A flavour of the Middle East

Dieter Velter works for Kerry Group in Dubai

Dieter VelterIn November 2011 Dieter Velter (MGM, 2011) went to Dubai to work as a key account manager for the Kerry Group. “It’s my first job and I feel very fortunate to have come to such an exciting place. And thanks to the Vlerick alumni network, I’ve made lots of new friends.”

The Kerry Group provides food ingredients and flavours to the food and beverage industry and has its HQ in Ireland. Founded in 1972, Kerry has its roots in the dairy business, but has diversified through acquisitions.

Dieter, what’s your job at Kerry about?

“As a key account manager I’m the link between the customer and the company. I look for opportunities in the region and provide solutions, sometimes bespoke and sometimes straight off the shelf.”

How did you get the job?

“I was approached by a head-hunter who recruited young graduates; then the Kerry HR people took over. I had never heard of Kerry, but the job seemed interesting. I was especially curious to work in a completely different world like Dubai. And now, as the person responsible for ‘snacks’ in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT), I get to travel even more. My main focus at the moment is Saudi Arabia, and I’m there at least two weeks per month.”

Was your Masters at Vlerick of any help?

“Absolutely. My studies took me in several different directions: after a four-year criminology course at KU Leuven, I took an additional Masters in Management. I then wanted to expand my business and economics knowledge so I did a Masters in General Management at Vlerick. It was very intensive, with many case studies. All in all a great year, a year in which I really learned the practical side of business.”

What did you enjoy most about your Vlerick experience?

“The groups, my colleagues and the staff. Everyone was very different, but we all had one thing in common: we were driven. There was a good balance, though, and we managed to combine hard work with a good social life.”

What’s life in Dubai like?

“The week here starts on a Sunday through to Thursday; in Saudi Arabia it’s from Saturday until Wednesday. Besides work, the main issue of being an expat is loneliness. But thanks to the Vlerick alumni network here, I’ve been introduced to a group of people who’d already found their feet. Now I’ve got lots of friends. The social life in Dubai is extremely varied, and actually it’s very Western. There’s the beach, of course, not to mention desert safaris, paintball and a host of great restaurants. And I can visit some dream locations like Palm Island or Burj Khalifa.”

And what about the future?

“I think in terms of role rather than places. I enjoy the day-to-day work and while I don’t have to be in charge, I do want to be able to influence top-line strategy. My first goal is setting the priorities and getting everyone on board working towards them. At present, I’m very happy learning the business. There’s still lots of time and there are plenty of opportunities within an international group like Kerry. Because life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

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