People in Lighting: Michèle-Cerise Soors

Michèle-Cerise Soors
Michèle-Cerise Soors
Marketing Manager Sustainability Solutions

Companies are defined by the people who work for them: for over a century, Schréder has been at the forefront of sustainable lighting thanks to the innovative thinking of its employees worldwide. This series focuses on the people who make Schréder what it is, discussing their career path, landmark projects and thoughts on what comes next for the lighting industry.

Sustainability has always been one of Schréder’s fundamental values. Our products have always been built to last: luminaires we installed in the 1970s are still going strong. Our people constantly push the boundaries of lighting, setting local and international standards for sustainability. We review every aspect of our operations, preserving the earth’s resources and reducing energy requirements with low-carbon technologies. 

We minimise our environmental footprint and help our customers to do the same. As there is currently no standard certification for circular economy compliance in the lighting industry, Schréder created one internally. In 2009 we launched the Green Light Label, and updated it in 2019 to reflect circularity criteria. By 2023, 100% of new product releases were achieving the highest score of 4 stars.

Michèle-Cerise Soors, our Marketing Manager for Sustainability Solutions is instrumental in this work. She represents us at Agoria, an association that paves the way for Belgian companies to develop and market sustainable solutions worldwide. Passionate about sustainability, she has put circularity on the agenda at every stage of the lighting process.

I was born in the Philippines and grew up between two cultures…

My dad is Belgian, my mum is from the Philippines and we moved here when I was three. Growing up like that way really opens your mind to everything that's going on; in Belgium, you have everything, whereas in the Philippines it is much more simple. There, we had nothing, but we could do everything. It showed me that you don’t have to have to buy things to be happy, made me open to different cultures, and gave me a love of travelling and exploring.

I studied in Liège, doing Arts before switching to International Business…

I then became Sales and Export Manager in a prominent steel company. I navigated the complexities of the steel industry, which is a leader in sustainability. I worked mostly with secondary, third and fourth grade material - the things prime users don't want. But this is steel that is fit for purpose, it’s just not aesthetically perfect. It can be put behind a wall! The steel industry is already a circular, sustainable industry because it has turned waste into a resource. You can sell the waste, and you can recycle steel infinitely.

I transitioned to an engineering company… 

We focused on providing energy efficiency solutions for industries, where you can reduce your energy consumption or make smarter choices about how you use it. If I can do something in my job that makes life better for the planet, the environment and people, that’s what I want to be doing. So it was an obvious decision to apply for the position of Marketing Manager Sustainabilty Solutions at Schréder; I love being responsible for products and services that enable both our company and our customers to reduce our environmental impact.

Now I lead our sustainability journey…

I work alongside a team of like-minded professionals, knowing that we are making a tangible difference for a more sustainable world. My work focuses on integrating circular economy principles into our business practices, ensuring that resources are used effectively and waste is minimised. By promoting the use of sustainable materials and innovative technologies, I strive to drive environmental and economic benefits for the company.

Schréder regularly organises workshops including a Climate Fresk to improve circularity
Schréder regularly organises workshops to improve its sustainability strategy. Last year, we even did a Climate Fresk.


There’s no such thing as a typical day…

I have different projects I’m working on; I'm trying to implement all the circular economy guidelines for our R&D teams and the designers. Can we reduce materials, use a smarter design, switch components to bioplastics? Can we make products more modular, more circular? What can we improve in terms of sustainability and environmental impact when it comes to everything around the project, like manufacturing or packaging? 

We also look at business models related to the circular economy, such as making products more serviceable, offering an ongoing service rather than a one-off solution. In the circular economy, the main goal is to reduce waste as much as possible. Recycling is actually a last resort; it's good that you can recycle but if you can reuse, remanufacture, repair or rebuild, that's better.

Schréder has a strong commitment to sustainability and innovation which matches my own values…

I have a very positive view of Schréder. They are constantly pioneering new technologies that significantly improve energy efficiency. There’s a collaborative and inclusive working environment where employees are valued and encouraged to grow. Partly because it’s a family-run company, they always have sustainability in mind. This commitment is embodied in our Together for Our Future strategy. Lastly, the entrepreneurial mindset that the company encourages is really inspiring and makes it an exciting place to work!

Having like-minded colleagues makes it easier to implement these principles in the business…

People are receptive to the ideas behind the circular economy. I run workshops on product design, and our designers incorporate these circular principles into their thinking. Also, I do a lot of webinars or team meetings where we discuss what we are doing for our customers. They are the ones who deploy our products, and the use phase still represents 97% of our total carbon footprint according to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol. And I have a little community called the Circular Hub where I have some Circular Champions who help to spread the message.

I am proud that sustainable solutions are at the heart of Schréder’s vision…

Whether through the use of more sustainable materials, energy-efficient technologies, or innovative solutions like our retrofit kits, we are making a positive difference. The designers, sales teams and customers are all shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy. Changing mindsets is not easy, and I am proud to know that it is happening. And being part of a team that spans different cultures and backgrounds allows us to achieve greater impact collectively.

Schréder retrofits luminaires with good housing to enable customers to be more sustainable
Schréder can retrofit the optics of a luminaire with good housing to enable customers to be more sustainable.


And the impact…  

I find it incredibly rewarding to contribute to initiatives that promote the efficient use of resources and minimise waste. And the impact isn’t just about energy use and resources. Used wisely, today’s technology makes it possible to minimise light pollution, while still providing ample illumination. We have two systems: Pure Night and FlexiWhite, which allow customers to respect flora and fauna. Pure Night is perfect for ecological zones, such as habitats for bats and insects, which need protection from artificial light. FlexiWhite switches the light colour based on sensor detection, to protect fauna and flora while ensuring human safety and comfort.

Outside of work, I’m fascinated by nature…

We grow our own vegetables and keep chickens at home. When my partner and I travel, it’s all about nature. We are both scuba divers, I’m a technical diver and have been to some incredible places including lakes in Chechnya, Hawaii, the Maldives and Djibouti to see whale sharks. On land, we go climbing and mountain biking. There are some really, really beautiful places on our planet and I'm glad that my work helps to preserve them for us all.

Connect with Michèle-Cerise on LinkedIn