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Caroline Stern

Head of Circularity, Hilti

Caroline Stern is Head of Circularity at Hilti, focusing on the Electric Tools and Accessories division. With a company goal to “lead the industry in Circularity”, the team is driving opportunities ranging from product design and material selection, through business model innovations and to collection & recycling systems for tools and batteries. Passionate about the Circular Economy since learning about it on the McKinsey Intranet 6 years ago, Caroline has a varied background in operational improvement, strategic consulting and industry research. Caroline specialized in improving production capacity and raw material yield, helping to drive step-change improvement on resource use in food, chemicals and transport industries across Europe. Originally from Brazil, Caroline has been living in Zürich for the past four years and speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish and German.

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The demand for green building is being driven from both fronts

Caroline Stern, Head of Circularity at Hilti, sees a lot of potential in their Fleet model of leasing equipment and tools with repair, management, return logistics and loss replacement included. With these factors integrated, the design of products is also affected, keeping in mind the importance of collection, return, and avoiding breakdowns. This system also eliminates waste, as tools are never discarded, but sent back. A challenge this approach presents is communicating the new system and shifting customers' mindsets, however it also emphasizes that what is really necessary is not the tool, but rather the service it provides. With the rapid growth of the construction sector and the integration of digitalization, the importance of having access to a complete toolset grows as well. A more environmentally friendly approach is desired not only by companies, but also by their consumers. The demand for green building and knowing what goes into buildings is being driven from both fronts.