Elroy St.Jago – Management Trainee at Van Hessen

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Hello, Ni Hao, Goedenmorgen! – A Van Hessen Trainee week

Monday: The Factory

I am currently in Shanghai for a three week visit to our company and the factory (workshop) where selection of casings takes place. Selection is how we add value to our casings. So I am here to learn all about casings, selection, and the global casings market.

I am picked up from the hotel by the shuttle bus and we drive to the office. The office is on the same grounds as the workshops, and after a cup of coffee I go to one of the workshops. Today I am starting a new phase of my training, and so it is an exciting day with new products and a lot of information. I am currently learning about our selection aimed at the Japanese market. So in the workshop, I am focusing on our casings, the processes and our final products.  Next to that, there are plenty opportunities to talk to colleagues that are active in the Japanese market. They’ve explained a lot about the market in general, customers, and their own experiences in Japan.

Afterwards, it’s time to go back. The weather is good, about 25°C, so it’s a quick bite outside, to the gym and then back to the hotel.

Tuesday:  International context

Today colleagues from the USA are also in Shanghai. Last weekend I’ve met them for dinner & drinks and so now it’s time to go to the workshop together. We make a tour and for me this is a nice way to learn about “their” part of the company.

After lunch it’s time to go back to the workshop by myself. I will continue with our Japanese selection. What’s very interesting is that our input is from Australia, we then process this in China, and finally the casings are sold in Japan. After my visit to the workshop, I grab a cup of coffee with an ex-trainee. She spent time in Australia, China & Japan, and she can tell me a lot about the whole supply chain, so from Australian raw material input, to the final sausage in Japan. I think that this is very nice during the traineeship: the international context, the different people & cultures, and the interplay between.

Wednesday:  Selection

Today I go to the workshop by myself. I have to finish up my selection training for this week. I spend most of the day in the workshop and I am pretty satisfied my progress. I have to finish up today as it is almost weekend, on a Wednesday.  Tomorrow is a free day in China, called Tomb Sweeping Day. During Tomb Sweeping, Chinese families come together to: visit the tombs of their relatives, clean the tombs, pray, and make ritual offerings. The Chinese government has decided that everybody is also free on Friday and Saturday and that Sunday is a regular working day. So it’s basically a long weekend, during the week.

I must say that I am looking forward to the free days. There’s is a nice plan for the days off! After work it’s time to go to the train station and take the high speed train to Beijing!

Thursday & Friday & Saturday– Trip to Beijing & Great Wall

Last night we arrived in Beijing to go and hike on the Great Wall. I am on a group trip with a colleague (an ex-trainee) and others. We are on our way to a two-day trip where we will hike on the Great Wall, with a night of camping on a watch tower on the wall. This was a very unique trip! One of the benefits of a traineeship at an international company 😉

Saturday, back in Shanghai, is a mixed work/relax day. Every week I write a report on what I’ve seen, done and learned during the week. This I will discuss with my (local) tutor. This helps clear up the last questions, and is a nice summary for later. There’s a nice coffee place with a “homely” feeling right around the corner so this is where I usually write the report. After finishing up,   it’s time for dinner & gym, before going back to the hotel.

Sunday – First day of the week 

Today is a very unusual day. It is not every week that I wake up at 6.30am on a Sunday morning. As we just had the 3-day “weekend” the week starts again on Sunday. Today is still a bit quiet in the office. It feels even more so, because from tomorrow on, many others will visit. There will be colleagues from The Netherlands, and colleagues from our Brazilian office. Personally I like that there are many other visitors as well. It’s a good way to get a global picture of our company.

For me the beginning of a new week means it’s time to visit another workshop (=different raw materials, processes and products). It’s exciting to learn about processes, products & markets, and this is what I’ll be doing the coming week. One thing is for sure, there will be plenty to learn!

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