Christine RuizSymrise, USAAntoine CoursaultDiana Food, FranceLucia YeSymrise, ChinaVictoria Ramirez TellezSymrise, MexicoNorbert KahmannSymrise, GermanyG. LakshmananSymrise, India

Career
Paths

A forklift driver turned customer service center employee, a vehicle operator turned expert for halal and kosher foods, a fresh graduate starting work, a journey from France to Mexico and back: Around 10,000 people work at Symrise – and they have just as many stories about what led them toward their careers at Symrise. Six examples show just how varied these paths can be – and how the company supports these choices with continuing education programs and targeted planning, and with great openness and flexibility.

Symrise, USA
Christine Ruiz

Age28

Family Statussingle

Place of birthUSA

HometownFair Lawn, New Jersey, USA

The industry I work in today is basically exactly what I always wanted. I studied biology and during my studies I realized that I was becoming increasingly interested in the connection between our bodies and our nutrition – for example, how we react to food and what is required to maintain our cells. Professionally, I started working at a large consumer goods manufacturer that purchased high-quality flavors and other ingredients from Symrise. I then moved to Symrise four years ago to work in raw materials and formula management. In the beginning, I worked closely with developers, strategic purchasing and external suppliers to make sure that the raw materials met all regulatory standards. Later, I continued to specialize, for example, in data and information management in databases, SAP and other IT systems that we use to manage raw materials and our recipes. What I found especially exciting was helping on the regulatory level to develop new categories or reducing the complexity of our work. Whenever I took on new tasks, I was able to get coaching and training. That really helped. Another important step was spending three months at the company headquarters in Holzminden. For example, I was able to join the global regulatory team and learn about foreign ­flavor regulations – I gained so much knowledge and experience doing this.

Diana Food, France
Antoine Coursault

Age40

Family Statusmarried, two children

Place of birthLongeville-Lès-Metz, France

HometownRennes, France

Over the 16 years that I have now been working at the company, I’ve experienced a few professional and personal turning points, both positive and negative. They have shaped me – and I believe these experiences are precisely what give me the ability to do my job today. I was lucky enough to get to spend four years living on Martinique as a teenager and was always really interested in other cultures. That’s another reason I started to work at Diana Pet Food. I had a master’s degree in food technology and the company offered me the opportunity to shape an entirely new market with a new team in Mexico in 2003. I was only 25. I had to engage with a new culture and language, which was extremely challenging, but equally exciting.

A few years later, everything changed suddenly. On a business trip to France, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I fought the disease for 18 months. The support I got from Diana Pet Food was fantastic. I was in regular contact with management and my team in Mexico. When I started working again, I was able to pick things up where I left them off almost seamlessly. A few years later, I was given the offer of returning to France to work at Diana Food on the Meat & Seafood Stream, working mainly on a strategic new factory in the US, dedicated to chicken ingredients. After twelve years in Latin America this was another step out of my comfort zone, but the company offered us tremendous support. I moved to the Food segment where I am now the Global Asset Management Director. My plan for the future is that I would like to go abroad again in order to keep expanding and sharing my ­experience with different languages and cultures.

I have always loved communicating with different people and helping them solve problems. A job in human resources has always been and still is the right place for me to do just that. After my first job with a consulting company, I started working at Symrise as an executive in the Human Resources department in 2003. I didn’t know the company but was quickly fascinated by the creative and unique industry. In addition, it was an especially exciting moment since at that time both predecessor companies Dragoco and ­Haarmann & Reimer were merging to become Symrise. Of course, this merger was a big challenge for the HR department, too. Over the years, I was able to keep developing, step by step. I have now been promoted to HR Business Partner for the Flavor division and Corporate Services, and I coordinate human resources work with management to align with the corporate strategy. The job can also mean a lot of stress, as was the case a few years ago, when two of my colleagues had to miss work for a long period of time and I had to take over a whole series of different tasks. But with the help of my team and my supervisors, we managed.

Symrise, China
Lucia Ye

Age42

Family Statusmarried, one child

Place of birthShanghai, China

HometownShanghai, China

Symrise, Mexico
Victoria Ramirez Tellez

Age51

Family Statusmarried, three daughters

Place of birthMonterrey, Mexico

HometownMonterrey, Mexico

I already liked chemistry when I was seven years old. My interest came from my oldest brother, who was a chemical engineer. That’s why I chose to study the subject and then went straight on to complete an internship at one of the predecessor companies of Symrise. The company was known as a particularly good employer in my city, Monterrey. This proved to be the case for me, and that’s why I’ve been working here for 29 years. I have held a number of different positions in the company and am now a manger in the process monitoring laboratory, which I have led since 2007. We assess the quality of intermediate and end products, improve them and ensure the quality of processes. I faced my biggest challenge fifteen years ago, when I moved from the laboratory to the production area. That created a whole new kind of pressure. But by working with my team and with the support of my supervisors, I was able to get everything done. No one is on their own here – and I believe this is one of the company’s greatest strengths.

At Symrise I was a mechanic and truck driver; I worked in shipping and in plant safety. Today I work in the regulatory area for kosher and halal certification. That sounds like a colorful career, and it is. I have always seen change as an opportunity and not a nuisance. And in the 34 years that I’ve worked at the company, there have been many, many changes – some of which even made several of my jobs superfluous, and which sometimes weren’t necessarily a step up. Still, the company, my supervisors, and HR always believed that we would find a job for me – and we worked together to find something that was right on both sides.

The biggest step was moving to Regulatory. After completing an additional training as a TPM coordinator, the changes in the ­production area were implemented together with the production teams. My job was to create the framework for integrating kosher and halal certified products into the normal development and production process. It worked, and the standards that we set must now be met across the entire industry. Moreover, in 2018 we were singled out by IFANCA, the largest private halal certifier worldwide, as their company of the year. What was remarkable in achieving this was that Symrise gave me carte blanche to implement the system I had developed. That much freedom and trust is definitely unusual.

Symrise, Germany
Norbert Kahmann

Age56

Family Statusmarried, two children

Place of birthHolzminden, Germany

HometownHolzminden, Germany

Symrise, India
G. Lakshmanan

Age50

Family Statusmarried, one son and one daughter

Place of birthKallapadi, Tamil Nadu, India

HometownChennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Twenty-three years ago, I applied to Symrise without any professional training because I wanted to work in an internationally active company and start a career. Today, I am an Assistant Manager in the Customer Service department at Symrise in India. In order to work my way up to this position, I had to learn a lot. But the company also really supported me in making my career by continuously performing on an outstanding level.

I started working for the Group as a forklift driver but soon stood out for my work in the warehouse and in logistics. I then had the opportunity to develop my skills further and worked my way up to becoming a warehouse worker. The shift to customer service in 2015 was a turning point in my career. Here, I support the sales and marketing team in the Scent & Care segment. For me, the job means taking on more responsibility, which also means that I am in direct contact with our customers. At the beginning, that was a real challenge. But I got through it with the support of my supervisor and coworkers, and am just as proud of this achievement as I am in receiving the “Best Employee” award in 2014. This title means a lot to me and gives me tremendous motivation to stay engaged.

Continuing education?
As important as ever!

Digitization and demographic change are just two of the issues that Symrise is aiming to ­address with its strengthened programs in continuing education and professional development. In this interview, Dr. Iñigo Natzel (Corporate Vice President Group Human Resources) explains how careers can work long-term in the company and why structured forms of knowledge transfer are so important for this to happen.

Dr. Natzel, what are the biggest challenges for Symrise in terms of Human Resources?

The speed of transformation in our world has increased enormously. The changes are tremendous – just look at the challenges and opportunities, that come with digitization. We need to get our employees ready. If we don’t support this as a company, we will fall behind.

What other issues need to be addressed?

We are currently facing and will continue to be faced with demographic change to an ever greater degree over the medium term, in Germany and many other countries. The proportion of employees who are older than 50 has constantly increased over the last five years. On the one hand, that’s a great thing, since we have loyal employees who stay with us for a long time and contribute their experience to our organization. At the same time, it also means that we must invest in the knowledge of these employees and actively support them so that they can keep pace. We are also developing a platform with which we can transfer know-how to younger em­ployees, and on which we are documenting our guidelines and processes. Moreover, around 125 employees are working outside of their home country seconded into our various countries for a number of years for transferring knowledge. This ensures that there is a great deal of international exchange in the Group.

How do you bring young, new employees into the company?

Symrise is investing more and more in recruitment – one reason being that competition for the smartest and most capable employees has become harder at a lot of sites. In Germany alone, for instance, in addition to a large number of trainees, we also have 120 students completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree while working at Symrise. Several students often stay with the company after completing their studies. Investment in young, new employees has also ensured that the number of employees who work at the company for less than ten years has increased. In other words, we are constantly getting younger. At the same time, we need to keep expanding our continuing education efforts. This is more important than ever if we want to ensure our employees’ knowledge stays up to date, to get people thinking more innovatively and to prepare people for management.

Can you put these efforts into numbers?

In 2018, we spent around € 3.5 million on continuing training and education. Every employee participated on average in 3.7 days of training. The working time costs the company an average of around another € 1,000 per employee. But it is all worth it. We are happy to invest in education, and this can be seen in the approximately 650 assessments that were completed last year. With these assessments, we surveyed employees’ strengths in­order to be able to advance the development of their individual careers. For us, one thing is always clear: Employees must be ready to change and develop, and we as a company must guide and support this process.