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Interview with Ilham Kadri, CEO Diversey

Diversey, Inc. is one of the leading suppliers worldwide of cleaning and hygiene solutions on the international market. The firm offers its services to clients in the hospitality and catering sectors, as well as retail, healthcare, food and beverages as well as cleaning businesses worldwide.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path?

I come from a very humble but loving background. I grew up in Morocco and was raised by my grandmother, who was an illiterate cleaner. I grew up lacking essentials such as quality food, electricity and running water. Despite this throughout my younger years, I worked hard to reach my goals spending 12-16 hours every day in labs studying. Eventually this hard work paid off and I became a chemical engineer with a master’s degree in physics and chemistry and I also hold a doctorate in polymer reactive extrusion.
From these early days of my career, I have subsequently held a variety of global roles in business leadership, sales and marketing and research & development in companies such as Huntsman, Cytec, Shell-Basell and Rohm Haas-Dow. I then joined Sealed Air’s Diversey Care division as President in 2013. Following the announcement of the division’s sale to Bain Capital, I was named President and CEO of Diversey in August 2017.
Now, I’m responsible for establishing Diversey as a standalone business. I’m proud to be the first female CEO of a leading company in the cleaning industry. Diversey integrates chemicals, floor care machines, tools, equipment and technology services, food safety services and water and energy management and more.
I am also proud to have founded and be the first Chairwoman of The ISSA Hygieia™ Network, which aims to educate and advance women at all levels – but especially those at the lower level - in the professional cleaning sector.

How long have you been working for the hospitality industry?

I have been involved in the hospitality industry since 2013 when I first joined Diversey. It is one of the most dynamic and interesting sectors that we have the honor to serve. At Diversey, our role in the hospitality sector is to help build and maintain guest satisfaction and ensure food safety and sustainability.

What kind of products do you offer hoteliers?

We offer a wide range of products to our customers in the hospitality sector from hygiene solutions for bathrooms, kitchen and hotel rooms through to robotic floor care machines and value added services in our Internet of Clean portfolio such as IntelliDish.

Could you tell us about the recent changes that have been made at Diversey regarding strategy, communication, corporate governance?

Bain Capital acquired Diversey in September 2017. I was appointed CEO which is a tremendous honor to serve this amazing industry. Our strategy is to build further on our core business and continue innovating in areas such as the Internet of Clean​. Our purpose is to protect and care for people every day. Diversey has been, and always will be facilitators for life. We constantly deliver revolutionary cleaning and hygiene technologies that provide total confidence to our customers. Everything we do has our customers’ needs at its heart and is based on the belief that cleaning and hygiene are life essentials.

According to you, what is your added value for your customers?

There are three things that spring to mind here :
Total confidence – we design and commercialize cleaning and hygiene technologies that help our customers reduce their operating costs, safeguard their brands and protect the environment.
Global footprint – the consistent delivery of the same quality solutions in more than 65 countries directly, and anywhere in the world with our distribution network​
Innovation and Sustainability – Diversey has existed for over 94 years and is known to lead our sector in terms of product innovation and sustainability.

How do you implement sustainability in your products?

In the same way we all know there is no life without water, I have always said that “there is no sustainable life without cleaning”.

​Sustainability is intrinsic in everything we do. We have our own sustainability metrics and goals to become a more sustainable company. And we incorporate sustainability principles in all our products from the early stages of development. Our dosing and dispensing platforms, our concentrates, our water saving solutions like Intelli​Dish are designed to be effective...and reduce the need of water.

How do you implement innovation in your products?

Our innovation process is totally customer driven. We look at the customer needs and we get our global R&D teams to look at ways of satisfying those needs. ​We benchmark with other industries, competitors and we come up constantly with innovative products that we roll out across all our geographies.

What are your priorities for 2018?

My priorities are to keep creating value for our customers through innovative solutions that help them solve their most pressing needs. As a woman in the hygiene industry, my ambition is to help other younger women develop careers and have opportunities to prosper. 70% of the workers in our industry are female and half of them are illiterate, so my commitment is to do all I can to give them opportunities to prosper. As founder and first chairwoman of the ISSA Hygieia Network I’m dedicated to educating and empowering these women. We launched a mentoring program to help overcome low-level roles and facilitate professional development for the Network.
I’m also devoted to improving the number of women in board rooms. Diversey’s Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) aims to ensure that we attract, retain and advance the professional development of women. I’m very much looking forward to continuing these efforts within Diversey and beyond.

According to you, what is the future of hotels? What kind of hotels will be offered to tourists in 2030?

In my humble opinion, based on my experience as a key partner for the hotel industry (on top of being a regular traveler for business and leisure), the future for hotels is very bright. Each year more people travel and those chains that understand how to be close to their customers and adapt to their demands, will have great opportunities. Based on our research, cleanliness is the number one requirement from hotel guests, and social media portals like Tripavisor recognise this topic as the most commonly mentioned cause of guest satisfaction...or lack thereof. ​

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