SPOKEN- Episode 10

This episode is a special edition as we look back at some of this year’s Spoken highlights! Join us as we hear some favourite moments from the podcast in 2020, featuring lots of colleagues, including GFG leaders, from across the globe. We also hear how, just occasionally, when we make the podcast things don’t always go according to plan! 15 mins


Show Transcript:
JUSTINEHello and welcome to ‘Spoken’ – the podcast for GFG Alliance colleagues across the world. I’m Justine Greene, and this episode is a special edition – it’s our ‘Spoken 2020 Highlights’! We’ll be looking back at some favourite moments. Plus, later we’ll go behind the scenes, to hear what happens when things don’t according to plan when we’re making the podcast! Every month, of course, we’re joined by Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance. Let’s start by listening to how our first episode began in April….
JUSTINESanjeev, let’s begin by asking, why have you launched this new podcast as a means of communicating with your colleagues?
SANJEEV(sound effect) For me, it’s now three weeks where I’m isolating in my house in Wales, you know, it’s a different world for all of us. So, I think, obviously, we’re used to communicating all throughout life in particular ways, in particular by being in close proximity to each other, and you know at a reasonable frequency. That’s now denied. So, it’s time to look at new ways of staying in touch and getting, you know, making sure everybody’s connected.
JUSTINE(sound effect) Well, since then we’ve been keeping connected by catching up with Sanjeev each month. And we’ve also been getting to know colleagues, including leaders, from across the business. In September, Dak Patel, CEO of LIBERTY Steel’s manufacturing, distribution and recycling business InfraBuild and President of LIBERTY Steel Australia and USA, told us a little bit about himself…
DAKI come from a family business background, very similar to what Sanjeev has experienced. We all have grown up in our family businesses, and I started a steel business here in Australia some twenty years ago, and that has been my journey. And, obviously coming out of that industry and hoping to do something different, and this is where I am today. From one steel industry to another steel industry.
JUSTINEDak Patel there. When V Ashok, Chief Financial Officer for GFG Alliance joined us from Mumbai, we were able to clear up a small mystery about his name.
JUSTINE( sound effect) Nice to have you with us, I understand you’re known as Ashok, does the ‘V’ in your name stand for anything in particular?
ASHOKActually, it’s pretty funny. My name is Ashok, that’s all I’m christened as, ‘V’s is for father’s name, but for some reason in GFG, everybody calls me ‘V Ashok’, so… Otherwise, my name is just Ashok. V is the full name of my father. So, in India, we have a way of putting the father’s name in the front, and then our name. That’s all ‘V’ is. So, V is a lending my father’s name is our name, so it’s V. Ashok, but name– People call me Ashok, that’s it.
JUSTINE(sound effect) So now we know! Over recent months, we’ve also been hearing about what goes on in different parts of GFG. Guillaume de Goys, joined us back in the spring, then as MD of ALVANCE Aluminum Dunkerque in France, to talk about operations there…
GUILLAUMEWe are producing nearly 280,000 tons of aluminum, and aluminum operations in France, that’s not only Dunkerque. We have also ALVANCE Wheels, France, producing wheels, and ALVANCE Poitou producing parts for the automotive industry. And so, those three companies all belong to the ALVANCE Group. Back to Dunkerque, we are producing primary aluminum, for the automotive packaging and construction sectors, and our annual turnover is about six hundred million dollars per year.
JUSTINEGuillaume de Goys, now Chief Operating Officer for ALVANCE Aluminum Group. In November, Arnaud de Weert, Chief Operating Officer, Business Improvement for GFG Alliance and CEO of ALVANCE Aluminum Group, was our guest. He explained why ‘Be GFG Safe – Life Savers’ is important to him.
ARNAUDIt’s very important to me, because it’s an important part of the ‘Be GFG Safe’ strategy, and it underpins critical incident prevention. It’s really the pillar that underpins that. And, it sets behavioural expectations on each of us. What we’re rolling out covers about 80% of the potential critical incidents, and it’s all about reinforcing behaviour, what we want every employee to do, so that everyone can return home safe at the end of the working day.
JUSTINEArnaud de Weert there. Ok, coming next on our ‘2020 Spoken Highlights’, we’re off to Italy and Scotland, plus we’ll hear from lots of colleagues!
JUSTINE(sound effect) Ok, let’s look back now on a couple of occasions when we went to different locations in the business. In a moment, we’ll hear from Julia Stoddart, Chief Operating Officer, JAHAMA Highland Estates. First, in June, Giovanni Carpino, MD of LIBERTY Magona in Piombino, gave us a guided tour of their safety measures.
GIOVANNIWe have put some thermal scanners at the entry of the building, in this point, everybody has measured their temperature. The most important place to take care about it in the workplace, in that case, people, of course, have to be careful about their social distancing, they have a mask, they have gloves, and they put some plexiglass panels to avoid direct contact between the two guys that are in the same cubicle.
JULIAHello everyone, it’s Julia Stoddart here. I am the chief operating officer of JAHAMA Highland Estates, which is GFG’s landholding in the west of Scotland. I’m standing in the rainy misty foothills of Ben Nevis, which is the UK’s highest mountain, at 1345 metres, or nearly 4500 feet. The north face of Ben Nevis is part of the estates, as is much of the surrounding mountain range. And the estate covers around 14,000 acres of the Scottish Highlands, which is equivalent to roughly 57,000 football pitches.
JUSTINEComplete with sheep! Julia Stoddart and Giovanni Carpino a moment ago, talking to us from their sectors of GFG. Now, a big part of Spoken is hearing from you, with your questions from Sanjeev. And lots of colleagues have been in touch since we started the podcast…let’s have a listen…
TRACYHi Sanjeev, this is Tracy Royal. I’m the purchasing manager for LIBERTY Steel Georgetown.
AUROIHi Sanjeev, this is Auroi Biram from LIBERTY Dubai.
MARKMy name is Mark Horton, I work for Specialty Steels in Rotherham.
HILARYIt’s Hillary Newstead, programme manager for SIMEC Energy Australia.
LIBORThis is Libor Zavodnik, I am an employee of the Coke plant in LIBERTY Ostrava, in the Czech Republic.
DOUGIEIt’s Douggie Livingstone, I’m the engine and maintenance manager at Lochaber smelter in Fort William.
TANGENAHi Sanjeev, it’s Tangena Sultana, from the Group Compliance team based in London.
CHRISIt’s Chris Arcobelli, Caster Operations Manager, from LIBERTY Primary Steel in Whyalla, South Australia here.
ANCAThis is Anca Nicolau I’m a safety specialist at LIBERTY Galati, Romania.
JIMThis is Jim McCredden, from the Geelong Wire Mill in Australia.
UDAYThis is Uday Gupta, Managing Director Adhunik Metaliks Ltd in India.
JENIt’s Jen Ormsby, a WHS specialist, from our SIMEC mining business.
SEBASTIENHi, Sanjeev, this is Sebastien Cattelain from LIBERTY Ascoval in France.
BALAVADRAThis is Balavadra Pani from the new LIBERTY business in India.
BARBORAThis is Barbora Cerna Dvorakova, head of communication, from LIBERTY Ostrava, the Czech Republic.
DAVIDMy name is David Kitcher, I am the technical systems and logistics superintendent for the Sydney Rolling Mill in Australia.
RICHARDThis is Richard Botting, CEO of LIBERTY Building Solutions here in Dubai.
SOPHIEThis is Sophie De Buss, Senior HR Manager from the new ALVANCE business in Duffel, Belgium.
JUSTINEWell, thanks to everyone who asked a question. Great to hear from so many of you. Including this one from Stuart Allan that took Sanjeev back to his early days in business….
STUARTHi Sanjeev, Stuart Allen at Shand Cycles in Scotland here. It’s great to see that the bicycle wheel features in GFG’s branding. How did the connection to bicycles all begin for you and the business?
SANJEEVThat’s a lovely question. First of all, many people who know me, know that I actually started my life in business, selling bicycles literally. In Turkey, in the market called Sirkhazi, my father and his brothers used to make bicycles. In India, they were one of the first pioneers in the bicycle industry, in India. And I was given the task, in my gap year, between A levels and Cambridge, to go and conquer the Turkish market for bicycles. So that’s what I did for a year, I liked it so much I actually did it for two years and took two gap years before I went to uni. And that was my first experience, my first love, you could call it. And it has stayed with me since, and hence actually, that led eventually to the purchase of Shand in our family office, which you’re proudly a part of. As, you know, sort of a comeback to the beginning. So, that’s one fundamental reason, but also I think it’s a great symbolism, also, of all our different businesses, different countries, different people. They’re all spokes which get together. So I think it’s great symbolism for us, and also obviously it connects with our heritage.
JUSTINEAnd do you cycle, Sanjeev? Have you been out on a bike during lockdown?
SANJEEVSo, I have two bicycles, which were kindly delivered to me by Shand, top of the range, and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t actually got out one either one of them. One is now in London, and one in Wales. But I have been cycling in the gym, on whatever that’s called, where you stick the cycle on a spinning thing. So, I’ve been exercising on the bicycles, but I haven’t actually managed to get out in the open. So I won’t lie. But, it’s definitely one of my ambitions, it’s at the top of the list.
JUSTINEAwww, maybe that’s a New Year’s resolution for Sanjeev then! If you’d like to ask Sanjeev a question in 2021, we’d love to hear from you – just send us an email to spoken@gfgalliance.com, that’s spoken@gfgalliance.com
JUSTINEStay with us, next, we’ll round off this special highlights edition, with the GFG family in action, plus we’ll go behind the scenes of the podcast.
JUSTINE2020 has certainly been a year like no other. And GFG has been focused on supporting colleagues. In June, Grant Schmidt, Global Head of Culture and Performance, joined us from Sydney with news of a new initiative.
GRANTExcitingly, we’re about to launch a trial globally scaled mental health and wellbeing initiative called ‘I am Here’, and that’s going to be in partnership with its Irish based programme founders. It’s a world-class, evidence-based programme that seeks to really build a culture of awareness and community around mental health and wellbeing.
JUSTINEAnd a couple of months later we were joined by Carole-Ann Clarke, Chief Experience Officer of ‘I am Here’. She reacted to the response that this programme for colleagues to become ‘I Am Here Ambassadors’, had received.
CAROLE-ANNDo you know what, I have been so impressed with the engagement, and I think that’s a reflection of the team at GFG who’ve been driving this. Apart from participation, I think over 600 people have registered, over 500 people have already done the Tribe members course, and 51 people have done the Ambassadors course after a week. The overall engagement has been really, really positive, so we’re delighted.
JUSTINEIn August we heard about The GFG Foundation, which helps people develop skills needed in industries including engineering, metals and renewable energy. Dr Claire Neilson, leads the GFG Foundation in the UK and Jonny Samengo, leads the GFG Foundation in Australia, and they joined us on the podcast.   (sound effect) Okay, now Claire, who’s eligible to benefit from participating in the foundation’s programmes?
CLAIREWell, I guess ultimately, any young person is eligible to benefit, but having said that, the Foundation in the UK and Australia does tend to focus on the communities in which the GFG Alliance has a significant presence. So, it’s really in those communities that we’re really looking to have a big impact.
JUSTINEJonny, tell us about how the Foundation’s programmes operate in Australia?
JONNYReally, we had a fantastic opportunity, because the Foundation in the UK had been already working with industrial cadets with a programme that was already set up, which we bought into. And very importantly, industrial cadets was started by the Prince of Wales, so we really wanted to work with the Prince’s Trust here, and as it happened, they’ve got a programme called ‘Achieve’, which is all about life skills, and all about enterprise skills, and getting young people to be confident and ready for work, and to understand the world around them. And that was absolutely what we needed to do, and we really identified that from the pilot programme we ran last year.
JUSTINE(sound effect) Jonny Samengo and Dr Claire Neilson, telling us about the GFG Foundation. Now, finally, as promised, here’s a peek behind the scenes of Spoken. When we make the podcast, Sanjeev and I are in different locations. Sometimes, there’s the odd mistake. But on this occasion, you’re about to hear, it was particularly unusual….
SANJEEV(beep) So, the upstream in Ostrava will stay for a long, long time yet. So, it’s not like it’s– Just because we switch on the hybrid furnaces, that doesn’t disappear. It’s a long process, we’ll have one furnace first, the second furnace second, then we need the larger– connection and so on, and even in the long term, there may well be an upstream still.  (meow) But, to answer it more generally, what I would say is that we always look to retrain our old employees. (meow) Where possible, where needed, we’ll retrain. And– (meow) Is that a cat, sorry? There’s somebody’s cat.
JUSTINEIt is, it’s my cat. I’m sorry, he’s going insane, I’m trying to get him out. Come on, out.
WILLShould we just pause while the cat is removed? And then Sanjeev can concentrate.
SANJEEVWell, the cat could feature in the podcast.
WILLNo, we’re deleting the cat. Right, are we good Justine?
JUSTINESorry, apologies. He’s been scratching at the door.
SANJEEVHe wants a part in the podcast.
JUSTINEHe wants to join in, exactly right. Do you want that question again?
SANJEEVYes please.
WILLYeah, let’s go again.
JUSTINELet’s go do it once more, shall we.
JUSTINEAnd our producer Will was the other voice you heard there- along with my cat of course! Well, that’s it for our 2020 Highlights episode. Do hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thanks to all our guests, and to you for listening. We’re looking forward to Spoken in 2021, and we’ll be back with Sanjeev in January, so do join us then. In the meantime, from me Justine Greene, Happy New Year.

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SPOKEN- Episode 10
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