Working beyond borders


Working at Umicore means working in an international environment: this is clear from the 74 different nationalities we have globally and the worldwide collaboration among our colleagues. That may be easy to imagine given Umicore’s global presence but what we value the most is our teams’ internationality. To find out how international we are, we decided to zoom into one particular site – Olen, Belgium. Our colleagues Sofie, Jean Sébastien, Travis, and Ans agree on one thing: it is fascinating to work in such an environment.

“Different perspectives make our research even stronger”  –  Travis Thompson

“My specialization in battery materials brought me from the United States to Belgium two years ago. Since then, my wife and I live in Mortsel, and I take the train to Olen every day. My immediate colleagues come from China, Poland, Korea, Spain, Ethiopia, Japan, and Belgium. I find it hugely enriching. Because of our cultural differences, we look at complex problems differently, making our research even stronger. Then again, my friends are thoroughly Belgian. My wife and I want to build our future here and fully integrate. It is becoming ever easier thanks to the Dutch classes that we are both taking via Umicore.”

“Behind each name lies a personality”  –  Sofie Borghs

“I have always worked in an international environment. As a member of the commercial team, I have contact with all our international customers and staff. There are cultural differences, of course, but I think personal differences are much more important. Behind each name lies a personality, and I like to get to know them all better. Before the CoVid-19 crisis, we visited customers to strengthen the professional and personal links, but these days we work more often with video calls. But I still find that every conversation is fascinating. They open your eyes, so you are constantly developing as a person.”

“Living abroad and interacting with others made me a better, and a more modest person”  

–  Jean Sébastian Bridel

“I lived and worked in Korea for four years: an intense life experience. You learn a great deal both about yourself professionally and about cultural differences. Living in the midst of it helps you to understand the local mindset and customs far better. That made me a more modest but also a better person. However, it did demand quite some effort, but by understanding the culture and accepting the differences, you can do great things together. I’ve been working in Olen again since last year. For how long? I don’t know yet, but I’m definitely open to relocating again.”

“Our products and services travel around the whole world sustainably”  –  Ans Meynen

“We gather all the raw materials and end products of the Umicore Cobalt and Specialty Materials business unit in Olen. Together with my colleagues, I look for the most sustainable means of transport to send our products to and from Italy, Spain, Finland, United States, Canada, the Philippines, China, and elsewhere. I also make sure that all the routes connect seamlessly. To do this, I work closely with our international carriers and distributors. As we work worldwide and on a large scale, we want to make a big difference for the environment. Our team has already substantially reduced road transport and CO²-emissions by using trains and inland waterways as much as possible. It gives me great satisfaction!”