Born in Rotterdam in 1998, Sarah currently lives in Hoeksche Waard, but is happy to be back in her birthplace, where she feels right at home. She takes public transport to work, “because it’s sustainable and because I am – or, rather, was – entitled to free transport as a student. But it’s convenient and I will continue to take the bus whenever possible after I graduate. Although if it were up to me, I’d ride my horse to work,” the avid amateur equestrian says.
Sarah began her final-year internship at Broekman in the Marketing department in February 2019. “I studied International Business & Management Studies at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.” She speaks in the past tense, since at the time of the interview Sarah was fresh off her graduation, having just earned her degree a day ago. Sustainability, the circular economy and Corporate Social Responsibility were all key areas of focus during her studies. “In college it was all just theory, but here I’ve been given the opportunity to engage with these issues in a way that really makes an impact.”
I like the excitement of the port industry, but the logistics industry needs to adopt more sustainable standards
Sarah didn’t want to do just any internship and set out to find one that was right for her. “I had an interest in Corporate Social Responsibility and in the port and logistics industries in general. It could be because I’m from Rotterdam originally, but also because it’s just such a dynamic industry, and here at Broekman I was able to combine all these interests.”
When she interviewed at Broekman for a possible internship, she learned that a new CSR project was about to be launched in February, which seemed like a perfect fit for her.
“The Netherlands is a distribution hub and a major access point for European commerce, but at the same time logistics is a polluting industry overall. We couldn’t do without transport, of course, but exploring how processes might be optimised in order to reduce your carbon footprint is an improvement.”
Educational final-year internship
“I’ve been given a lot of freedom and responsibility right from the start, and got to exchange ideas with an external CSR consultant and a compliance manager from De Duurzame Adviseurs, a sustainability consultancy. I found the whole experience extremely educational. My main job was to collect the data required for the CSR baseline measurement and the company’s first Annual Corporate Sustainability Report. Some of the work was done by email and phone, but I also travelled around the country, all the way to Born (in the southern Dutch province of Limburg). Even though the people who work on the terminals and in the warehouses are busy, everyone made themselves available to me and they enjoyed sharing their input. I noticed that people are genuinely engaged with the subject and recognise its importance. I never felt like ‘just’ an intern: right from the outset I was taken seriously, like a true Young Professional.”
Assessing, charting your course and achieving goals
It was really a matter of documenting the company’s processes and procedures, and people shared their input and solutions for potential improvements. “I liaised with key stakeholders and explored together with the team how and where we can make sustainable improvements. Some recommendations were made, a ‘corporate fitness plan’ is now in place, and we explored how these measures could be implemented across the company as a whole.” We reviewed not just current energy consumption levels, but also the energy-efficiency potential, and safety and health.
The field work took up three days a week, and Sarah spent the rest of the time writing her thesis, which she titled Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility at Broekman Logistics. Sarah has since graduated, but will remain involved with Broekman for the foreseeable future: “I will most likely be assigned to the energy-efficiency audit on a project basis and be part of the other follow-up measures to be taken. It’s good to see how a major company like Broekman has committed itself so seriously to improving the sustainability of its business operations.”
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