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Welcome on Board – The Encounter

Factory visit in Wijgmaal

Yes! It’s finally happening!

Those were my feelings when an invite for the live Welcome on Board came in. The Welcome on Board is an international onboarding program for the newcomers of BENEO. Over the past two years, the WOB had a virtual program during the pandemic. This meant five half days where we got to meet the board, the different departments, got to know everything about our product lines and factories,…. All without ever seeing each other live. So that’s why I was very excited that a whole group of newcomers was now invited for the live encounter in Germany and Belgium!

We felt Welcome on Board, with dinner and drinks

The evening before the actual start, we were all invited to a group dinner. That’s never a bad way to start an event! During the evening I got to know some of the colleagues already. Some of them flew in from Chile and the USA to participate. A lovely mix of different countries, an amazing atmosphere,… this promised to become a great week.

Day one of The Encounter

Our first stop: the Mannheim headquarters, Germany. We had a bit of time to connect with the people in our group. After that, the Corporate Communication team and the Marketing team took the time to explain us who they are and what they do. This was an easy start for me, as I’ve been part of the Marketing team for more than two years now. Then, we got a quick introduction into employer branding. Very short and inspirational speeches in a quick pace! During the break, the Product and Sales Manager for Functional Carbohydrates, Konstantin Grißmer, had a nice market stall for us. Here we got the chance to taste different products containing our Functional Carbohydrates: Isomalt and Palatinose™. The most surprising product … a snack bar made with insects! A nutritious protein snack with a special crunch. As a vegetarian, it was a bit too far out of my comfort zone, but my colleague-WOBers said it tasted surprisingly good!

Day one, part two: Touring around the BENEO-world

After lunch, we were off to our second stop of the day. A warm welcome awaited us in the Offstein plant, Germany. This is the location where our Isomalt and Palatinose™ are produced. The factory tour brought many insights! As I had never had the opportunity to visit one of our production sites, it was interesting to see the whole process of our ingredients.

And we were not done yet. We visited the application centre, where we could see for ourselves for examples how. Different recipes and ingredients for chewing gum and candies get tested (and tasted!) here every day.

Day one, part(y) three

A quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and we were off again! There’s no better way to get to know the Offstein region, then to do a local wine tasting. The wine, the tour and the vibe were fantastic as the group got to know each other better and better. A few tasty wines later, a warm dinner was ready for us. A few BENEO colleagues that we had met during the day joined us for this cosy meal. A wonderful end to an inspirational day.

Day two of Welcome on Board – The encounter

BreakFAST and on to the next thing. We hit the road, back to Belgium. The car ride of about 4 hours gave me the chance to get to know some colleagues much better. It’s so much fun to have this time with colleagues from other locations you normally never meet. We were welcomed in the plant of Wijgmaal (Leuven), Belgium, where our rice ingredients are produced. The rice experts were keen to share their knowledge. They had set up a few market booths with different topics and an interesting presentation from Jan van den Akker (Purchasing Manager) about rice sourcing. Also here, we got to do the whole tour of the factory. A fun and interactive way to get to know how our rice ingredients are produced.

Day two, part two: Visiting Leuven

A new day, a new hotel. After checking in in our place of the night, we were once again excited for a new evening activity. This time, beer! A local guide gave us an alternative tour of Leuven by night, with 2 tastings of beers. We had a blast. As someone that knows Leuven pretty well, it was nice seeing it from another side. And the people who had never visited Leuven… well, they might have some type of idea of it now. We ended the day with our last group dinner.

Day three, the final day

The last day of this intense experience brought us to the application centre in Tienen, Belgium. In this centre, we got speak onto the experts of dairy, chocolate, meat replacements and bakery. With quick and fun presentations, and a demonstration of their projects, we were dipped into the lab-life/life of food applications. I thought this was so insightful! The different experts explained passionately about how they work with our ingredients. And yes, that we could taste everything was a big plus.

Day three, the very last part

Across from the application centre, there’s the famous white house in Tienen. This is the headquarters of BENEO in Belgium. To get to know the place, we were divided into groups to do a very active quiz. And I mean very active. With our last energy, we started running around after clues and asking everyone for information. The competitive team spirit gave the group a last boost of energy. Sadly, this also implied that our week was coming to an end. To finalise, we ate lunch in the sunshine with the colleagues from Tienen.

The aftermath

It was a packed program where everyone had a fantastic time. For me, the combination of meeting so many new people and having the visits all over BENEO was an experience I will never forget. A big, big thank you to the HR-team, making this week possible. 



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