization through QLIK reports, down to the cost center level. The biggest CO2 drivers are identified in the budgeting process and the reduction of carbon emissions is transferred to all locations and business areas in line with the EBT targets as part of the management target agreements.

Three central points were decisive for the decision to choose Heraeus Precious Metals as the winner of the Green Controlling Award 2022, says Prof. Dr. Heimo Losbichler. On the one hand, it is noteworthy that the project was not a reaction to the requirements of the capital market, but arose "from own conviction". In addition, the controlling team offers a holistic solution - from strategy to operative reporting, from the service creation process to the products. The entire value chain up to Scope 3 was designed and a comprehensive application throughout the group ensured. It is impressive that the focus is not only on CO2, but on GHG. "The project also shows the ideal case of modern controlling: the solution creates transparency, based on a clear current status and clear goals. The role of controlling is active business partnering,” says the ICV Chairman enthusiastically.

Plus points for the image are welcome side effects

For the winner of the Green Controlling Award 2022, the economic impact of these measures is more than desirable. In addition to the "Investor Push" for investors who pay attention to sustainability-based KPIs and the "Customer Pull" for customers who value consistent sustainability along the supply chain, Heraeus Precious Metals is also increasing its attractiveness as an employer with the Award-winning project and fulfills along with the legal requirements, for example for the Green Deal, CBAM and CSRD. The role of “leader” in their own industrial sector is also deliberately taken on. On its own way to CO2 neutrality by 2025, high standards are defined, also for the recycling rate, in order to influence and motivate other companies.

For the first time since the Green Controlling Award was first awarded in 2011, its initiator and traditional laudator was missing. Péter Horváth passed away in June this year at the age of 85, a complete surprise to everyone. At the Stuttgart Controlling & Management Forum, in which the Award is given every year, the charismatic "Controlling Pope" who has been extremely active in the department for decades was remembered once again.


The award winners in an interview

The ICV in conversation with representatives of Heraeus Precious Metals, winner of the Green Controlling Award 2022


The ICV Team Communication spoke to the newly chosen Green Controlling Award winners from Heraeus Precious Metals: Stefan Staubach, CFO, Maria Busch, Head of Global Controlling, Reporting & Projects, and Christin Sauer, Global Business Controller, answer questions.

You have started the transformation to CO2 neutrality in finance. Why here?
The finance department is predestined to initiate such transformation processes. It can create a data basis that is comprehensible and comparable for everyone, process large amounts of data, make the results available to stakeholders in a simple manner and set measurable goals in cooperation with management.

The Heraeus Group is very broadly positioned under the umbrella of the holding company with 12 business units and the additional area of start-ups. Does the winning project apply to all areas or is the Precious Metals business unit the pilot?     Die Heraeus Group bundles various business areas, but the individual business units act independently of each other. Heraeus Precious Metals - as one of the largest business units of the Heraeus Group - is a pioneer and flagship project in terms of sustainability. However, we are in lively exchange with the entire group so that each business unit can benefit from our findings and position itself more sustainably.               

What was the initial impetus for your application for the Green Controlling Award 2022?
We are very proud of the goals we have achieved so far. We also wanted to be measured externally. The demanding Green Controlling Award seemed to us an excellent opportunity to seek this confirmation.    

For you, winning the Green Controlling Award 2022 means...
...a very great honor, as our efforts in the field of sustainability are also recognized externally with such a renowned award.

The interviewees: 
Stefan Staubach, Global Head of Finance, Heraeus Precious Metals
Stefan Staubach has been responsible for finance, procurement and compliance at Heraeus Precious Metals since the beginning of 2019. Previously, he was head of the M&A and strategy department of the Heraeus Group. In his previous professional career, Stefan Staubach worked for many years in investment banking and private equity in Europe and the USA. He holds a degree in business administration from the Leipzig Commercial College and did his doctorate with a thesis on the use of internal transfer prices.

Maria Busch - Head of Global Controlling, Reporting & Projects, Heraeus Precious Metals
Maria Busch has headed the Global Controlling, Reporting & Projects department at Heraeus Precious Metals since the beginning of 2022, which includes Financial and Precious Metals Controlling as well as carbon footprint reporting. In her previous, long-standing position as Senior Legal Counsel in the M&A area of Heraeus Holding, she managed numerous international M&A projects and gained interdisciplinary experience in all matters affecting a company - in addition to legal aspects, in particular finance, strategic positioning, EHS and IT. Maria Busch is admitted to the bar in Germany and also holds a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Christin Sauer – Global Business Controller, Heraeus Precious Metals
Christin Sauer is responsible for the sustainability processes in Global Controlling at Heraeus Precious Metals. This includes, among other things, the carbon footprint calculation and the continuous improvement of sustainability processes, such as automation. Christin Sauer started in her current position in 2021 and previously gained several years of experience in finance at one of the largest providers of market infrastructure worldwide. Christin Sauer holds a degree in business administration from the Würzburg University of Applied Sciences.

ICV Chairman Prof. Dr. Heimo Losbichler, Maria Busch and Christin Sauer (Heraeus Precious Metals) and Prof. Dr. Reinhold Mayer (Péter Horváth Foundation) (from left to right).