Chairman, president and CEO
Schnitzer Steel Industries
Tamara Lundgren is chairman, president and CEO of Schnitzer Steel Industries and also serves as a member of the company's board of directors. Prior to joining SSI, she was an investment banker, lawyer, and professional board member with 25 years of experience in the US and Europe.
What made you join the metals industry?
An opportunity to work with a group of very talented individuals in a global industry sector with significant growth potential and sustainability drivers, due to increasing emphasis on recycling, continuing growth in global electric arc furnace (EAF) steel-making capacity, and the increased metal intensity of lower carbon-based industries and activities.
What advice would you give a woman entering the industry today
The same advice as I would give anyone focused on advancing in their career: be open to opportunities that may not be in your pre-defined career plan, take risks with stretch opportunities and don't fear failure. Growth opportunities are the ones that make you feel uncomfortable, but they are the ones where you will learn the most. And never be afraid to recruit people brighter than you or different t0 you – you are only as good as the team you build.
What are your diversity and inclusion priorities? How has a commitment to diversity and inclusion helped to drive business results?
At Schnitzer, we know that diversity and inclusion are the keys to our success. Fundamental to our success is a commitment to fostering an environment that attracts a diverse workforce and promotes a culture of inclusiveness. This environment can only exist if we are a place where characteristics such as race, gender, religion and sexual orientation do not define talent. We are proud to be an organization distinguished by its diversity in all demographics and at all levels.
Diversity is vital to any company culture, but also plays an important role in promoting positive business results. At Schnitzer, we know that diversity drives our success, motivates employees, and fosters innovation. Differences in gender, race, age, and educational background support better decision-making through conversations that come out of varied experiences.
What has been your approach to confronting the coronavirus pandemic as it affects your business? Does special attention need to be paid to safeguarding progress in diversity and inclusion at this time and what will that require?
Nearly everything about COVID-19 feels unprecedented. It presents particular challenges because, unlike a hurricane or a flood, it is not a single event, and many of the facts are still not clear. It's worth noting, however, that we are a company that was founded in 1906, and we have experienced downturns and volatility from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. There is a legacy at our Company of facing challenges head-on and navigating through the toughest of times. While a number of factors have made COVID-19 unique and more difficult than past health crises, the same essential rules apply for how we manage through it.
Rule number one, focus on safety and your health and wellbeing. First, we must not deviate from our strong focus on safety and the health and well-being of each of our team members. We are following all CDC and state and local health department guidelines and have implemented infection control measures at all our sites, travel and meeting restrictions, and other social distancing measures.
Rule number two, rapid response and communication are critical. A well-organized crisis response is the hallmark of operational excellence. Our rapid response management team, comprised of leaders across our organization, met every day during the height of the pandemic and continue to meet regularly to ensure that we can continue to work in a safe and healthy environment, rapidly respond to various scenarios, and communicate on a timely basis.
Rule number three, stay strategic and think long term. It has been important for us to reinforce that while COVID-19 is a global crisis, there is not a crisis at Schnitzer. In other words, while Rules one and two are paramount, we continue to focus on our business and our long-term goals, without wavering from our core values which, of course, include our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
How do see the steel market evolving in the eventual post-COVID era? What do you see for the future of auto-recycling sustainability?
Despite the current volatility, the long-term drivers of scrap demand remain intact, due to the greater emphasis on recycling, the continued growth in global EAF steel-making capacity, and the increased metal intensity of lower carbon-based industries and activities.
A low-carbon economy is widely acknowledged as more metal intensive. With the rising use of wind, solar and batteries for power generation, demand for dozens of metals are expected to increase across a wide spectrum of industries. In addition to steel, aluminum, copper, and nickel are among the metals expected to be in highest demand.
The use of recycled scrap metal is continuing to increase. By 2022, domestic EAF steel production is estimated to increase to 75% of all US steel production. Using recycled materials in metal production can dramatically reduce carbon intensity – a trend recognized by steelmakers in the US and increasingly around the globe.