Interviews with partners


Dr Saša Bavec

Managing Director of Systems Division and Group Marketing Director at Knauf Insulation

What convinced you to join the Living with a Green Heart initiative?

Our company sees sustainable development as one of the key aspects of its strategy, and one of our core components for the past 10 years. During this time, the company has become, in terms of technology and in light of our set KPIs, much more environmentally friendly, as have our products. Last year we launched our own initiative – “For a Better World”, which is not so much a strategy as an embodiment of our values and our commitment to making the world a better place. In doing so we are always focused on people. Namely, all our actions lead towards the ways in which we can improve the world for humanity. In that regard, there is a huge emphasis on enabling all employees and other people we come in contact with to become the best versions of themselves and thus answer their higher calling. That is the key to a good life and a good sense of personal well-being, just as it is to having employees become, through their own internal motivation, the torchbearers and drivers of our sustainability-oriented activities. The Living with a Green Heart initiative communicates a philosophy to the world we believe in and is a part of our corporate culture, which is why we decided to join it.

How do you live the tenets of this initiative in your everyday routine?

Putting people first is one of the key priorities of our sustainability strategy.

That is why we invest in our employees so much. Recently, we have taken decisive steps on the path of developing our organisational culture, as we strive to create an environment where each of us can build upon our advantages and put our potential to work. We are increasingly aware of how important it is that employees feel good. Since everyone feels better when positive energy is flowing, we have become much more creative, better at problem solving, more effective and communicative, and more primed to tackle new challenges. Therefore, we have recently started trying to view our business processes through the lens of the employee experience, as well as including them in the redesign of these processes as much as possible. We want continue building on our diversity and develop a culture of even greater inclusion. The need to continuously adapt and seek solutions in the face of depleted resources on one side, and on the other having to face the uncertainty of what awaits us, has presented a challenge for everyone. But primarily it was the decisive role played by our management and their flexibility.

Why should other companies join the initiative as well?

The pandemic turned everything upside down, both in our professional and private lives, creating on one hand a lot of additional psychological burdens our employees had to face, and on the other forcing them to radically change the way they work, both on the job and when working from home. The initiative encourages companies and people to change their ‘work/life’ balance, when life stops at nine in the morning, the second we punch in, and then begins again at five in the afternoon, when we come home, to a ‘life/life’ balance, where work also becomes a place where people can express themselves and realise their potential, a place where they feel just as good as at home. This results in the initiative having a positive effect on the employees’ mental health and reduces the possibility of a burnout and manifestation of other mental health problems. The initiative also builds upon the idea that this “new reality” must be seen as an opportunity to get rid of the old, the useless, and the overly draconian. It promotes the development of processes and working environments that places employees and end users at the centre of everything we do. This allows us to construct a stimulating and an inclusive ecosystem around them, motivating the employees to tap into their potential. That will surely have positive effects on the company’s success. I am convinced that all participating companies will feel positive effects of the initiative in both areas I just outlined.

What are your objectives and how do you plan on reaching them?

I truly believe that there is no reason why employees should not feel as good at work as they do in their free time. The desire is to create an environment and culture in which this is possible. We cannot quantify well-being, but the smiles and content faces of our employees should be the reward and an indicator that our vision has become reality.

What ‘will be’, ‘what was’, and what ‘should be’ the corporate pulse in 5 years?

Our vision is to become a company where employees feel good, both at work and in their private lives, who are self-motivated to do everything they can to help the company achieve its mission, which in our case, is building a better world for all.

Saša Božič

Director, Founder and Sophia Academy Coach

Can you explain the essence of ‘the Beat of the Green Heart’ idea to us?

Our planet is clearly letting us know more and more often that our coexistence is not exactly mutual. Environmental and humanitarian crises like hurricanes, floods, wildfires, infectious diseases, as well as poverty and hunger are no longer a phenomena restricted to the far corners of the globe. Instead, they’ve become a part of our everyday lives. Everyone is responsible for the state and well-being of our planet, and each one of us can spark a behavioural transformation that will lead to recovery. The Green Heart initiative encourages and inspires a spiritual transformation in the hearts and souls of global citizens towards accepting personal responsibility for healing the planet and the society, as well as triggering the necessary changes in how we live and interact.

How do you achieve that on the level of an individual?

It all starts and ends with the individual. The paradigm shifts we need to return to a natural balance begin by elevating individual consciousness of personal responsibility and by deciding to act in accordance with this newfound insight. The Beat of the Green Heart inspires exactly that. It awakens inside us the primal memory of harmony with nature and tight-knit, inclusive societies founded on the awareness that our planet must be preserved for future generations. In that process everything counts, no matter how small. Every purchase decision, every act of littering and pollution, every recycled bottle, and every smile or act of kindness we show our fellow human beings. Small changes lead to big ones. What is important is the awareness that every single day each one of us has the ability and opportunity to make a difference, knowing that an ocean consists of tiny drops.

Why is that necessary in the coming times?

In the times we are living in, with all the warnings the Earth is sending us, it is nearly impossible to continue ignoring the obvious. A paradigm shift in our behaviour is the only way to survive and thrive. By beginning to act like grateful guests on this exquisite planet. We have to internalise the notion that we are never truly entitled to anything and that gratitude for every breath, movement, and insights that our everyday lives offer us is the basic first step towards a healthy outlook.

How do you personally live the tenets of this initiative in your everyday routine?

I want to inspire people by my example and by taking personal responsibility for the things I talk about. I am a child of nature, and I have found peace in Bohinj as well as in the deserts and the sea of the coast of the Emirates. That is where, time and time again, I come to the realisation how magnificent nature is, and how respectfully grateful we need to be for it. I spent this summer in Mexico, where hurricane Grace wreaked havoc. To see the force and the might of nature right at its core awakened inside me an understanding of how fragile and vulnerable we truly are. We should foster this awareness anew every day. Furthermore, I am also a vegan. I am believe that a healthy lifestyle and diet do not just contribute to my vitality, but they also contribute to the world’s overall sustainability at several levels.

How do you see the average person’s working situation today and in five years?

For the last 18 months, I have been working on projects on a daily basis, focused on establishing preventive and sustainable measures for maintaining employees’ mental health. I got a candid insight into what managers all over the world are feeling and how they were affected by Covid-19. We are currently in a phase of a transition, from working the way we used to – sitting in offices, working in a team, reporting to superiors, to a post-Covid style of work that will follow. I think the future will put individual employees to the forefront, along with their unique capabilities and the ways in which they can contribute to the work process. Within one or more global teams, considering synergies of those teams, employees will join tasks on a basis of individual projects – wherever their individual talents will be most desired and most required. The structures as we know them today will collapse, and our ways of collaboration and communication will become more streamlined and thoughtful. People no longer travel all over the world for every meeting like they used to. And that is surely much more worker-friendly and certainly a more sustainable approach to people and their well-being. Sustainability, after all, begins exactly there, with each individual. With responsibility for our own well-being. By elevating awareness about who and what we are, where our limits are, what we really need in life and what we can do without. Before tackling these changes, we need to know how far we can extend our individual reach, and at what point we are simply burning ourselves out. Only by developing a sustainable relationship with ourselves and our own well-being, through conscious, responsible actions that we pursue on a daily basis, can we change and evolve in the direction of broad and sweeping changes we need, such as our relationship with the nature, fellow human beings and the times that are coming.

Janez Škrabec

CEO Riko, d.o.o.

What convinced you to join the Living with a Green Heart initiative?

Firm belief in a green orientation that benefits people, society, and the planet is something that you develop within yourself, actively and responsibly, when you have focused your broader perspective and honed your empathy towards your fellow citizens and the environment. Even before that became a (very understandably vocal) social paradigm, it was one of Riko’s most intimate commitments to begin encouraging and contributing to sustainable principles, and most importantly to start acting that way ourselves. We do not intend to be bystanders, but see ourselves as active co-creators of a better, more beautiful future, both in our smallest gestures and our most important business decisions. Within the Living with a Green Heart initiative we found a framework for our convictions and our actions, and so we were honoured to join. After all – this initiative is a truly wonderful way to encourage the guidelines and decisions that will reawaken green values in our lives. Just like a heart pumps blood through our veins.

Why should other companies join the initiative as well?

Simple – because strength is found in collaboration and networking. Working and developing together is, after all, a beautiful privilege, one that leads to multiplicative synergies. As such, Riko looks forward to finding new role models in society, or interesting companions and their endeavours on the paths we tread together for the benefit of a better, more beautiful future. For this the initiative provides a wonderful platform.

What will be and what was, and what should be the corporate pulse in 5 years?

Green. That doesn’t just mean decisions and actions that lead to mitigating the effects of climate change and excessive environmental pollution, but that instill positive perspectives in our entrepreneurial pulse that ensure personal and professional success, and facilitate sustainable growth and development.

How do you live the tenets of this initiative in your everyday routine?

Riko makes it possible for our employees to pursue personal development and a creative role, and we support their continued education and ambitions. We have a proven track record of respect for and development of local potentials in foreign markets and we employ and educate local populations. Our highest goal is ensuring everyone’s satisfaction and joint success on projects that regularly join a number of employees together, a goal that supersedes our every endeavor. In our every action we dedicate concern and care for the natural environment. Riko’s philosophy stands by firm inclusion in the environment, both in our business contacts as well as in our support for social, cultural, and other segments that are crucial for comprehensive development and a rich life in all aspects. And lastly – all of the products and services we provide to our clients are imbued with green values.

What are your objectives and how do you plan on reaching them?

As a company our goals lie in economic success, but we can by no means measure this merely by balance sheets, but by the conditions we create for a better and more beautiful life in all aspects, as well as by the tracks left by the sustainable steps we took along the way. That’s why there stands unwaveringly at the core of our business philosophy the satisfaction of all parties involved – from our employees, our partners, and the communities where we work, to the environment and the planet. We simply can’t starve the future. These aspirations are doubtlessly demanding and challenging, but they are far from unattainable. We just need a holistic approach that heeds the requirements of broad responsibility. The wooden construction system isn’t Riko’s only program that makes this possible, but it is certainly the one that most embodies our green values.