Global Sourcing & Supply

Meet the team: GSS Bahrain

30th May 2016

Nestled in a cosy corner on the first floor of our BMMI Bahrain Headquarters is a group of individuals frantically following up, typing away and making phone calls to ensure that deadlines are met, clients are happy and contracts are signed.

We know they work hard, but what do we really know about the GSS Bahrain team? Well, after 13 years of operation, our Prime Vendor (PV) contract came to an end early last year. However, in order to retain talent in BMMI and to better serve our customers, GSS Bahrain was born, merging technical and food sourcing and supply, to make one integrated team.

It is this team that the Corporate Communications & CSR team had to opportunity to spend the day with. From the moment you walk in, you know they are working hard to improve the capabilities of GSS Bahrain. They still continue to serve many of their previous clients, including the US Navy, Navy Exchange (NEX), KBR and Chisholm Enterprises, but the business has also expanded, serving new clients and even securing opportunities internationally. Moving from serving just one client to now building up a portfolio of customers has proved to be an exciting challenge, one the team are both grateful and enthusiastic for.

Logistics Coordinator, Linda D’ Rozario joined BMMI in 2007 and explained that GSS used to serve clients such as KBR, the US Navy in Bahrain, Nobel, PAE and TWI. “But now the volume is higher, the demand is higher and we are in more locations than ever. The bidding has increased which makes more work for us, but it keeps me busy and I am getting more experience…something I really enjoy,” she said.

Linda spends a lot of her time following up and making many phone calls regarding all orders. “We’re there from the start to the finish…every step of the way – from the order placement to the delivery, I will be in touch with both the customer and the supplier,” she said. Although Linda explains that developing this type of relationship with clients is essential, she has also realised the importance of having relationships within the company. “I have become closer to the team, we’re small and are with each other all the time. GSS Bahrain would not work without us helping each other. It’s not just our team…I have also developed relationships with our warehouse employees who help us greatly for the delivery of items. Everyone works together to get the job done and it is this culture that really makes me grateful and makes me enjoy what I do.”

Team Supervisor, Madhu Menon agrees. The team have collaborated with many departments and have sought help from employees across the business. Madhu started at BMMI in 2007 and was previously the Customer Account Supervisor. He explained that it was a smooth transition to GSS Bahrain because of the support from management. “Support and collaboration is what helped with the change,” he said. “Of course there was uncertainty in the beginning but we are now well on our way. It is more challenging and we do a lot to ensure our customers are happy with us, but it keeps us busy and we are always on the lookout for new business opportunities,” he said.

Like Linda, Madhu believes that working together across the BMMI Group can be very rewarding. Earlier this year, we got in touch with Procurement Assistant & Customer Service Executive in BMMI Djibouti, Yasmine Mohamed Ahmed, who played a crucial role to secure a contract with COLAS, a major contracting company in Djibouti, to supply them with fly ash.

Fly ash is a replacement for cement used in producing concrete. There is a high demand for it in Djibouti as it is stronger than concrete and more durable. Using her connections, Yasmine was able to have the contract signed. “I convinced COLAS that the GSS Bahrain team can source them with fly ash at a better price than their previous supplier, along with excellent service. They sent a quotation for 432 tons of fly ash (16 20ft containers) and it was done!” she said. The fly ash comes from Mundra in India and a one-year contract was signed. “I am so happy to be of help and I love being part of this team and developing the business,” she added. Procurement coordinator, Prasanth Reddy, also played a major part in sourcing the fly ash from India and now 17 containers are sent per quarter, and more is expected to come in the near future. Commercial Manager, Rishi Sevak, explained how the team are really the backbone to the success of GSS Bahrain. Rishi helps guide the team by offering his support, but he mentions that the team themselves truly are the experts in terms of procurement and supply chain. “Since we merged to make GSS Bahrain, I have started learning more about food sourcing and supply and what we can do to further develop the business,” he said. “It’s a learning curve for all of us and everything is new. It’s exciting to have challenges. The business requires you to be on your toes all the time, especially with the cutthroat competition out there. The team are the hands and the brains behind it all – and Charles and I are there to support them. On the other side the Management has been very supportive and has displayed confidence on us at every occasion. The team feel proud to be associated with BMMI and working under the guidance of COO & EVP, Robert Smith”

Sales Manager, Charles Swamy has been with BMMI since 2008. With over seven years’ experience with PV, he says that although his new responsibilities may be chaotic at times, it has its similarities to when he was the Customer Service Supervisor. “I still carry on with PV work and close accounts, as well as maintain a relationship with our previous clients, some whom are still with us,” he said. “Now it is split between contractual and commercial, businesses with commercial being somewhat new to me, so obviously there are difficulties however I am still learning which is exciting for me. As a division, we are still evolving and constantly trying to build connections,” Charles added.

Charles is always on the clock, dealing with inquiries and complaints. Together with his team he handles all food business that comes out of NEX, Chisholm Enterprises and commercial market which is responsible for 75% of the revenue out of the division. It can be intense and there is a lot of competition out there, but GSS has an edge, according to Charles. “What makes GSS Bahrain different is that we provide exceptional service and quality to our customers as well as providing them with round the clock solutions in order to make the customers life easier. We are currently supplying perishable products such as Deli meats, Dairy and Irish Beef imported weekly from US and Ireland and are constantly looking at adding new products to our inventory and bringing in brands that we think we can sell in order to grow our portfolio of products,” he said.

Senior Procurement Coordinator, Saabu Chamakkad, is in charge of food procurement and said that “the team started from zero and now we are gradually bringing up the volumes. We have regular imports from the US, Ireland and we also procure locally.” The team used their previous relationships to source Irish meat as well as deli meats into Bahrain from Ashbourne and Hillshire Farms. In September 2015, GSS Bahrain received their first shipment for Alosra supermarket of approximately 3.5 tons of Irish beef and have since opened opportunities to different supermarkets and hypermarkets. “There are a lot of opportunities and options. I only hope we continue to grow and develop. We have better team spirit now, more than ever, and we all work towards the same goal!”

Logistics & Operations Manager of GSS Group, Shaikh Rahil mentions that wherever across GSS regions appears a need for Logistical support, he follows. Rahil focuses on logistics development for GSS and visits our countries of operation to offer the best warehousing practices. From his experience in BMMI as Logistics Supervisor and Operations Manager, he has been part of a group task to centralise procurement and share his expertise. “I am happy to support all our African countries,” he said. “It is a big learning experience moving from logistics for just one customer to a number of clients. Each day is a different learning and the team works very hard together and supports one another, which is something special.”

Executive Vice President, Robert Smith shared some kind words about the team. “I am extremely proud of the team for all the hard work and dedication to establish a small but sustainable business from a low base,” he said. “Step by step we are growing revenues, diversifying our customer base and finding new ways of meeting customer requirements, by matching customer wants and needs with an effective supply chain. We have also introduced greater diversity into the team, which will allow for different perspectives and more opportunity for customer engagement.”