A sit down with Hesham Al Alawi from our Food Production Unit (FPU)
Hesham Al Alawi joined the BMMI Group in 2012 as part of our FPU team and has since developed a passion for the food industry and continued to take on new challenges. Last month, he began overseeing the FPU operations, and we sat down with him to learn more.
What was your experience like when you first joined BMMI?
When I first joined, I was not familiar with the food business. Step by step, I gained so much experience and took on as many opportunities as I could. The more you work, the more experience you will gain! It might not be easy at first, but eventually it will help you take the lead, make decisions, take on bigger challenges, and in time, it will be very rewarding for your growth and development. Now, I am very passionate about the food industry! Every time I’m at a restaurant, and even at home with my family, I always think about the quality of the food, the ingredients, the origin of the products and the recipes – it really has impacted me and my family in a good way!
Can you tell us more about the challenges the FPU faced with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
It has been really challenging for the food business. It’s a top priority for us to always maintain the quality of our products and consistency of taste. One of the issues for example, was the pandemic brought on a shortage of ingredients and we had to adapt. So, we called our suppliers and had to come up with solutions that still ensured we had quality and safety in mind.
We also saw a sharp reduction in demand from some of our customers. For example, the FPU services kiosks and trolleys in office buildings, and supplies an airline. With the restrictions on travel and many employees working from home, there was a big impact on the volume of products we supply.
When it comes to health and safety, thankfully, we already have extensive protocols in place under BMMI’s Integrated Management System (IMS), and we also go through a full, detailed audit every six months, so the FPU was primed to adapt to all precautions.
How has the team tried to adapt to these challenges?
With all these challenges and obstacles we face, we will need to find new solutions and change the way we do things. Something good inevitably comes out of this because it leads us to thinking outside the box. We cannot just stand still and do nothing. One of the things we recently did, for example, was launching our products on Talabat under Alosra Kitchen to reach more customers directly.
As more industries return to business, we are approaching various channels to work more closely with them. We also continue to work on ensuring our products are of superior quality and our offering is unique to further position ourselves as market leaders.
One of the things we have always done is to make sure we really understand and respond to market trends. For example, we are hoping to transfer our plastic juice bottles to glass ones and use paper containers instead of plastic for our salads. Besides, being important to consumers, it’s also important to us to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Of course, we also have new products in the testing phase to continue making sure we have a variety of high-quality offerings available.
What is your vision for the FPU?
For me, it’s to provide totally different and unique flavours as well as a variety of options with consistent superior quality. I want our products to be recognisable across the Kingdom, but also in the GCC region, and I think our To-Go brand is going to be a big part of BMMI’s future. I am very excited about what’s coming for the FPU, expectations are high, but we are motivated, and we have been working on so many things over the past month already. Our team is also hard working and passionate, and I am confident that with time, we will see many improvements in the FPU.
Can you tell us more about your leadership style and working with the team?
I’m very grateful I have the full support of the team. Working with them for the past nine years means they know me well and how I work, and we all have a very respectful relationship. Joining the team initially as an administrator then working in business development and now overseeing the FPU has helped me know every detail back and forth. Working my way up has given me an understanding of the business from every level and the ability to see things from various perspectives.
When it comes to leadership, I believe in leading by example in everything you do. Whether its in attendance, dealing with one another, having a smile on your face, or creating a good working atmosphere, you need to start by doing things yourself and eventually people will follow your lead. Being fair to the team is also key. Whatever difficult situations or challenges we face, as long as you handle things fairly while minimising impact on the team as much as possible, you will have their trust.
What has it been like for you as part of the BMMI Group team in general?
On a personal level, working for BMMI’s FPU, there are so many different things I’ve learned that helped me grow and gain experience. I am really grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to develop and learn. I’m also really proud to tell people that I work for BMMI because I really think we have a unique culture. It’s totally different, and I love the diversity we have in the team. I’ve had the chance to work with people from many different backgrounds and cultures, which has been a great learning experience. Besides work opportunities, I also frequently sign up and volunteer for the various social and sports activities BMMI has, which has helped me build relationships with employees across the business. I also find it quite refreshing to read about all the positive things that BMMI is doing, whether for the community or its people!