Sustainability
Published: June 05, 2024
Sustainability
Published: June 05, 2024

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Peter Votruba-Drzal: Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

As vice president for global sustainability, Peter Votruba-Drzal is taking on a role that taps into his more than two decades of experience as both a researcher and growth driver. He’s using the strategic combination of sustainability, productivity and innovation to reset our competitive advantage and that of our customers.

Turning the Keys to Mutual Business Growth

Holding a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, Peter started his career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He joined us in 2005, focusing on electrocoat technology. In the intervening years, his various roles have built skills ranging from new business development and product commercialization to innovation in mature markets and speed in emerging markets.

“In each of my roles, I learned something new that contributed to the next role. My experience across six of our businesses has given me an advantage in understanding the perspectives of our customers and how we can create value for them while also capturing value for ourselves. Sustainability, productivity and innovation are key to mutual business growth.”

When he assumed the full reins as vice president of global sustainability on June 1, 2024, Peter began leading a team of 10 employees with varied expertise that collaborate cross-functionally with procurement, product stewardship, operations, communications, business units and others. All are guided by our overall corporate sustainability focus and targets, and we publicly document our progress in our annual Environmental, Social and Governance Report.

Because of regional variations in markets, customers, regulations and other factors impacting sustainability, team members are rooted in each business to train, interpret and help embed sustainability into the business strategy. These experts also interpret upcoming regulations that could impact the business and help create partnerships with customers to drive sustainability forward.

Sustainability is core to how we operate and how we’ll accelerate growth, which is why all the global sustainability team’s work flows through the businesses. By partnering with them, we help define their strategies and identify the products and processes that we’ll introduce into our markets based on our customers’ priorities. The team is also focused on advancing our operational sustainability, guided by our ambitious 2030 targets. Whether through a product or process change, reducing environmental impact is good for our customers, our company, our investors and the environment.

Redefine Value, Differentiate on Performance

That “good” is growing. In 2023, 44% of our sales came from sustainably advantaged products, putting us on track to achieve our 2030 target of 50% of sales.

“It’s rare in a mature industry like coatings to have an opportunity to redefine value and differentiate on performance. Sustainability, productivity and innovation aren’t new, but their combination enables this redefinition and differentiation to give us and our customers an evolved competitive advantage in the market.”

Case in point is the coil industry, which is a mature industry with well-defined processes to coat coils of metal. When a coil manufacturer approached us with a request to lower its carbon footprint, we formed a partnership to enable a more sustainable process than was previously available that eliminated the need to cure coated coils using heat. Now, existing electron beam technology combined with a specially formulated coating that we developed for the customer enables curing without heat, eliminating carbon emissions and reducing energy usage.

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In the EMEA region, the global sustainability team has partnered with our Architectural Coatings business to create a sustainability strategy across a complex market that encompasses more than 20 countries and 25-plus languages. The result is our “Tomorrow Included” campaign, which will commercialize new products that offer sustainable improvements like reduction in carbon footprint with the same performance customers have come to expect from PPG.

Being focused and strategic and forming partnerships at the right time will help us deliver results for both the short and long term. As these examples and our 2023 ESG Report show, we’re integrating sustainable practices, products and solutions and leveraging our 50,000 employees to protect and beautify the world…sustainably. I’m pleased that our progress is being recognized by external organizations, customers, suppliers and investors.

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