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Back on the road: collecting more milestones

‘I’ve just come back from my holiday in Kenya and am looking forward to the International congress on battery recycling (ICBR) in Austria next month,’ says Judith Wanjala, Recycling International’s sales manager. ‘Another highlight on the calendar is the E-scrap Conference in New Orleans. So much is happening in the world of batteries and electronics right now. Exciting times!’

When asked about her highlight of the year, she says that’s got to be the IFAT trade show. ‘Hands down!’ Wanjala laughs. ‘The who’s who of the industry was there. Innovation? Check. Entrepreneurs from all over the world? Check. Large halls with enough room to socialise and – after a glass of wine or two – dance? Check. Just what we needed after being cooped up at home for over two years.’

The first post-pandemic trans-Atlantic flight is a fact for Wanjala. ‘ISRI’s expo in Las Vegas was a smash hit – ask anyone,’ she says. ‘It was almost sureal seeing Robin Wiener and Bob Emery face to face again. I have to admit, I had to do a double take a few times. Some people changed so much; new hair, new wardrobe, new job titles – some people changed companies,’ Wanjala notes.

‘In that sense, I didn’t just experience jetlag flying back and forth. The industry saw a big reshuffle. It’s a lot to take in, besides getting used to the rythm of life on the road again,’ she observes.

There were some personal victories, too. ‘I finally had the chance to exchange my newly acquired know-how of logistics with the people in my network; I got my master’s degree in international supply chain management at Osnabrück University (in Germany) last year,’ Wanjala points out. This comes in handy, especially since reverse logistics impacts recycling operations.  

She also brushed up on her German language skills during the pandemic, earning a certificate at native speaking level. ‘A lot of technology providers are based in Germany and Austria so that can’t hurt!’ Wanjala explains.

‘I guess it’s time I update my business cards to include my fancy new title, huh?’ she adds with a subtle roll of her eyes. ‘Master of Science has a nice ring to it. But, honestly, I don’t really care about impressing people with credentials. In the end, it’s all about the work you do. Your skills and work ethic. That’s why I care about and, generally, that’s what people remember.’

The 2022 Top 100 reflects this attitude. ‘It’s not about who is the most famous ceo or who has the biggest turnover. Sure, these are factors,’ Wanjala says. ‘Ultimately, we want to shine a light on people’s expertise, resourcefulness and discipline to keep pushing the envelope – on whatever scale, in whatever country.’

She notes that pride, above all, is a key ingredient when describing the people working in recycling. ‘That’s what makes scrap such a fascinating industry to be in!’

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