“Self-development is paramount”

“It’s now 27 years ago that I applied for a job at MSD, after gaining my intermediate diploma in food technology. I was able to start as a production operative. At that time I was one of the first with that diploma to get a job here. In fact, it didn’t fit exactly with what they were doing, but there was an overlap. I knew something about process technology, quality assurance, and measurement and control engineering, for instance. With all that, I got along fine.

Over time I could grow with the job: different positions, from operator to my present position as ‘operational coach’, a role in which I’m taking part in the production process, as well as guiding the team. I’ve also diversified, because although I’m now a coach in the Packaging Department, in fact I’ve been in all the production and packaging departments in Haarlem. I’ve also been able to improve myself a lot through courses and education programs.

Besides, self-development is actually really necessary. You never get the chance to ‘doze off’ in this place. There are always new developments, projects, changes, and new challenges, which we have to cope with as one unified team. Stress sounds rather negative; I enjoy the hurly-burly of this work.

That’s why I’ve been working here so long. My work is close to home, but there are many more reasons why I want to keep on working here for keeps. The open atmosphere, for example: we’re honest with each other. There’s a pleasant camaraderie: there is a hierarchy, but you don’t really notice it.

And yes, it’s hectic! I give a lot to the business, but MSD gives back a lot too. Give and take. That’s also the spirit in which I work as a line manager. If a member of the team has a problem, I do everything I can to help.

What also appeals to me so much about this work is that we’re doing something that really benefits society. Often this is very close up and real. For example, once we geared up the production of a new medicine because a young patient badly needed it. The first packs were ready in no time and the doctor got them just the next day. That feels good. The involvement of colleagues – with each other and with MSD – is super, and you notice it even more at moments like that!”

Joris Kesseler is Operational Coach IPT Blister at MSD in Haarlem