‘I Love My Job’: I’m Empowered to Bring the Philosophy of ‘Believing in Better’ Into Everything I Do

Sponsored by Kohler Co.

Kayla Buszka

Photo courtesy of Kohler Co..

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April 12, 2024 at 8:9PM UTC

Welcome to I Love My Job, the series where we hear from real women who really love their jobs. In this edition, we sat down with Kayla Buszka, the Senior Project Leader of Sustainability and Stewardship at Kohler Co. — a manufacturing company.

One unique part of Kohler Co. is the fact that such a large business is family-owned, with a family that is “centered around educating the generations to come on the business and how the business works,” Buszka explains. And this strong leadership at Kohler Co. is one of Buszka’s favorite things about the company!

As Buszka shares, at Kohler Co., the leadership really cares about corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity and inclusion. There is a commitment to forward thinking, to being bold, and to operationalizing the commitments that are made. This aligns well with her own work style and needs. “I don't want boundaries, and I want leaders who really stand behind what they believe in,” Buszka tells us. “Here at Kohler, that is absolutely the case. Our leaders… challenge us to continue to be better. They challenge us to continue to push boundaries. And that enablement from our leadership is what allows so many associates across Kohler Co. to be successful.”

In short, Kohler Co. empowers employees to do great things while supporting all their innovative endeavors. “That is absolutely the golden ticket to make me happy and perform my best,” Buszka says.

In the video below, Buszka shares more on why she loves working at Kohler Co. We also provide lightly edited highlights from the video discussion in the following article.

Could you tell us about your journey at Kohler Co.?

I have been here for three years, which feels like a really long time because my career journey has been plentiful and bountiful.

I started off as a project coordinator for our sustainability team, and, honestly, it was a really great role for me because I came into the organization and [learned] everything I needed to know from the bottom up. It really gave me all the foundational skill sets that I needed, and I was lucky enough to progress through my role.

[From there,] I moved into a project leadership role during COVID-19…[and] I was able to work on some really great projects, like project managing Kohler’s 2021 Environmental Social and Governance Report, that have allowed me to move into a senior project leader role, which is so exciting…

One thing I love about Kohler Co. is that its business portfolio is so diverse. We have three different core businesses that we function in: the first is kitchen and bath, the second is our power business (engines and generators) and the third is our hospitality business (hotels, restaurants, golf courses, etc,)... In my role, I get to see each side of the business and what sustainability and corporate social responsibility looks like in all those spaces, which is really exciting.

What do you find most exciting about working at Kohler Co.?

I get to work with people who are as passionate about environmental sustainability as I am every day — that's something that I love and energizes me in my role. t.

In past jobs, when I was in college, I was working out in the field. My degree is in Conservation, Environmental Science, so I was literally on prairies, managing flowers and invasive species. And the one thing that was missing, although I was in beautiful nature all day, was people. I didn't get to connect with people.

[Now,] my job has me front and center, connecting with our over 40,000 associates globally at Kohler. In addition to that, I am personally inspired by our Believing In Better operating philosophy here at Kohler. And my job allows me to [not only] bring this philosophy into everything I do, but also to sprinkle the seeds of believing in better throughout the organization to activate our associates around this work, too…

I love my job. I truly find every essence of what I do so exciting. And every day is a new adventure that I love.

Could you describe the culture at Kohler Co.?

Our operating philosophy is believing in better — it's the belief that our best can always be better. To me, it means that we cannot accept the status quo and that we cannot settle for good, but that to be truly great we must be in constant pursuit of greatness. I'm a motivated and driven person and so that's really a personal mantra of mine as well. 

I remember when I was looking at a job at Kohler… and I saw just in big, bold letters, “Believing in Better,” in the Kohler bold logotype. And… that was the moment I knew Kohler would be an important place for me because it is  how I live my life, too. So, I think that is truly, honestly and effortlessly the culture at Kohler Co. and on our social impact team. And what it means to me is that every day, I'm sitting down at my desk and I'm thinking: How do I dream big today? How do I make things happen? How do I own it? How do I keep prioritizing the myriad of things that I have going on and keep driving forward? How do we do things differently?

I love the idea that we continue to look back on the work we've done. (We're an almost 150-year-old company, so we've done a lot of work in a lot of great things over the years!) And we challenge ourselves and say: How can we continue to be better? That is really in every part of my DNA and my job… We're constantly looking to delight our customers… [and] we're inspiring people and changing the world for the better along the way. Our culture at Kohler is full of wonderful and highly intelligent humans across the globe who truly care about what they do, where they work, and what Kohler stands for. It’s my job on our social impact team to help deliver on those promises for our associates and for our customers. 

How does Kohler Co. support you in regards to benefits and advancement opportunities?

When I look at benefits as an employee or an associate, I really think about so much more than just healthcare, dental, vision and a 401k. All of those are foundational, but I'm looking for something a little bit more…

[At Kohler Co.,] First, I need permission to be human.I love that when I come to my leaders and say that I need time to just rest and reflect or I've been overwhelmed and really busy, the first thing they say to me is: Why are you asking? Just go and take [that time] or Whatever you need, do it.. And I love that permission. I know that I'm fully empowered to be my best and show up my best self in every place that I need to by taking time to disconnect and to reflect and to grow and be better…

Another key thing that sticks out to me is when I look at, overall, how can I continue to grow as an individual? And, as a relatively young professional, it's the idea that Kohler's willing to invest in me. [For instance,] I've worked with my leaders this year to be a part of a new coaching program that's being offered locally. I'm really excited for it because the program I manage, Kohler’s Innovation for Good I-Prize, requires me to coach associates across Kohler and to help them develop their  innovative ideas to be able to pitch them to our top leaders to win incubation funding… In order to be my best for them, I must continue to invest in myself.

Whether it's attending trade shows or conferences, training for new knowledge and skill sets, or finding more customized programming based on what you are interested in… I've really seen that investment from Kohler and my leaders. 

What advice would you give to other women who are thinking about working at Kohler Co.?

Remember that you're the architect of your own experience at Kohler. One of the things that makes your experience really unique here is that you come into Kohler in your role, bringing the expertise and skill set that you [already] have, but you [also] have access to people across the company, three different types of businesses and many different skill sets that you could pick up on… We have a bold mentorship program that's in place so you can reach out and get mentorship from different associates across the company. There are a lot of skill-building opportunities, too… So, challenging yourself and learning new skill sets is really easy to do

There are a lot of resources here, and our 10 business resource groups, Like Women at Work, have chapters across the globe and are a great way for you to get involved and connected to communities that already exist at Kohler and therefore meet new people and friends along the way.

Check out other posts in the ‘I Love My Job’ series:

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