Women at APP: Purpose with Passion

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Over the past two decades, the significance of the Pulp, Paper, Print, and Packaging supply chain has intensified, especially in relation to climate change. Dr. Liz Wilks has spent much of her professional life translating her zeal for international cooperation and transformation into tangible actions. Serving as the European Director for Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement at Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas, she has honed her dedication to these values for the last 10 years.

Her responsibilities revolve around fostering partnerships, disseminating knowledge, and influencing the creation of guidelines and laws that can ensure forestry and supply chain practices contribute positively to the climate change fight.

A Path Marked by Environmental Commitment

Starting her career at Wiggins Teape, now known as Antalis and one of Europe’s leading packaging distributors, Dr. Wilks faced an industry under scrutiny for its environmental effects. This experience ignited her curiosity about how businesses could expand their influence within their field. Working on a joint advisory committee, she explored synergistic strategies, leading to the creation of the first Global Packaging Standard.

Charting a Course in International Forestry Standards

Dr. Wilks journey soon led her to engage more with International Forestry Standards, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Passionate about world collaboration and change, she crafted a sustainability blueprint for Antalis, becoming a role model for other companies by introducing a multi-site chain of custody standard for FSC and PEFC. This innovative approach helps firms choose eco-friendly paper products, steering them toward environmental objectives.

A Connection to Nature

Reinforced by her experiences in the Himalayas and with the Bedouin tribe in Egypt, Dr. Wilks’ was convinced that more could be accomplished. Her travels abroad accentuated the imperative to align with nature while preserving and respecting its resources. She realised that there are intricate connections within ecosystems, acknowledging that the preservation of a single species can influence the entire ecosystem. This understanding extended to the protection of biodiversity

And even though industries in Europe had made strides in exhibiting the sustainability aspects of their supply chains, Dr. Wilks felt that this was inadequate. She recognised a growing global focus shifting towards Southeast Asia and felt the need for intensified sustainability efforts in this region.

An Influential Role at APP

A global cohesion between the Pulp, Paper, Print, and Packaging sectors was vital. To represent the industry’s environmental achievements, efforts were needed to extend beyond Europe and encompass the rest of the world. This realisation led Dr. Wilks to her position at Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas, where she continues to broaden her influence.

Her long-standing role at APP remains both motivating and satisfying, addressing the multifaceted nature of Indonesian forestry management and promoting commitments such as APP’s 2015 zero deforestation pledge.

Reflecting on a Sustainability-Driven Career

From the outset of her career, Dr. Wilks never anticipated that well-managed forests and sustainable livelihoods would become integral to the international paper, print, and packaging network.

Her work with APP has enabled exploration in areas like wildlife conservation, forestry management, and sustainable living. Despite the industry’s initial lack of appeal, her drive, backed by APP’s support, opened doors to unimaginable opportunities. As climate change grows in importance, the field attracts more interest, offering exciting career prospects.

As a woman in this field, Dr. Wilks’ softer skills, such as influence, problem-solving, and teamwork, have played a vital role. She asserts that values, purpose, and passion are as vital as technical skills, underscoring the importance of aligning with organisations like APP that foster personal growth.

Education and Mentorship

Dr. Wilks’ zeal for education and her inspiring journey as a woman in the pulp and paper industry remains undiminished. In addition to her significant responsibilities at APP, she mentors young women in sustainability, serves as an advisor, and is a visiting professor at the University of the West of England, Bristol. As a figure of influence, she continues to resonate amongst the many women who are shaping their careers at APP, together striving to imprint a positive influence on this crucial sector that intersects the environment and the economy.