EDITOR INTERVIEW In conversation with...

Dr Christine Fuchs, Vice President Global Research & Development, Fuchs PETROLUB Group, Chair of the UEIL Sustainability committee

Founded in 1931, Fuchs Petrolub is the world’s largest independent lubricants manufacturer. What’s at the core of the company’s continued success?

FUCHS is on every continent with 62 companies worldwide, a major advantage for customer proximity; with R&D hubs and laboratories in 22 countries, we can react fast to local and regional customer demands, supported by suitable technology. Our 10,000 formulations offer a full range of lubricants serving almost all applications. Key to our global success is combining tradition with new trends: digitalisation, mobility, globalisation and seeing these not as threats, but as challenges/opportunities.

You began working at Fuchs in 2012 - how has your role developed since then? In my first role as Head of Global R&D, building and developing the global network, increasing effectiveness and efficiency of our technical activities and workflow, was key. I moved to Fuchs Schmierstoffe, Fuchs’s largest affiliate, in 2012, where for the next 5 years I was responsible for R&D, combining a strategic function with an operational approach. I returned to Fuchs as VP Global R&D in 2018. The global task is more dominant than ever – my focus now is more intense coordination and further optimisation and cross-linking with other global functions.

Share with us a typical week in your life as VP of Global R&D. Pre-Coronavirus I travelled extensively to our R&D facilities, spending time engaging with international colleagues, staying informed on relevant local issues, successes and difficulties. Since Coronavirus, I have learned to manage all the tasks virtually, keeping contact and communication alive from my home or work office (which can make for long days given the different time zones). Digitilisation is more important than ever and I’m happy that we were prepared


to cope with this situation. Nevertheless I look forward to a future where I can combine face-to-face contact with virtual journeys.

uture where I can

What are the most significant challenges facing today’s R&D scientists and engineers? And with so much variation across the global regulatory landscape shouldn’t we be lobbying for greater harmonisation?

A clear yes. The harmonisation of chemical legislation was the initial aim but the result is different and diverse. A further challenge for scientists is the global availability of the raw materials, especially when we develop products for global use.

As a woman in one of the most influential and senior roles in a traditionally male dominated sector, do you feel a sense of personal responsibility to champion diversity? I have always been a promoter and big supporter of diversity; only with diversity can you achieve the best results, combining the different capabilities of females and males, which complement, rather than compete with each other. This is valid for each management level. Personally, I have never tried to be better than a man, I am always striving to be the best woman I can be.

What more could the industry do to address this issue?

Over the years, some things have started to change but the steps are very small. A significant mindset change is needed. Promoting women to senior roles must be a natural act, not an exception. Be fair.

The full interview with Dr Christine Fuchs is available to read on the Lube Media website


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