Elena Snezhko: I see how the cities where SIBUR is present are changing

22 february 2023

In our February interview with Elena Snezhko, Head of the Formula for Good Deeds, SIBUR's social investment program, run in the “About People and Good Deeds” column, we are discussing principal achievements of the program that has just turned 7 years old, while providing a lowdown on why it is worthwhile joining the extended community of the Formula for Good Deeds.

Elena, the Formula for Good Deeds has recently turned 7. What have been the program’s principal achievements over these years?
- I have been in charge of the Formula for Good Deeds since 2019. Over these several years, the program’s scope has really expanded, while the program itself has become better structured.

I believe that one of the key achievements of the program is our
corporate volunteering movement that has already been joined by nearly 10,000 SIBUR employees. I remember the times when there were only 2,000 volunteers involved in our program.

The Formula for Good Deeds has gained recognition in our professional community where we are regarded as something of a benchmark, we’re being looked up to, and we have also been regular winners of various industry contests and awards.

The Formula for Good Deeds has made a noticeable contribution to enhancing the prominence of SIBUR's positive image as an attractive employer. Many people get to learn about our company thanks to our program's activities.

We have learned to quickly reconfigure our program whenever the need to do so arises. To give you an example, last year we complemented it with a separate new focus area of
Inclusion and it has been evolving in leaps and bounds ever since.

But, arguably, the most important achievement of the Formula for Good Deeds is that it has been a driver of positive change in our cities by changing the residents' attitude towards their own home towns. By implementing our various initiatives, we have been able to increase the competence of our local activists in a truly dramatic way.

Is the Formula for Good Deeds more akin to a job that drains your energy or is it something that fills you with positive energy and emotions?
- It is hard to give you a straightforward answer to this question. Preparations that mostly remain unseen do take away a lot of one’s energy. This includes drafting contracts, developing and getting the buy-in for our concepts, dealing with routine administrative issues. This takes 90% of the time spent on each project. But, that said, the time that I spend taking part in our events and campaigns when I can feel the positive mood of the people who are in attendance, certainly fills me with a lot of newfound strength and energy. So, in the end, these energy gains and losses balance each other out, so to speak.

Do you have any favorite projects that have been implemented as part of the program? Can you name them?
- Of course, there are always projects that resonate with you more than others. This includes
our joint program that we have been implementing with the State Theater of Nations, the You Can Do Anything! inclusion project, the Draw &Go initiative, The Art Formula project, and our Leadership Code fora. That said, I consider all initiatives of the Formula for Good Deeds to be meaningful and significant, because regardless of its scale any of our projects represents an important contribution to improving the quality of life in the regions where SIBUR conducts its operations.

Do you personally have any recipe or a method that you use for selecting projects that will receive your program’s support?
- I try to look at projects through the eyes of a typical member of the target audience, as a resident of a given city in order to better assess how valuable the opportunities presented by the project in question are going to be for me as that city’s resident, or whether I would find it interesting to attend
the Iconic Place festival that a partner of ours is offering to organize. Or whether it would be relevant for me should the Moscow Art Theatre School decide to hold an audition in a certain Siberian city.

SIBUR has been involved in an
educational project called Family as a Place of Power that the Company implements together with SOS Children's Villages. That is not the kind of project that businesses tend to get involved in. Why has SIBUR been supporting this initiative for quite a number of years?
- This project is unusual not only for us, but for
SOS Children's Villages as well. The original goal of the project was to upgrade competencies of social workers working with families in crisis in the city of Svobodny in Amur Oblast where a lot of SIBUR’s employees had relocated to work and live. So, it was important to create a comfortable social environment in the city. Right now, in addition to Amur Oblast, the project is being implemented in Nizhegorodskaya Oblast as well. We see that demand for advanced techniques and new knowledge in the field of psychology and the practice of counseling disadvantaged families keeps growing.

How many of the Formula for Good Deed’s events do you typically participate in throughout any given year? Do you keep track of that?
- Our program follows an annual cycle with the activity peaking up in March and staying that way all through December. I have already scheduled four business trips for March, each of them lasting three to four days. I try to attend the Formula for Good Deeds’ events in person whenever possible so that I can monitor our partners' efforts, understand the response of participants to our projects.

What kinds of events do you try to attend?
- I try to make sure that I attend the events put on by our new partners involved in implementing our interregional projects. I definitely take part in those activities where I am expected to make a speech as per the event’s script or program. I also try not to miss any events focusing on inclusion, such as those carried out under our Family is a Place of Power project.

In addition, I often speak at specialized fora and conferences, where I present the Formula for Good Deeds‘ best practices.

SIBUR boasts a vast community of corporate volunteers. Why do you think volunteering is so important for any company these days?
- I think that corporate volunteering’s growing popularity has a lot to do with generational shifts. The workforce is already being joined by those who represent the so-called Generation Z, known as zoomers. As I look at them, I realize that their motivation for choosing a particular job are different than mine once were. Back when I was looking for my first job, being able to find a place working for a big company was considered something of a blessing in and by itself, and no one asked you what it was that you really wanted. Things have definitely changed since then. For zoomers, their prospective employer’s reputation is key. They want to work for a socially responsible company and feel being a part of something big and good.

On top of that, by being part of the volunteering community they are able to develop strong peer-to-peer connections that may actually span across generations, which helps with faster onboarding.

Now let’s talk about those who have considered doing it but have not yet become a part of the Formula for Good Deeds community yet. Why is it important to be a part of the program?
- The Formula for Good Deeds is an opportunity to take action. Even if your entry in a contest of volunteering projects or in a grant contest does not end up getting supported, at least you will have made a crack at doing something, at trying to make a difference.

Corporate volunteers can opt for a variety of options where it comes to getting involved in the program. You don’t have to implement just your own initiatives. Instead, you can take part
in company-wide campaign, for example, or join a project run by your colleagues.

Where it comes to grant and interregional contests, we look at the merits of the idea behind each of the projects, not one’s experience in implementing such projects. That's why it's an excellent opportunity to bring your creative idea to fruition. This year, for example, we chose a new partner who had proposed an idea that merges conservation and inclusion. It is always a better option to apply and not win than not to try at all.

Our program is always eager to provide any necessary methodological support at all stages, and members of the Formula for Good Deeds’ team are always there to offer their advice and help, making sure that projects’ leaders are never left without their attention and support.

Is there anything you want to say in the way of giving your wishes and offering gratitude to the Formula for Good Deeds community?
- I would like to say "Thank you!" to our corporate volunteers for finding the time on their days off to perform their good deeds, especially those of them who work at production facilities, as they stand for more than a half of all of our employees.

I would also like to thank our grantees for the sustainability of their initiatives that have received support from SIBUR. We watch these organizations grow and become increasingly visible at the national level.
ParaPlan, an NGO organized by people confined to wheelchairs, and its leader Mikhail Chetvertakov, our partners in implementing an inclusive You can do anything! project, are one notable example.

I am grateful to our partners in implementing interregional projects for helping replicate their best practices in the regions where SIBUR operates and for sharing these practices with local activists. They are very enthusiastic and committed to cooperating with our company while striving to achieve the maximum effect possible from each of their activities.

And, of course, I would like to give my big thanks to the entire Formula for Good Deeds team for their very hard work and great efficiency.

In conclusion, let me ask you our traditional question about your further plans. What are your new projects that are you going to initiate this year? Will there be any changes to how the Formula for Good Deeds is being implemented?
- This year we will be launching a new initiative with an emphasis on inclusion, as a way of adding more weight to this focus area of the Formula for Good Deeds program.

We are also planning to hold our yet another one of our volunteering for a this year using an updated format. I am not going to give you any details yet, but let me just assure you that it will be something spectacular.

2023 will see the program’s geographic coverage widen with some of our projects scheduled to take place in Kazan for the first time. I intend to visit the Formula for Good Deeds’ events in this city to see how Kazan' residents respond to our initiatives.

In addition to our Formula for Good Deeds activities, we have big plans for
our Green Formula reforestation and climate action program that is being implemented as a separate track activity