The world needs Don Quixotes
In October this year, Mees Hartog gets to celebrate his 30-year milestone with Wärtsilä. Now Mees is working in the Dubai office but used to work in Wärtsilä’s factory in Zwolle. When the factory was closed, it was naturally quite an emotional moment for the locals, even though Mees had already begun working on the service side of the business and was no longer based in the factory. After a 10-year stint in services, Mees’ career took him forward to the United Arab Emirates and the position he is having now: Manager of Quality, Environment, Health and Safety (QEHS) for Wärtsilä Services Unit Middle East and South Asia.
With the right people around him, Mees is not afraid of challenges. “I do enjoy change and striving forward,” Mees tells and continues: “I’m always looking for structural improvements which give benefits and profits in the long-run.” One such opportunity occurred when Mees, together with his Zwolle colleagues, got to improve the paint work on the Wärtsilä engines. “The paint should last long after the engine has left the factory. After the improvements, I was so proud every time I saw a Zwolle engine in the field.”
With his state-of-mind and determination, it is no wonder that Mees’ colleague once referred to him as Don Quixote. “But the world needs Don Quixotes,” Mees says, referring specifically to the status of our planet.
The environment is a matter of the heart for Mees, who has a deep love for flora and fauna. Hence, he actively shares ideas and materials with colleagues – not only to keep them up-to-date on what’s happening in the world and in Wärtsilä, but also to challenge them to think bigger and take actions of their own towards sustainability. Of course, sustainability comes along with Mees’ work position, but he is not only working on it; this man is truly passionate about enhancing the recycling and pollution laws in his home country and to take better care of our oceans.
Besides boosting recycling in his region, Mees is also coordinating the collaboration initiative with the local Wärtsilä donated Seabin, which is helping to clean up the Dubai marina. “I think sustainability, in its widest sense, is a direction which has developed fast in Wärtsilä, and this movement has been very much needed for our company to stay vital.”
Picking his colleagues’ brains
To get these ideas and keep up with the world’s developments, Mees actively searches for news about the world and about Wärtsilä. When not thinking of new ideas, Mees has plenty of other responsibilities to focus on, such as creating and following reports on quality, safety and environmental matters and arranging safety sessions for groups of colleagues. “I start thinking the evening before what I want to accomplish at work the next day. Even if I’m busy, I aim to visit the workshop often and discuss with colleagues what's coming up. Discussing news with them gives me ideas and I’m able to further adjust my own view.”
At Wärtsilä, Mees really enjoys and appreciates the high-class technology mindset the company exhibits, and the fact that he has been able to be part of developing it in his various positions. “I’d say one of my main contributions was further developing the lubrication oil together with my colleagues,” Mees recalls. During his time with Wärtsilä, Mees says he has also seen the company developing into an entirely different technology company where the engine is no longer the central point.
For the years to come, Mees hopes that the ‘Total Quality’ concept will become one of the main focus areas for the organisation. “Total Quality can be seen as the sum of all qualities where every detail counts. We should focus on sustaining the total quality as every advantage has its disadvantage, and its consequences need to be fully understood and accepted,” Mees describes.
“Most important is having control over what we are doing. Having proven control is crucial in order to be effective and strive for efficiency – we cannot trust on perceptions of control that might be false,” Mees continues. As each waterfall starts with just one drop of water, it is hard for Mees to tell what his role in Wärtsilä’s future development will be.
“All big changes start with a detail, and I strongly believe in the concept of flexibility, for both individuals and companies. Being flexible often leads you to follow the best directions, which we cannot always predict and plan in life. I can only continue trusting in my ability to find solutions for the most complicated problems.”