Thomas Yu Takes Over IULTCS Presidency from Dietrich Tegtmeyer
Interview with Dr Dietrich Tegtmeyer, former President of IULTCS, term 2016/2017
The term now is over, what do you think, if you look back to your time as president of IULTCS?
There is a long list of 33 famous and important former presidents in the archive. Especially in the last 10 years my predecessors have done a great job and have significantly further developed the roles and responsibilities of IULTCS in the global leather industry. It’s a great honour to me personally to see my name added to this list of eminent past presidents.
From my point of view we have continued this successful path forward in encouraging the young people to innovate our business, to encourage them to exchange and publish results, to set the right scientific frame work in setting new testing standards and responding to industry challenges. To answer your question: I have a positive feeling when reviewing my term, and I am convinced we are on the right track.
Let’s be more specific, what have been the major achievements during that period of time?
There are several items to be mentioned:
First: the most important event during everyone’s term is the International Congress; early in 2017 our Indian colleagues organised a fantastic event. For 2 ½ days the Leather Community was invited to Chennai; the venue, the programme, the cultural interactions - the entire event was perfectly organised. I only heard positive feedback from delegates – thanks again to our friends from India.
Externally, we further developed our fruitful interaction within the Global Leather Coordination Committee, where IULTCS has the role to support all efforts from the scientific point of view. I think this forum increasingly acts as an efficient platform and voice for our industry. We have organised several responses to unfair attacks against leather and incorrect labelling issues; we have jointly positioned ourselves to answer important questions such as those related to animal welfare (see ICT homepage), and have proactively supported industry efforts to deal with the permanent moving target of restricted substances and the ongoing chromium debate.
Even internally we have undertaken a tremendous amount of good work. Let me mention some important examples: under the lead of Thierry Poncet the Environmental Commission has developed and published a new “Guideline for Minimum Environmental Standards”; the Chair of the R&D Commission, Luis Zugno, has rolled out and established the “Young Leather Scientist Grant” (YLSG) a very successful award programme; the Leather Test Methods Commissions chaired by Campbell Page, Karine Lio and Mike Wilson have, besides several updates of existing ISO Standards, participated in the development of a new “ageing test method for chrome tanned leather” and a new fair method for determining restricted fluorochemicals in leather; the Training Commission, where the Chair has been passed on to Ivan Kral from UNIDO, tries to align the UNIDO e-learning programme with our IULTCS training efforts; and last, but not least, the Liaison Commission, which was passed on from its founder Elton Hurlow to Christine Powley-Williams, has always made sure, that all news gets published in a proper way. All this can be looked up and followed on our excellent new website – www.IULTCS.org. Let me also use this opportunity to express my thanks to all Chairs, there was a lot of work behind the achievements, and everyone did this work in his/her spare time.
How do you value the future role of IULTCS in the leather industry?
In general, I have to say the three associations representing the Leather Industry, ICT, ICSHLTA and IULTCS are all important and complementary to each other. As pointed out above IULTCS represents the R&D community of the Leather Industry and advises the GLCC and the Industry with scientific based assessments and conclusions, pushes for innovation and develops robust ISO-leather testing methods. This role is not going to change; we have a professional succession programme in place. I am glad, that with our new President Thomas Yu and Vice President Luis Zugno, we were able to find two internationally experienced new officers for the upcoming 4 years. With locations at Dresden/Germany 2019 and Addis Ababa/Ethiopia 2021 we have selected two excellent choices for the upcoming Congresses. Therefore, I’m confident that IULTCS will continue to play an important role in the future of our industry.
Finally, do you want to make still a short personal note on your term as IULTCS president?
For nearly 30 years of my professional career I have worked in R&D related functions in the chemical industry. After nearly two decades of passionate work relationships in the leather business, it was of course a great honour for me to be elected to take over the presidency of the International Union for Leather Technologists and Chemist Societies. Although I am already reaching the late 50s I still have learned a lot of new things and I was able to make many new friends and establish lots of working relationships during this time. It also has taken quite some time from my business life, therefore I want to thank very much my employer, LANXESS, which always granted me the necessary time to do this job and be available for important events and meetings all over the world.
Interview with Thomas C. J. Yu, President of IULTCS, Term 2018/2019, Senior Consultant of TILA (Taiwanese International Leather Association)
First of all Thomas, Congratulations for your election as 35th president of IULTCS. As not everyone in the industry might be familiar with your person, could you just quickly introduce yourself to our readers.
Thomas Yu: I started my career in the leather industry in 1997 and I worked as technical service at Jollity Enterprise, a leather chemicals provider first, changed to R&D later within the company. I became General Manager in 2007 and we are actually going to celebrate our 50th years of the company in 2018. The more I got into leather industry the more fascinating things I discovered. In 2008 I joined TILA and became actively involved in all activities. I became vice secretary general in TILA in 2010, secretary general in 2012 and my current position in TILA is senior consultant. I engaged in the interactivities with tanners, leather product makers (shoe upper, handbags and upholstery), traders and chemical suppliers even government related departments during my service time in TILA. When TILA joined IULTCS in 2009, I became the representative of TILA together with Prof. George Hwang in IULTCS. We actively participated in all the IULTCS Congress and AICLST Conferences and almost all the meetings in order to support IULTCS and provide opinions and suggestions from TILA.
Looking ahead, what are your goals for your term in office?
Thomas Yu: It is an honor and great responsibility to be elected 35th President. As we look back to the achievements of those past presidents, to name only three: Patrizia Casey, Prof. Bi Shi and Dr. Dietrich Tegtmeyer , I can only hope I can follow their steps and walk together with all the IULTCS members to accomplish the tasks that lay ahead of IULTCS. My mind is full of passion and ambivalence at the same time.
However, I always believe that we can influence and change people through participation and interaction. I will keep doing so and wish to bring IULTCS to be more actively involved and more influential in the leather industry.
The goals of IULTCS have never changed since the date the Union was founded. I reckon I will just follow this path with all my enthusiasm, energy and knowledge. We have to focus on the following goals:
1. Connection: In times of globalization and division of labor throughout the world, we need to connect and integrate more national leather science and technology organizations. Additionally, we also need to connect to up- and downstream organizations related to the leather industry that need scientific support or can give support to the leather industry.
2. Communication: With information available fast and on a global scale (may it be right or wrong) the common consumer becomes a prosumer who is taking influence on the process of manufacturing, product design and quality. This is why we should take an active role as advisors to discuss scientific information with consumers in order to build trust and transparency. We should act as organizers for discussion, education, public discourse, we need to openly and proactively approach organizations or even individuals who want to know more about leather technology and evolution or have doubts and opposite opinions about leather technology.
3. Contribution: As a major international leather science organization, we should continue to support or sponsor programs such as YLSC (Young Leather Scientist Grant), UNIDO e-learning, ISO testing method improvement and development. Even more, we should act as host to invite organization or individuals who are willing to contribute and support leather science and society.
4. Collaboration: To the benefit of our industry as a whole we need a closer collaboration and sharing with the Global South rather than being patronizing. Bad practices, environment scandals, animal suffering, bad working conditions, you name it, harm our industry as a whole. Consumers especially in industrial nations became very sensitive to these issues no matter where these things happen and threaten to opt out leather altogether. We commonly have to take responsibility on a global scale.
One of the highlights of each term of presidency is an IULTCS International Congress, hosted biennial by a different national society of IULTCS on a different continent. In your term of office falls the 2019 Congress in Dresden, Germany. What do you expect of the Congress and your German colleagues?
Thomas Yu: Well, I think we all agree that the IULTCS International Congress is an institution when it comes to leather science and technology. Being on the European continent gives us the chance to enlarge the circle of participants especially from downstream industries, major European car manufacturers, upholstery and shoe industry and global Europe based brands and retailer. This would add a broader view to all groups of participants and provide for an extended dialogue.
As for the setting of the Congress my German colleagues made an excellent choice. I think, everyone in the industry is looking forward to it and so do I. Though, our Indian and Brazilian colleagues raised the bar fairly high, I expect our host, VGCT, to organize an excellent event to the benefit of our industry.