In our series “Consultants tell their stories”, today we want to introduce you to Khalid Benaissa. Khalid is an experienced Operational Excellence Consultant. Khalid joined Pauwels Consulting in 2012.
Khalid, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Khalid Benaissa. I am a Senior Operational Excellence Consultant with Pauwels Consulting. I help companies operate more efficiently by applying Lean principles, by developing the creativity and motivation of employees and by helping them solve their problems.

“I love to see tangible results of all the things I implement.”
Where does your passion for Operation Excellence come from?

After studying chemistry and after my first professional experience as a teacher for adults I started working at a company that produces parts for trucks, buses and construction equipment. I managed a small team of shift workers, but I also worked as an operator and I operated the machines as well.

It was a successful company with a strong reputation for quality and yet I could see every day how we were facing predictable problems. I often wondered “How is this possible?” and “Why don’t they foresee this?”. Now I understand why.

From teacher to operative. That is a remarkable choice!

Yes it is, but is was above all a conscious choice! I have always been fascinated by F. W. Taylor, the founder of “Scientific Management”. Taylor was an engineer who started as an operative before developing his theories on management. I took the same approach to develop my own vision based on my own experiences.

And did you like working as an operative?

Absolutely! I have done my job with pleasure for more than 2 years. That was a unique experience. I learned a lot.

Then I got the opportunity to start at another firm as a supervisor of a team with 20 people. I seized that opportunity because I wanted to experience what it is like to manage a larger team and I wanted to apply my vision on people management.

A few years later I took another step. I joined a large mutlinational in the automotive industry to manage a team of 35 to 40 people. This was an interesting job as well. I enjoyed a lot of autonomy and my views on people management fit perfectly with the vision of the company. This meant that I could work according to my own principles and immediately see the results of our efforts.

“Believe in people and give them the means to develop.”
What does “People Management” mean to you?

People and respect for human beings are key in everything I do. As a manager, I want to help my colleagues grow. Because when my colleagues grow, the team will grow. And when the team grows, the company will grow.

In my opinion, a manager should not only give instructions. Rather, he or she should focus on determining goals, showing the way, and providing the means and help for employees to help them achieve their goals. As a manager I always try to be a coach and to get the best out of my colleagues.

Is this how you started focusing on Operational Excellence?

Exactly. Another two years later I was asked to implement a new production system in our company based on Total Quality Management and Lean manufacturing in particular.

At that time I did not have much experience with lean manufacturing. I acquired that knowledge through self-study and with the support of an experienced coach. I could also rely on a worldwide network of colleagues.

“Lean does not replace a corporate culture,
but the integration of lean can enrich a corporate culture.”
How did you start this lean project?

The process consisted of two parts: 1) optimizing the efficiency of the processes and 2) employee empowerment.

Employee empowerment is closely linked with my views on people management. The aim of employee empowerment is to help employees develop skills and expertise. To achieve this you have to give your employees, among other things, a strong training and a good communication plan. In addition you have to listen to them, you have to give them the opportunity to use their creativity and you have to provide them with all necessary means to accomplish their tasks.

In Lean optimization projects we make sure that the people who will experience the changes also accept, support and implement the changes. This is very important: you can only succeed by involving people from the beginning.

That makes sense, right?

Yes it does, but at the time I started with the implementation of Lean this was not yet common sense. It was new to the company culture. I was asked to further the company and the people while safeguarding the productivity, quality and delivery times to our customers. This was a great challenge.

I have worked in this position for five years. In that time I managed dozens of projects with the goal to improve the quality of our services, our supply chain and our productivity.

How did you proceed?

In the following years I worked as a production manager. At one point I was responsible for approximately 120 people, the production capacity of my unit and the implementation of Lean in my unit.

The objectives were always the same: to improve our quality and productivity, shorten the lead times and satisfy our customers. Of course never without ignoring the human element. The development of my colleagues has always been my first priority.

With my last employer before Pauwels Consulting, we focused particularly on the development of the creativity of our employees. Creativity is an important principle in Lean. People are creative. You cannot suppress creativity but you have to encourage and support it.

“Especially the variety and challenge of temporary,
intensive projects with various clients was appealing to me.”
How and when did you join Pauwels Consulting?

After having worked for my last employer for four years I thought it was time for something new. I do not like routine and I want to continue learning and developing. That’s why I switched employers regularly in my career.

The step to consultancy was a logical one. I had already been considering it for a while. Especially the variety and challenge of temporary, intensive projects with various clients was appealing to me.

I applied for a position with Pauwels Consulting and I was quickly employed. My first assignment was an Operational Excellence job with a large pharmaceutical company.

What was your first impression of Pauwels Consulting?

There were two things that caught my attention immediately: Pauwels Consulting has a relatively young but at the same time a very professional team. The first contact, the presentations, the follow up… despite my long career in business I was really impressed with the professionalism of this young team.

And has this image of Pauwels Consulting been confirmed?

Absolutely. Pauwels Consulting has a team of dynamic and sporty people. The atmosphere is informal and professional. My only point of criticism is that Pauwels Consulting is presenting itself too little in the field of Operational Excellence, Lean and Six Sigma. But as a consultant I will do my best to change this in the future!

“Be prepared to really make a change.”
If you could give one golden tip to companies that want to improve their processes. What would that be?

Be ready to change. Don’t fight change, but embrace change with an open mind and the will to really change. This will give you the best results for your organization and your employees.

Khalid Benaissa joined Pauwels Consulting in 2012. He helps companies operate more efficiently by applying Lean principles, by developing the creativity and motivation of employees and by helping them solve their problems.

For more information about our consulting services, our Operational Excellence projects and your possibilities at Pauwels Consulting, please contact us at 09-324 70 80 or via [email protected]

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