Jan Laurens de Vries graduated from our Venturn Young Professionals (VYP) Programme in 2009. Now he works as Executive Managing Director of Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM), a Concessionaire of the Container Terminal and General Cargo Terminal in the Port of Beira, Mozambique. We asked him a few questions about what it is like to work in Mozambique and what he thought of Venturn’s Young Professionals Programme.
What is it like to live and work in Mozambique?
Mozambique is a very pleasant country to live in. The climate is nice and warm, the food is good and the people are very sympathetic. Working here does bring some challenges as bureaucracy can sometimes be hard to deal with and products and services that are widely available in Europe are often not on hand. This requires creative business strategies to ensure that international standards in service levels are being maintained.
Did you move there on your own or do you have family there?
I moved to Mozambique on my own but I am married to a Mozambican woman and I have started a family here.
Which challenges do you face in your current job and how do you solve them?
Being the CEO of a company with 700 employees, that manages a critical piece infrastructure on which the economy of a large part of the country is dependent, is of course bringing countless challenges on a daily basis. We cannot make business decisions without considering the social and economic impact on the country. For example, after a tragic cyclone and floods hit Beira in March, the Port had a crucial role to play in the relief efforts for the victims while at the same time we were battling to not disappoint our customers and have commercial operations resume as quickly as possible.
Besides such considerations, developing and operating a port with limited services and products available on the local market brings its own set of challenges as one needs to build a lot of in-house capabilities and assume responsibilities not normally taken on by a terminal operator.
There is no magic recipe to solving our various challenges, the only common factor among the solutions is having good people, therefore it is crucial to hire and maintain the right people and to invest in them.
What did you like best about the Young Professionals Programme?
I enjoyed participating in training sessions to develop my professional and personal skills together with a group of peers active in the same industry and at roughly the same stage of their careers. This greatly increased the effectiveness of training that otherwise would have remained more theoretical.
Which skills learned during the Venturn Young Professionals Programme are you able to implement in your job?
It is difficult to pinpoint a single skill. The Venturn Young Professionals Programme helps one to become a more rounded individual with hard and soft skills that are required to take on any type of managerial responsibility.