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SNAPSHOT: 20 years Leading Nordson Impact

Cecilia Render
Cecilia Render celebrates 20 years with Nordson

 

Congratulations on your 20th year with Nordson! When you started at the company On May 17, 1999, did you have any idea you'd still be making such an Impact?

It is really hard to believe that I have been here that long!  To some Nordson employees, 20 years probably seems like a really long time, to others, a drop in the bucket.  It's funny because growing up I always said I would never work for corporate America.  But Nordson changed that feeling because I saw it then, as I see it now, as a corporation with a heart.  I have had an opportunity to speak with many of you over the years and you feel the same way.  It is Nordson's value of supporting our communities that brought you here and has kept you here.

What made an impression on you during your early years?

I had the honor and privilege to meet Evan and Eric Nord before they passed away.  You could not ask to meet anyone as kind and humble as they were.  It is their philosophy on corporate citizenship that brought me here and it is my distinct honor to be able to carry on their philanthropic spirit.

What is one of your favorite Nordson Impact memories?

I always like when I get to interact with students.  But I remember one time we were on a board site tour, so it was the executive team, and we were visiting what is now one of our national programs, Tech Corp.  It was the first day and the technology wasn't working right and John Keane pulled up a chair and sat with the students helping them to get the program up and running.  I'll never forget that.

What has changed about the Nordson Corporation in the past 20 years?

2019 marks 30 years of the Nordson Corporation Foundation.  There has been a foundation at Nordson for as long as there has been a Nordson. The corporate foundation was established as its own entity - separate from the family foundation – in 1989. 

Over that 30 years we have invested over $100 million into the communities where we live and work.  If you are not familiar with the workings of corporate foundations you may not understand what a big deal that is.  Most corporations give about 1 – 1 ½ % of profits to charitable causes, Nordson gives 5% of pretax domestic profits to charity!  Over the 20 years that I have been here that 5% has gone from $2 million a year to a little over $10 million last year.  As Nordson grows, our charitable giving grows. What could be better than that?

As Nordson has grown, how has it impacted the Nordson Corporation Foundation?

Let me give you an example. Around 2014 Nordson made several acquisitions. Because we give 5% of our pre-tax profits to charity, the growth we achieved due to those acquisitions meant our foundation giving grew from $4 million to $8 million in that year alone. That was scary!  We debated how could we responsibly increase our giving that quickly without just throwing money around.  We managed it by growing slowly, adding $2 million a year instead of spending irresponsibly. 

The other scary part of growth for me is serving an employee base that has more than doubled in number and locations.  Twenty years ago, we had about 4 giving programs set up across the country, this year we are giving in 15 locations domestically and 11 internationally.  Trying to build programs that will keep employees engaged and the Nordson philanthropic value system at the forefront of who we are can be difficult. 

How do you determine where we invest philanthropically?

Everyone has different interests and ideas of where we should invest in our communities. We have to be supportive, while also sticking to Nordson's mission and values.  We have to be able to show that our efforts do not subtract from the bottom line but help to support it.  Investing in our communities is in Nordson's DNA and we should never try to change that. It is who we are, how we differentiate ourselves from the competition.  We cannot just say it is who we are, we have to show that it is who we are. 

I heard again today, from a relatively new employee, that it is our value of giving back that drew him here, we want to make sure it is also what keeps him here.   Research shows that happy, engaged employees are productive employees.

How do you think the Nordson Impact will expand internationally?

My hope is that we will be able to offer all the Nordson Impact programs to all employees, no matter where they are located.  We aren't there yet but we'll figure it out.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Nordson?

We want to allow for everyone to be their authentic self at work, but remember to bring your best authentic self.  The workforce is changing and we have to embrace that, being accepting and supportive of everyone around us is part of that philanthropic value of the Nords.  Everyone is deserving of our respect and support whether it be a co-worker, a vendor or a community partner, and that is what makes Nordson such a great place to work.  We understand that a business without a heart does not prosper.

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