– Alexey, please tell us about the most successful products you are currently managing.
– Even though 2022 was admittedly hard, we have produced a record high 112 kmt of dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP). This volume includes 104 kmt landing in our priority markets — Russia and the CIS. Another example is maleic anhydride: in 2022, SIBUR launched a one-of-a-kind MAN facility in Russia.
Our PET production is developing, primarily on account of a new product with up to 25–30% recycled content, Vivilen, produced at POLIEF. In 2022, we managed to homologate the Vivilen process for many of our customers, and from 2023, we see sales actively picking up in the beverage preform segment. Our other plant, SIBUR-PETF, producing polyethylene terephthalate granulate for vacuum blood collection systems, managed to increase sales to the medical products segment by 40% last year. SIBUR is the only producer of this brand in the CIS, with more than 140 million tubes already made from our feedstock.
Another successful product in our portfolio is polycarbonate: in 2022, we produced a record-high 95 kmt, implemented over 70 homologation projects with dozens of new customers, and expanded our coverage in the segment significantly. Polycarbonate is procured for the production of compounds, household appliances, products for agriculture, construction, automotive industry, lighting, etc. The target for 2023 is to produce over 100 kmt of polycarbonate.
– What products do you plan to promote in 2023?
– Primarily maleic anhydride (MAN). We will continue to further load our capacity to target design and expand to new markets. For this purpose, among other things, we are exploring new forms of production, tailoring out technical solutions to the customers’ needs. For example, we are now making flakes that speed up synthesis: for many customers, this comes with improved production rates, which we are very happy about.
In 2022, we ran the “Start the Cycle. Recycle and Buy Right” program which helped us reach out to 30 million people, increase brand awareness among the target audience (search queries about Vivilen on the Internet soared by 330%), and encourage people to recycle plastic and choose packaging with recycled content
We see demand for polycarbonate as a building material, so we are launching a major effort to form a portfolio of standard solutions, further develop GOST standards, in particular for solid sheets, and other arrangements promoting polycarbonate as a building material. To compare: globally, over 50% of this material is used in construction and electrical engineering, while in Russia it is still used mainly in agriculture. In 2023, together with our partners, we plan to advance greatly in this area. Our goal is to boost consumption of this product and harness the global experience.
There are interesting projects targeting the end consumer, i.e. all of us. We are launching the pilot LAIKA eco-brand to comprise phthalate-free plasticizers (phthalates are capable of building up in a human body). Phthalate-free plasticizers can be used in the production of flooring, furniture, vinyl wallpaper, and even children’s toys, and such products will be eco-friendly and safe. In 2023, together with our customers, we will develop this brand, broadcast the production process and benefits of the material.
The next phase of our work with Vivilen also addresses the environmental agenda. In 2022, we ran the “Start the Cycle. Recycle and Buy Right” program which helped us reach out to 30 million people, increase brand awareness among the target audience (search queries about Vivilen on the Internet soared by 330%), and encourage people to recycle plastic and choose packaging with recycled content. We will continue this work in 2023. The main task is to interact with the highly- and medium-engaged audiences, making up 20% and 41% of the audience, respectively. We want to help these people make green choices.
– What is being done to strengthen the company’s position on the Russian market?
– We are constantly looking for new ideas to launch new operations, expand and adjusting the product portfolio, in particular, to develop what is called medium- and low-tonnage chemical products. At the turn of 2022 and 2023, we started up ethyl acrylate operations at SIBUR Neftekhim. This work will continue in 2023. We are exploring and mastering the production of TDM (tertiary dodecyl mercaptan, important additives to rubbers) at our partner’s facilities. We are developing the production capability for PC-ABS compound grades never produced by SIBUR before. These compounds are used in electrical engineering and the automotive industry. We are introducing lower-MFR PC grades for the bottle segment.
There is still a lot of work to be done in 2023, but at least we understand what we aim for. This is another important finding that inspires everyone to gain ground
– You transferred to your current position from Head of Marketing for petrochemical business. Which areas of your work were completely new to you?
– I was lucky to find myself in a familiar environment: I worked both as marketing and sales manager at another chemical company, where I dealt with fluorinated chemicals; in consulting, I interacted with large customers, business owners, handled the B2C segment in e-commerce for a while, which also was an interesting experience and an opportunity to apprehend the entire chain up to the end consumer. Therefore, it was no pain for me to move on to another position. By that time, I had been with the company for over six years, learned the different roles pretty well, and my prior marketing manager job was related to sales to the maximum extent possible. In this case, it is more like two sides of the same coin: marketing is more about identifying a need and figuring out how to satisfy it, and sales involve actions in cooperation with internal and external partners.
The main challenge for me was the external environment, which narrowed the planning horizon substantially: we had to act very quickly, develop many new solutions with vendors, contractors, partners, and give up certain customary patterns. This might be the most powerful impression.
– What is your personal motivation?
– I think the purest emotions and a chance to recover can be found in simple things: family, friends, and shared hobbies. In many ways, this may be a result of volatility that we have experienced in the past years. I conducted an ‘independent survey’ recently among my colleagues and friends. I was surprised to find out how many people stayed home for New Year’s. Previously, 70-80% of respondents opted for fun activities away from home, and now the same percentage preferred a ‘cozy New Year’s Eve with family’ and simple holiday activities at home. And in January, they came back happy and recovered.
Once again, my family, friends and loved ones, ability to spend time with them the way I like, wrap up the year and make new plans together bring lots of positive energy, help recover and then return to work with doubled motivation and genuine engagement.
Another stimulus is hobbies. I am a football fan, I try to find time and play myself and not miss any major international tournaments, at least on television. The winter World Cup in Qatar showed us not only that a game could be played in the desert and sand, but a fabulous triumph of Argentina as well. When one person showed that if you want something really badly and do your best together with your team, the results will be fruitful. So I wish everyone to find time for their hobbies and gain energy from them for productive performance.