invitation

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Year 2015 collection. “The achievements of an organisation are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Vince Lombardi

The first time I came to Sweden was in 1993 and disembarked here, at Customs in Malmö, where the Scandinavian Airlines’ Catamaran would drop its passengers, an existing service between Copenhagen Kastrup airport and Malmö City before the Öresund Bridge existed. It was winter and dark. It did not really look like this because parte of the area on the left side of this picture belonged to the iconic Kockum, a large scale ship builder. This place was a huge shipyard and Kockum company owned the biggest crane in the world, late sold to Hyundai in South Korea, when the shipyard was dismantled to pave the way to a broad, new and nice urbanisation only organised countries and responsible societies can master, plan and achieve with good results.

The reason for my first visit was not business related. Well, it was related to the company I was working for but the trip was an invitation for leisure. I was part of a team working for a project which idea and concept was a direct blueprint from Hans Rausing’s notebook ideas, the then owner of Tetra Pak Company.

As one of the hand’s on printing technicians of his prototype installed in Portugal I was asked to write a six month technical development report and which I happily and proudly did. The then plant manager was hesitant in sending the report. True, I was very critic but I also pointed out directions I believed were the right steps for change. He came to me a few times asking if I was sure of what I was saying…(??). His problem was not so that of a technical matter but mostly, I still today believe, one of language. You know, he mentioned, this report will be sent directly to Hans Rausing himself because he asked for it. You know who this person is, right? He is one of the ten richest person in the world according to Forbes, you know that? I was four years old at that company but who did not know the owner of it ???!!?

Please sent it as it is, do not worry, I will sign and I will bear the responsibility and consequences. I believe Hans Rausing (we would say Mr., of course) is not a monster and will not kill me, the worst being that I will be sacked. But still, I don’t believe on that unless he does not like to hear the truth and that too is not the idea I have from him.

A few days later he came once more. Listen Joaquim, I have a few questions before I send it. He had underlined a few words and was intrigued by the meaning of them. Obviously the English is not the mother language of the Portuguese people and it is obvious that unless you master the language of Shakespeare there is always a good deal of unknown rich english vocabulary. His English vocabulary knowledge, like most of us, was based in coloquial knowledge of the daily small talk and business reading

My former wife graduated in English Literature. I wrote the report in Portuguese and she helped me to translate into English. I told her the purpose and the receiver of the report and she understood she could use a rich vocabulary without fear which she did. To me Margarida’s five pages translation was a master piece! The plant manager knew from the beginning the English report was not mine… so I handled to him the Portuguese report he could compare to understand it better. After we agreed in all meanings, he finally asked his secretary to print it out in the company’s stationary head letter. I signed and let my two colleagues co-sign so they  too, if any, would get the credits. And it was sent.

Three weeks later Hans Rausing visited the Portuguese plant and as its customary the first thing he would do was a factory tour. I saw him coming, a tall, long stride and confident walk we could not mistaken if we would not know him. He was accompanied by his own secretary, the plant manager and respective secretary plus the local project manager and the production manager. When he approached the machine he looked in all directions as looking to a baby he has not seen for some time. He looked over in admiration, it was my sense. I was doing some settings on the touch screen of the main console of the machine when he approached me; are you Joaquim? He asked. Yes I am, Mr. Rausing. Then he strongly shake my hand, by grabbing it with his two hands, which made me feel my hand was navigating into a giant glove.

At that moment the plant manager was placed behind Hans Rausing in a position like a kid spying behind a wall. He was not sure about Hans Rausing’s reaction to the report and my reading was still the same, the plant manager feared my report since the beginning. After I acknowledged myself to Hans Rausing there were a few long stacking seconds were everybody was holding their breath. We could hear the silent.

It is my pleasure to meet you, before all I thank you very much! You have written an excellent report. I must admite I seldom get reports like this related to my blueprint ideas and this is exactly the kind of reports I expect to receive. He pulled the report from the inner pocket of his coat and open it up. As you pointed out here, if we are not honest we are just wasting time. And you mentioned something here quite interesting, he said, pointing to my report; “…the bottom line of this report is, should we technically complicate things to simply the operation or should we do the opposite, technically simplify to end complicating it from operation point of view which will impact the efficiency? It seems we are doing the opposite…” I like this! He whispered.

Need not to say that everybody was finally letting their breath flown out. What a relieve some must have thought. Honestly I was relaxed and tranquil. The plant manager finally appears from behind Hans Rausing’s back, place himself beside me and my colleague  to indicate that he was also proudly part of he report; … w… w… we discussed the report a few times and I helped with the translation… he mentioned to the big boss.

Feeling that the plant manager was seeking protagonism, Hans Rausing gently and politely put his left enormous hand on the plant manager shoulder and slightly push him aside… it’s alright. He said with a faint voice. Then he turned to his secretary and said, please put on the agenda an invitation for Joaquim to come to Sweden for a together lunch in our private dinning rooms at Company’s office in Lund. To the plant manager he said; make sure you make all the preparations for his traveling needs and send the travel report to my account. He should travel in Business Class too.

And then he turned again to me and said; please be my guest, I will personally be your host.

With pleasure! Thank you for the recognition! I ended saying before we shake hands again. In sign of recognition too, this time was me who wrapped his hand between my two hands. While doing so I felt like a Lilliput fairy tale citizen…

//jb.3february2015