The culture and resilience of a winning team – an interview with Yussury Kallouche, BMMI Djibouti Country Manager

From colleagues working together like a family through tough times, to helping those in dire situations, BMMI Djibouti’s Country Manager Yussury Kallouche’s passion is driven by his sense of purpose. Since joining the company, Yussury has been impressed by the team’s resilience, and with BMMI’s culture and corporate values. We recently sat down with him to learn more about his experience.

What was it like for you when you joined the team?

When I became Country Manager, I would describe it as a tough time for us as we were facing some challenges. But looking back, it has honestly been a pleasure. When you’re in a situation where you don’t necessarily know what the final outcome would be, it can be a stormy period. How we faced it together as a team was by always having open and transparent communication. It was very inspiring to see how the team truly came together during a critical period and went over and beyond to turn things around, which we did.

Do you feel like these tough times helped the team work together better?

Sometimes it’s only in tough situations that you truly realise the value of your colleagues and the team you have in place. We’re blessed to have an attitude of joy and happiness every morning in the office. Sometimes, people wake up and feel dread about going in to work, but it’s not like that with us. The way we interact as a team on a daily basis, it’s truly something special. The way I see it is it’s like we are building a story together at BMMI Djibouti, and creating an experience that we can capitalise on to keep making things better for us in the future. The way the team stick together and care for each other, it truly is like family.

Was it challenging to take over during a tough period?

Initially, I joined the team as Acting Country Manager, which was actually a lower position than the one I had in my previous company. But I feel truly lucky to have been in that position before taking over as Country Manager. It really helped me a lot, because when you get your hands dirty, you experience first hand all the work that they are doing and you really get to understand how the machine works. I’m a strong believer that managing people is all about coaching them and making things better for them. It was a great thing to have the opportunity to learn much more about the people, the work, organisation and its culture before heading the team.

How has this affected how you manage the business?

I am now critically aware how crucial it is to constantly communicate and that it’s my duty to make sure people are aware of where we stand. We now have weekly management meetings in place to drive action and make sure people feel accountable. More importantly, we have our monthly town hall meetings where all of the team gets together and we talk about where we stand in terms of performance. BMMI has a really strong performance culture, and these meetings help anchor us to that. Sometimes, people tend to not link what they do on a daily basis to the overall success of our business. Sometimes people might not realise how important their role is to how the company is operating. I think this is something we need to keep communicating. Additionally, it’s a great forum to promote transparent discussion and to give all employees the space to ask questions and share concerns and idea.

Have you found BMMI to be supportive of your leadership style?

Definitely! BMMI has a lot of tools to build a phenomenal experience, starting with our Winning Hearts values and corporate culture. It warms my heart to see how the team responds to recognition here, and not just their own, but of their colleagues as well. One of the strongest things about our organisation is the human touch, especially when I compare it to all the companies I worked for before. Sometimes, big organisations fear emotions, but at BMMI that’s not the case…we see their value. I’m a person who puts a lot of emotions in the way I work and I think sometimes certain employers can kill that in you. But BMMI sees the value of how that can drive motivation and help the organisation move upwards. So when I see the approach of the company and the tools they provide to us on a daily basis, I truly believe I am working for the right organisation. The combination of nurturing the human side and helping others, it makes us even more of a family. A family that knows they need to perform and that does it exceptionally, but also uses its resources to help its employees and its customers as well. It’s truly a win – win situation.

What have you found to be the most meaningful thing for you in your position?

Besides the care we have for our employees and our unique working culture, I am so impressed with the efforts we take to contribute to the communities around us, it really keeps me driven. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of our work at BMMI, no matter which of our countries of operation you are in. It’s an incredible feeling to know you are making a difference in people’s lives. Whether if it is our EFTS training in Bahrain or redirecting food to people who need it the most, it makes me stop and think ‘yes, I’m a part of this,’ and it’s a big source of pride. For example, in Djibouti we work on medical and humanitarian assistance with organisations such as USAID. On a daily basis, we’re handling cargo that makes a tangible difference. The presence and capabilities of BMMI in Djibouti is helping save lives. Our infrastructure, facilities with temperature controlled sections, advanced logistics and a core supply chain, it allows us to handle the medication and other things needed for life assistance in neighbouring conflict zones. I feel like I’ve moved to an organisation that not only looks at profit, but that also cares about the human side of things. Our employees work above and beyond, even volunteering their services on holidays, to make sure things happen because they know the value of what we do, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

And what do you believe sets BMMI Djibouti apart?

The first thing would definitely be our organisational values. What sets us apart is that we really live them, especially team spirit. I also think our emphasis on recognition of good work and living our culture is really great. At BMMI, we share successes and when there are unintentional failures, you will always find people to support you and help you through the tough times. And that all comes back to being in line with our corporate culture. Yes, a vision and a mission are important, but the most important thing is your values and the code you live by every day. I continue to be so inspired by the way people are living our culture and not just talking about it. It really does make us special.