Marie, why do you believe in the future viability of steel and especially in climate-neutral steel?
We have no alternative but to stop the climate catastrophe. We agree on this socially, and we at thyssenkrupp Steel must also make our contribution. This includes changing our processes so that we no longer emit CO2.
You say that you have the coolest industrial job in Germany. Why is that?
First, we have a huge impact at thyssenkrupp Steel. Therefore, also myself, with the responsibility for this area. We currently emit 2.5 percent of all German CO2 emissions. If we change that, we will make a major contribution to climate protection. That alone is totally appealing and it's just fun when you have a vision like that in front of your eyes while you go to work every day.
After studying metallurgy and materials engineering at RWTH Aachen University, you didn't go straight into the industry but worked for a management consultancy for a long time. Why is that?
Metallurgy is a very specialized field of study that helped me develop my skills. After that, I wanted to think outside the box and broaden my horizons. That worked out well in a consulting firm. I was able to get to know different industries, travel and work. And that's what I did.
How does this experience help you in your current job?
I think dealing with complexity and making new situations workable are skills that I brought with me from management consulting. That still helps me a lot today. However, the metallurgical and technical knowledge helps me understand how processes work. At the end of the day, we have to become technically climate-neutral, not just on PowerPoint slides.
What steps have already been implemented to achieve this?
Before we start building direct reduction plants soon, we carried out initial trials in the blast furnace. We injected hydrogen to first understand how hydrogen behaves in metallurgy. We are also testing various feedstocks in the blast furnace, for example, scrap or pre-reduced iron, to save CO2 even today in the existing plant park.
How are the plans received by the workforce, and how do you motivate your colleagues to go along with the process?
The future strategy of thyssenkrupp Steel has been very well received. I think most colleagues have simply understood that we have to change the way we work. The foundations have been laid, and that's why there's a lot of support among the workforce to work on this and move forward.
Finally, a personal question. Do you have a favorite place at thyssenkrupp Steel? And if so, why is this place so important to you?
I did an internship at thyssenkrupp during my studies; I was in steel mill 2, the so-called Ox2, in Duisburg-Beeckerwerth. Back then, I worked with the engineers for about half a year and was able to investigate all corners of the steel mill. Today, I sometimes take visitors on tours of the plant. And then I still like to stand there and watch the converters being filled and emptied. That still gives me pleasure.
Marie Jaroni, thank you very much for this interesting interview. And all the best for your exciting task.
The interview with Dr. Marie Jaroni is an excerpt from a german interview for the steel podcast "gekocht gewalzt, veredelt".