April 13, 2015 / Andrew Brown

Bring Your Stewardship Program to a New Business

What do donuts, pencils and enzymes have in common? “You do risk assessment for all of them,” says Stephen Benoit, product stewardship manager at DuPont. “The same principles and technology apply. And there are similarities in the management systems as well.”

That’s good news for product stewards whose companies own diverse business units. It means that product stewardship programs can be aligned, even if the products and processes vary by industry.

Benoit’s efforts to bring stewardship programs at DuPont together are proof that it can be done. “We've had a lot of different businesses in this one company alone over the years, from pharmaceuticals to paints to food, to materials and photovoltaics,” says Benoit. “We've consistently deployed our product stewardship program to all those businesses. And I think it's something that other companies are going through much more frequently now because of mergers and acquisitions.”

Benoit will share some lessons he’s learned during Adaptability of a Product Stewardship Program to Changing Business Portfolios, an education session at Stewardship 2015.

One piece of advice from Benoit is to keep an open mind. “You're trying to affect the culture change, so I never go into a business and say here's Responsible Care, and here's how you're going to do it,” he says. “I always make it a priority to learn everything I can about the stewardship process and the business, recognizing that they may have some better ways of doing things. You have to invest in understanding that business, not just go in as a hammer and say ‘you're doing this. Forget everything you've done.’”

It also helps to realize that businesses often have stewardship programs in place, but they use different terminology or they’re managed in a different part of the company. “It takes time to figure out, but then you’re not duplicating things and putting in needless processes and programs where something's already functioning.”

Benoit starts the process with a gap analysis based on RCMS and in-house standards. Those requirements are templated and used for audits. At that point, a management system is established. “It is an exercise of finding the right people in the organizations and going through those templates,” he says. “We call it environmental health and safety. What do you call it? And they’ll say, ‘I'm in a food business. We call it quality and food safety.’ So there's the conversion.”

Overarching activities and policies are mapped to the new business unit. “Once we've made a connection between the chemical versus the food, for example, we can take that to the next level and start reading each other's policies and coming to a unified policy

Andrew Brown

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