Interview with Laura Kohler

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A bathroom brand that has an immediate recall is KOHLER thanks to its cutting edge design and innovation.

When I was given an exclusive opportunity to chat with Laura Kohler, Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Stewardship and Sustainability, KOHLER for a one of its kind interaction, it took me very less time to agree. She tells Sakal Times more in this exclusive tête-à-tête.

What do you think of India as a country?

I have been coming to India for about 12 years and India is vibrant and I learn every time I am here. Whether it is in our offices in major cities or at the plants or even when am travelling to get to a destination, I see a culture that is changing. The landscapes change and people are always extremely active. And our teams here are constantly learning and actually pushing the rest of the world to do things in a new and different way.

In your role as overseeing worldwide Human Resources organization and leader of Stewardship, Innovation for Good and Sustainability programs what do you do?

I think I am fortunate to have the responsibility for both people and social impact and KOHLER does its best to bring the two together to get our people involved in social impact and we call it associates in action. I think that what’s make us unique and we call it believing in better. Making a world a better place and we figure out a way to get you involved and this is in any part of the world we work in.

What are the sustainability measures that your company is taking?

We are focused in waste reduction whether it is energy or water. And as far as reduction in greenhouse gases is concerned we are looking at two things. First thing is reducing the impact with our manufacturing footprint and also looking at a responsible lifecycle of our products to ensure they are sustainable even after they leave the factory to go to the customer.

Laura Kohler
Laura Kohler

What kind of sustainability programs do you have specifically in India?

In India we are focused on solar as a captive source of power in our plant in Jhagadia and also looking at improving waste management and how to use by products more effectively. More importantly when we look at products whether it is a toilet where we use water for flushing or a shower faucet we are bringing in technology that uses as less water as possible without compromising on the performance of the product.

Tell us about your WasteLab Project.

The WasteLab Project is something that we are very proud of. It took about two years to launch and the idea came from the innovation for good business team to take pottery and foundry waste and dust and combining it to create a tile. We then managed one of our business units to adapt the process and take it in and became part of their factory process. We launched the product in Las Vegas in the Kitchen and bath show in February 2019 under our Ann Sacks brand.

Tell us about the Innovation for Good (IFG) program in India.

It is an incubation business unit and we essentially develop new ideas for the developing world and align with UN Sustainability goals especially number 6, 7 and 12, particularly clean water and sanitation. Wastelab came out of that and repurposing waste and the clarity water filter came out of here and we are now working on waterless sanitation.

What are the Community Partnership programs you run in India?

We believe we need to strengthen the communities where we live and work. In 2018 we focused on two villages just outside our factory in Jhagadia and we put in over 200 toilets in the villages to ensure each house had one as well as hand washing stations. Now we are also impacting schools with these. We believe strong communities help families grow and become vibrant and that will sustain the community and company over time.

How so you balance your personal and professional life?

I am very passionate about work and being a privately held family business in the fourth generation it is passion that drives me. My first job however is to be a mother and I have three girls who I am proud to say are independent and strong women. I would tell anyone who is balancing a lot of pressure in their lives to take care of themselves as if you are strong as others can continue to work with you.

Do you have any women specific policies in your India organization?

We have a brand new “back to work” program that is focused on women who return to work post their maternity break as we want people to choose to remain with KOHLER. We have also counselled the managers of the women as well.

What is your advice to young women who are staring their career?

I want them to take risks and try things that they may be interested and it is okay to make a mistake as you have still learnt. You need to move out of the house and learn to be independent.

Tell us about your upcoming product launches.

We are focused on new faucet finishes especially rose gold and new glazes on our plumbing products like matte, stone and colours and our team in India is working on global product launches as well.

This story first appeared in Sakal Times dated May 13, 2019 here:

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