Oil’s Well That Ends Well

Oil’s Well That Ends Well

Knowing that his company is doing good for people and the planet guides Salim Benjelloun, vice president of operations at Pompeian Inc., through even the most difficult days and challenges.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Overseeing supply chain operations, production, maintenance, and capital expenditures.

EXPERIENCE: Vice president, operations; operations manager; and engineering manager, all with Pompeian; continuous improvement intern with Colgate-Palmolive.

EDUCATION: Université de Technologie de Compiégne (UTC); mechanical engineering, industrial reliability, and quality.

I was born and raised in Morocco, and then graduated from college in France. I came to the United States and joined Pompeian in September 2013 when I was 23 years old.

I came to the United States thinking I spoke decent English, but I really didn’t. I started in the maintenance department on a team of experienced mechanics, where I had no experience and a language barrier. The company trusted me, but gaining the trust of the department was more of a challenge.

To gain their trust, I focused on consistent, hard work combined with pride and love. Every day I worked longer hours, as I wasn’t yet thinking about having kids or buying a house.

I did this because I wholeheartedly agreed with Pompeian’s values. We offer a good, healthful product and are doing good for farmers, consumers, our employees, and the planet.

In this company, every employee matters. Knowing all of this means I can go through challenges and difficult days with pride. When I return home, I still smile and feel the same satisfaction as when I started. I was lucky that I was given a challenge and I embraced it.

Before Pompeian, I held an internship with Colgate in France, where I was able to see a large-scale production operation. Colgate also inspired me, when I was choosing my career path, to look at what I like to do and what type of businesses will remain meaningful and continuously do good for people. Food is one. People will always eat and drink, and value can always be added there.

It’s also easy to become passionate about the food industry, especially olive oil because it has a long history and provides many health benefits. In many countries, it’s on the table like salt and pepper.

Additionally, manufacturing skills can transfer from one company to another. I think of engineering as learning how to solve things. That’s the part I enjoy, as well as systems and process changes. These are also what drew me to supply chain.

There have been a lot of positive changes and growth across Pompeian. The company is family-oriented and culture-driven. We care about families, food and the planet, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Salim Benjelloun Answers the Big Questions

1. What are one or two things you wished you’d known before starting your current role?

Without hesitation, it’s English. Speaking the language is an important requirement when coming to an English-speaking country.

Another thing is the American mentality about work and how much we focus on it. In Europe and Morocco, there’s a different mindset and balance. It wasn’t too difficult to adjust to the differences, but I would have been a little more efficient if I knew the American culture coming in. Yet, there is also the beauty of discovering it.

2. What kind of student and teen were you during your high school years?

One thing that made me who I am today when it comes to approaching challenges is that I was lucky to have parents that would not say no to anything. It doesn’t mean they always approved of what I was doing, but they left the responsibility to me.

My dad would say, ‘You’re going to keep going, hit the wall, and then come back. You have to measure the risk.’ So as a teen, I could sleep at a friend’s house even on school nights, but it was on me to make it to school the next day. This helped me to learn not to be scared of making my own decisions.

At the same time, making decisions can be exhausting. I would wear the same pajamas and socks each day so I didn’t have to think about choosing them. I then kept my thoughts for bigger decisions.

3. What motivates you to get you out of bed every morning?

The people I work with. Before I think about my job, I think about who I will be working with during my day.
What also gets me out of bed is the anticipation of uncovering new possibilities, and the excitement of turning potential into reality and embracing the day’s untapped opportunities.

Lastly, gratitude for the gift of a new day and the well-being to experience it.