University students help Proton reach sustainability goals

As part of Proton’s sustainability work, we initiated a collaboration with Jönköping International Business School. The initiative was very well received by the university, which immediately decided that our needs and mission would fit as a whole course. The goal of the assignment is to give Proton a deeper understanding of which areas of sustainability work we should focus on, based on our stakeholders’ expectations and requirements.

Almost 80 students visited the production units in Skillingaryd and Värnamo last week, where they were divided into groups and given a tour and review of the operations. CEO David Gustafsson presented the group of companies and Maria Thom, Head of Sustainability at Proton, presented and clarified the mission the students were given.

– ‘It is clear that today’s young people are committed to sustainability and care about the climate. It was a group of students with true Proton spirit who visited us today. It takes courage to ask tough, and very concrete, questions about corporate sustainability, and that’s exactly the kind of people we believe are needed in the workplace today if we really want to make a difference. I’m really looking forward to reading the summary and analysis the students will present,’ says Maria Thom.

The course within the programme is called ‘Organisation Theory for purpose and profit’ and includes anonymous in-depth interviews with about 50 of Proton’s stakeholders, divided into the group’s different business areas. The stakeholders have been very positive about Proton’s initiative, which will hopefully lead to even more sustainable business.

​​​​​​​ – Sustainable business is a relatively new way of working, highlighting the issue of sustainability in different parts of a company’s business. ‘It is extremely valuable for us as a university and within the Sustainable Enterprise Development programme to work closely with the business community to give students insight into how things work in reality. The fact that they also get a concrete and clear assignment from a company like Proton creates several added values, says Pierre Sindambiwe, P.h.D and external teacher at Jönköping University.

When asked why sustainability is important, the students were clear.

-The climate is important for everyone. We will see more and more consequences of our behaviour if we do not act now. The population is growing at an ever-increasing rate, so we need to economise on our resources and protect the earth we live on,’ says student Janis Aprubs.
Fellow student Anton Johansson agrees and adds;

-If companies don’t work with the issue or show the will to do so, they are not interesting as employers for me when I enter the labour market.
For us at Proton, it feels hopeful and instructive with the visit and the help from the university students. Proton stands for positive change and we are sure that together we can contribute to a better world for the next generation.

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