Despite reservations by friends when Juergen Meyn told them he wanted to study chemistry, he was determined to follow his dream and, in 1990, he finished his degree in chemistry at the University of Hanover in Germany.
“When I told my friends I was going to study chemistry, I heard comments like, ‘Are you sure? The chemical industry is bad for the environment.’ Even at that time, it was clear to me that we can’t live without it and it might be a good idea to get involved to improve our environment,” he explains.
“Today, I’m fully convinced that chemistry and the chemical industry can deliver the solutions to our global challenges.” As Managing Director of Covestro (Thailand) Co., Ltd., and Site Manager at the company’s polycarbonate manufacturing plant in Map Ta Phut, he’s put his 30 years of experience to full use.
He started at Bayer, climbing the corporate ladder to Plant Manager in several departments in both Germany and the US. In 2006, he moved to China with Bayer and returned to Germany in 2009, until he accepted the role of Managing Director of Covestro’s operations in Thailand.
In Covestro, he has found a company fully in sync with his long-held goal of making a difference. “I’m very happy to work at a company where the purpose and vision is fully aligned with my personal ambitions,” Juergen says.
Covestro is a global leader in the development and production of polyurethanes, polycarbonates, coatings, adhesives and specialties. Each of these businesses has its own facility in the Asia–Pacific region.
Covestro’s plant in the industrial zone of Map Ta Phut in the Rayong Province, one of the largest of its kind in the world, manufactures 290,000 tonnes of polycarbonate annually. Polycarbonate production at the site started in 1999.
In Asia, the company operates in 11 locations, including plants in China, Thailand, India, Taiwan and Japan, with different reporting lines both within and outside Asia. The Thai government is pursuing an economic and industrial policy of Thailand 4.0, which aims to address several major challenges and improve the lives of the Thai population.
Covestro, Juergen says, is keen to play a role in this program and is undertaking several objectives to contribute to the policy. “The country aims to create a value-based economy that is driven by innovation, technology and creativity, and a society that moves forward without leaving anyone behind,” he explains.
“A third goal is raising human values by transforming Thais into ‘competent human beings in the 21st century’, and lastly, to become a livable society that possesses an economic system capable of adjusting to climate change and a low carbon footprint.
“We are involved, and create value to support this country’s objectives while operating in several areas. We put importance on our Inclusive Business section, which supports underserved markets with several successful projects in Thailand in the past few years, such as a solar dryer dome and water purification systems. We’re supporting the policy with contributions to society through this business model.”
Covestro has recently installed a new production line for polycarbonate films at the plant, increasing its capacity by about 30%, and it is building a new plant for Vulkollan raw materials at the site. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, construction is on track for completion.
“The plant will produce one of the most powerful elastomers on the market, mainly used where the highest mechanical strength and abrasion resistance is required – for example, wheels for forklift trucks, and couplings and seals for the engineering industry. It will help serve growing demand for highperformance elastomers and a wider range of applications, especially in the Asia–Pacific region,” Juergen points out.
I’m fully convinced that chemistry and the chemical industry can deliver the solutions to our global challenges.
Covestro was in a singular position to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the peak period last year, there was a shortage of masks and face shields, so Covestro (Thailand) donated those materials to several hospitals in many provinces and to the communities surrounding the company’s plant in Rayong.
The Covestro brand is based on three values, Juergen says – curious, courageous and colourful – which are constantly communicated to its employees. Juergen believes that he can only be successful in his role with a strong team.
He focuses on people, creating a team spirit – which is reflected in Covestro’s ‘We are 1’ cultural approach – and knowing the employees’ challenges, supporting them where necessary but, at the same time, leaving enough freedom so that they can grow and develop.
“One thing that certainly shaped my leadership style today is working in different cultures and countries. It can be challenging, especially when you are finding your way in a new culture. But when you are open-minded, you discover that there are many different ways to handle topics, and your leadership skill set can benefit from that,” he says.
It was Juergen’s father who steered him in his early years with the advice to listen carefully to all the people around him, as a lot of different things can be learned from everyone. “Listening to people is important,” he attests.
“Management has to demonstrate our company values, vision and mission as well. The company has really walked the talk, and we make sure that our employees are happy working at Covestro. I’m sure that all our employees are proud of being part of the company.”
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