"A day in the Life of Mohamed Bangura"
Mohamed looks as if he just walked out of a gutroom. He still wears the plastic blue net around his head. We’ll hardly have to ask him what a day in his life looks like or so it seems. Cutting and gutting. Harvesting of casings is a specialism that requires great skill. But there is so much more that makes this man very special. As an immigrant from Sierra Leone, he has managed to make this skill his own like no other. Within the entire group he is known for his expertise in all eighteen specialized skills in the gutroom.
Even though the gutroom is Mohamed’s daily work environment, he often changes locations. For Van Hessen, Mohamed is so valuable that they employ him in as many gutrooms as possible to ensure that other employees are trained to (approximately) his level of expertise.
That’s why Mohamed is regularly commissioned to Spain, Germany, Belgium, England and even the United States as a kind of flying doctor. When abroad, there’s no time for sightseeing. For three to four weeks he will spend all his time in the gutroom to teach people his skills. Cutting casings is not exactly an easy job. Before you know it there are holes in the casing, which is fatal. And if you try to compensate for it, you easily get the thready stuff that consumers don’t like. Van Hessen has developed a knife, but it can only be used effectively by specialists.
When Mohamed teaches his “masterclass”, his students are not allowed to touch the knife at all during the first week. After that they may do so but only when Mohamed holds their hands. Literally. “They learn the technique only by feeling my arm movements and moving along with it. After a month, they are able to hold the knife. That’s about it,” chuckles Mohamed. “It takes about a year of practice to get good at it.”
Mohamed is a good example of why people take centerstage with Van Hessen. You invest so much work and time in one individual. That knowledge and experience is precious. When the people in the gutroom don’t perform well, it has consequences for Van Hessen. For this reason, you will only see highly skilled people.
Among those highly skilled people, Mohamed still stands out. No wonder he is valued so highly. However, Mohamed realizes well that it is in the interest of the company that other employees achieve his command of this specialism too. For this reason, his main activity is to check employees. In those far away places that Mohamed cannot visit regularly, he therefore attempts to achieve something beyond the regular training he does: “I try to spot special talents and turn them into future controllers, so they can continue my job when I’m not there.” Mohamed has a way with people. In The United States, for instance, he encountered quite a bit of resistance during the introduction of the new knife. Everybody thought the knife was hard to work with. Mohamed then used all his people skills to successfully convince them that the knife was the way to go.
Mohamed is a humble man with a great heart. Once every two years, he returns to the village of his birth in Sierra Leone. However, it’s not nice to return empty-handed. That’s why Mohamed always sends a container full of secondhand clothing to announce his trip. He then sells whatever is needed to cover his expenses. The rest he simply gives away: “Well, I already have enough and people there could use every bit of help.”
Every two years Mohamed sends a container with secondhand clothing to Sierra Leone to help the local population. Every contribution is welcome and will help to fill the next container with better products.