KILN TO BE MADE

Azerbaijan 2014 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rossen Papazov, General Director of Holcim Azerbaijan, on adapting a wealth of experience to the local market, CSR initiatives, and upcoming projects.

How would you evaluate the performance of Holcim's Azerbaijani operations in 2013?

We achieved our production, sales, customer satisfaction, and employee development targets. Moreover, this success was not only registered within Azerbaijan itself, but throughout the global Holcim Group. We have ensured our leading position through the development and growth of the Azerbaijani economy and its attractive business climate. In addition, we are strong partners for the various international projects of Holcim. Currently, we coordinate the Holcim Awards competition, which is open for projects that champion sustainable construction. Many people from Azerbaijan will be interested and keen to participate. Meanwhile, we have invested much time and energy into the training of our employees in occupational health and safety, aiming at a zero-accident level at our plant. All of our activities enable us to be a customer-focused and cost-efficient company with the highest standards of safety, personal development, and social dialogue.

Holcim's dedication to environmental protection is recognized worldwide. How has the company brought its expertise in this field to Azerbaijan?

As a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), we are united in our commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress. In 2000, Holcim was a co-founder of the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) helping the cement industry to address the challenges of sustainable development, and has been listed in the FTSE4Good Sustainability Index and confirmed as a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for a decade. Holcim is dedicated to the continual improvement of environmental performance. Cement production is a resource- and energy-intensive process that requires sustainable solutions. Eco-efficiency is therefore at the heart of our business. By reducing the resources used in production and minimizing waste, we aim to be at the forefront of the drive toward to a more sustainable construction industry. In general, 2013 was a turning point in the history of construction in Azerbaijan. Construction of the modern state-of-the-art plant was finalized, and this production facility has been completely modernized, having replaced the existing four old wet kiln lines with a single new dry kiln line. The new dry kiln consumes 50% less energy than its predecessors, emits 50 times less dust, and decreases water consumption by 500,000 cubic meters annually.

“Holcim Azerbaijan is one of the pioneers of corporate social responsibility."

In addition to its environmental activities, community development is part and parcel of your operations in Azerbaijan, particularly as it pertains to educating its youth. What were your main initiatives in this area in 2013, and what are you looking to achieve in this regard in 2014?

Holcim Azerbaijan is one of the pioneers of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the Azerbaijani business environment. The CSR program is aimed at bringing benefits for the sustainable development of the country and cementing the foundations for the future development of its people. We have established a Community Advisory Panel in the Garadagh region. Through formal dialogue sessions, open days, and local partnerships we participate in building prosperity for communities. Our company established various centers: the Youth Development Center, the Employment Center, and the Center for Rehabilitation of Children with Special Needs are all the success stories of Holcim Group Companies. The Employment Center provides various services, including career planning, access to the labor market, and workshops on access to targeted social aid programs. In operation since August 2011, more than 1,200 people have applied to the organization, 193 people have found full-time employment, 950 people have taken part in seminars, and 60 people have received targeted social aid.

© The Business Year - September 2014