In 2012, Korneuburg, our consumer goods packaging operation in lower Austria, went through a transformational change. Against a backdrop of the plant going through challenging times, people felt unmotivated and detached. Team work and collaboration across departments was poor. Eveline Wagner was appointed as MD of Korneuburg in January 2013, having worked in the plant for a number of years. We spoke to her about the journey she went through with her people.

While many issues required Eveline’s urgent attention when she began as MD, nothing concerned her more than the lack of engagement among the workforce. Eveline strongly believes team work is key to success, but she quickly realised many of her production employees didn’t share a common language. Roughly 20 languages were spoken and over 90% of employees were not native German speakers. Low literacy levels among a significant number of people added to the challenge.

Work soon followed to address the gap. German language courses were initiated and, as an interim measure, posters and leaflets were adapted to provide highly graphic and visual information with little or no text. Eveline herself has a high presence in the plant every day, with an open-door policy at all times. She leads a culture of honesty and transparency with her teams. Capital investments and strong leadership support from the Europe & International (E&I) senior management boosted working conditions and the prospects of the plant, increasing employees’ sense of being part of its future. Four years down the line, the plant has an increasingly engaged and motivated workforce which will help secure the plant’s success long into the future.

It was a slow start and people were sceptical at first, but we all started to see a shift. People began to trust that the new approach will be good for business and good for people.

Eveline Wagner

MD, Mondi Korneuburg, Austria

 

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