LBX, the Belgian affiliate of Lucchini RS in Belgium, is a 50-person company. It started from scratch in July 2014 and is now busy terminating its turn-around. All efforts are focused on wheelset overhaul, an activity started in 2015 after necessary investments and now weighing 1800 wheelsets per year.
Quality, as everywhere else in the group, is critical for success: wheels, axles, tyres, resilient wheels, wheelsets shall be fully compliant to their specifications, because quality is strongly correlated to the safety in service of the railway vehicles they equip. LBX had to substitute its Quality Manager, who decided to pursue other opportunities. We all know about the 1Company initiative and the endeavor to create a common culture shared in all the entities composing Lucchini RS. That’s why LBX posted a job opportunity of Quality Manager, in case a candidate already employed in one company of the group had an interest in coming over to Liege. In the meantime, an external research was also launched.
From Lucchini South Africa, Samu applied. Eager to try but aware of the inherent difficulties to relocate from South Africa to Belgium (culture, environment, language), LBX and LSA offered Samu a 3-month mission in Liege. It met two objectives: the mission plugged a gap in LBX organization, thanks to the skills and know-how of Samu. It also gave the opportunity for Samu to test the waters in Belgium and to practically assess what it means to work and live in Liege.
- Tell me about yourself
I am a 25 year old female who originally comes from a small village called Sgodiphola, Ulundi in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa). Growing up in rural areas but knowing my dreams are bigger than that is what have always set me apart and influenced my decisions in life. In 2016 I joined Lucchini SA as a SHEQ Officer focusing on quality management, with only 2 years quality control experience. It was a drastic move for me that required all the effort and extensive learning as I had no experience in the systems, nevertheless today I am proud I took the opportunity with both hands and ran with it. The most satisfying thing for me is looking at where LSA is today, knowing our dedication didn’t go to waste and how in turn it has shaped my career path.
- Why did you apply for this position?
The most important point is growth and I am very passionate about quality management. I am always eager to learn and advance my skills and the 3 months I have spent at LBX added value to my experience.
- Why did you want to work in LBX?
I knew moving to a completely different environment is going to be challenging for me and challenges motivate me to grow both personally and professionally. LBX also carries out activities that LSA doesn’t, like wheelsets maintenance so this meant learning new things and advancing my experience while sharing my knowledge and experience.
- What is the most important part of your work?
Ensuring that all stakeholder’s needs and expectations are met through implementation and monitoring of compliant quality management system. It is also important for me to ensure everyone/all departments comply to the requirements of the standards.
- What do you find most satisfying about this job?
There are always new challenges and I find something new to learn everyday. The nature of my job and the structure of both LSA and LBX allow me to work with the different departments in the company. This enables me to know a bit of other things other than QMS which is a very crucial in the fourth industrial revolution.
- What part of the job did you find hardest?
The language barrier was the hardest for me, being in quality you have to interact with almost everyone in the company but this was not easy because of the language. I like solving problems and making an effective contribution in teamwork but the language limited me.
- Suggestion regarding this “job mobility project”.
This has been a great experience for me and I think it would have a positive impact for the group as a whole if more opportunities like this arise, especially for benchmarking which aids in the 0ne company project.
At the end of her 3-month mission, Samu has decided to turn back to South Africa. She did the job well and, in terms of professional results, the mission is a success for LBX. Samu gained a lot of experience working abroad, in a very different environment, with different norms and habits. For LBX staff, Samu’s presence did bring diversity, professionalism and a fresh perspective on every day’s life in the company. The mission shows that distance from home and cultural difference (here between a northern European country like Belgium and South Africa) shall not be underestimated when it comes to mobility. I personally believe that such exchanges are of great value: they help create Lucchini RS culture; they foster diversity and enrich those who are involved.