Special Harm 40jr bij Nutreco
Op 1 september 2020 was Harm 40jr in dienst bij Nutreco en dit was tevens het moment van pensionering. Een Amerikaanse editor heeft toen Harm geinterviewed over zijn carriere bij Nutreco. Dit artikel, gelardeerd met foto's verscheen op Nutranet, het intranet van Nutreco, een bedrijf met ruim 12000 medewerkers en ca 110 fabrieken in Azië, Afrika, Europa, Australië, Zuid-, Midden- en Noord Amerika.
Interview with HSE Director Nutreco Harm Teunissen
After 40 years, Harm Teunissen is retiring from Nutreco. We were able to catch up with him to look back on his time with the company, and talk to him about how Nutreco has changed since, what are some of his favorite memories and his best advice for the future.
You've been with the company since before Nutreco even existed! What are you most proud of from your long career?
“To be honest, I'm proud of the entire 40 years. I've done an awful lot.
My first role, back when Nutreco was a minor part of BP, was focused on project and capex management, building new factories and offices.
“When, after a restructuring, BP Nutrition became one of only four business groups at BP, we went from being obscure and small to having more attention focused on us. At the time, there were several big accidents around the world – for example, the Piper Alpha explosion in 1988 with over 150 casualties – so BP wanted to increase its attention on safety. The other groups had huge safety departments, but our group had nothing. So, I was asked to build the safety and environmental function from scratch. The group was more complex then: we had 23,000 people, 268 factories and even consumer food (meat and sausage) factories and a detergent division! It was a completely decentralized group of independent companies. To my surprise, in 1989 I was named head of one of the six head office functions. I am proud to have been able to help us ensure employees' safety and improve occupational health and environmental performance across the company since then.
“During the creation and buyout from BP, I remember the management conference in Belgium where we discussed the name of the new company. CEO Richard van Wijnbergen asked attendees from all different countries to pronounce the name, to make sure it was usable all over the world. I remember everyone pronounced it right except one guy who pronounced it “NUtrico” instead of “NuTREYco. I was proud of the part I played in helping us get 35 million guilders in operational and HSE indemnities after the creation of Nutreco. Such even though no-one at Nutreco had any belief in success – it helped us to be able to go public more quickly, already in 1997, which made life easier financially. It was funny that schedule 15 that concerned financial indemnities and that was addressed by a large group of Nutreco staff and external experts delivered nothing where the schedule 17 indemnities that was addressed by only me was that successful. It also helped improving my English as I filed 83 claims and had to deal with English lawyers and the exact wording of the claims and communication is crucial..
“There were a lot of changes in strategy over the years. Nutreco gradually became more centralized. Streamlining procurement was one of the first areas of focus – which makes sense as up to 70% of the cost of compound feed is in procurement. I was appointed to start organizing and oversee our indirect procurement – for example, for energy, which makes up one-third of production costs. We were able to save a lot of money by being one of the first companies to switch to hourly energy contracts and be strategic about using energy. We also moved toward more sustainable energy sources and renewables.
“I am also proud of my involvement in all M&A and capex projects. My first M&A trip was in 1985 to the USA for the acquisition of a meat packing company in Indiana. Flying was not that common as nowadays. No cell phones, no laptops, far less security. Not all M&A was successful, but the successful M&A projects helped creating the Nutreco we know today.
“I'm also proud of the huge improvement in Health and Safety; not only how the plants have improved and are still improving but also ‘Safety First' and attention for matters like manual handling and the handling and processing of hazardous materials. Yet the topic will always need attention. We are not there yet.
“But above all else, I feel that my biggest accomplishment at Nutreco came when I was told by people reporting to me that I was the best boss they ever had. That means more to me than anything.”
You also led Nutreco's first venture into sustainability reporting – how did that come about and what was the response from the outside world?
“In 1999, there was a lot of pressure for companies to increase transparency around sustainability. And reporting of sustainability performance took off internationally with the start of the Global Reporting Initiative. So, Nutreco's CEO, Wout Dekker, asked me to set up sustainability reporting for the company. I worked with the communications team to create a report – I was in charge of developing a reporting format and organizing the recording and reporting throughout Nutreco and consolidating all that into a report – and it was awarded as the best first-time report!”
How has the company changed over the years, and what have you learned from being a part of it?
“In the 1990s I was also in charge of security, including Information security. When I first started at BP, we had pencils, paper, and typewriters; our first personal computers came in 1983 and were slowly introduced across the company. I led the Y2K project, to prepare for the potential that computers would fail and factory operations would collapse during the changeover to 2000. It was an interesting project which, in the end, was useless but like every other company we had to prepare for it! One thing I've learned over the years is that computer systems are a great and essential tool to help us work but we need to always bear in mind that they're there to help people, and are not an objective in themselves.
“Another big change that's taken place in the company has been the automation of factories and the connection between administrative systems and manufacturing systems. The Unite project, which started around 10 years ago and is still being implemented, enables us to look at our individual factories in a combined way, to better plan and coordinate manufacturing and logistics.
“The people have changed – there now are many more people who have short-term careers at the company and move on than in the past. They have a lesser connection with the company. I believe it's important to have a good balance of people who have worked at a company for a long time as well as fresh blood that shakes things up.”
What is the most important advice you could give us for the future?
“In addition to all Nutreco's values, in the end, trust is the most important. If you can trust a supplier, you will probably go back to them because you know they will help you. It is the same with colleagues, reports and bosses.
“It's also important to always have empathy for others, and see the other party's point of view and understand and appreciate differences in culture. Listen to what they have to say. But at some point it's necessary to stop discussing things and move on – and that the fact of moving is more important than the actual direction, as long as you can correct the direction later.”
Are there any final words you would like to say?
“I would like to thank everyone at Nutreco for their wonderful hospitality as I've travelled around the company all these years. For me it was an honor to work for Nutreco – I had a lot of fun and met a lot of nice people around the world – and we have come a long way from where we started. For me it's time to move on and leave the playground for other people to keep moving us further forward.”
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