GREETING THE WORLD IN ENKÖPING

 

As business is booming for GN Tobacco, there is a steady stream of people
arriving and leaving the modern snus factory located just outside of the city of Enköping.
With close to 300 employees plus partners and visitors, making sure people are taken
good care of and are greeted with a smile, Madlin Marouki is running the front desk.
As Madlin is the most recognized face of the company in Enköping, we decided
to have a little chat with her.

How long have you been with GN Tobacco?

“I joined almost six years ago without really knowing much about the
company. But I clearly remember the words in the ad that made me apply;
‘At GN Tobacco we are all like one family’. I am probably a bit more social
than most people and really like the interactions with our people here, so
it is rewarding if you are an extrovert like me but the introverts are seen

by me as well,” says Madlin Marouki.

There are currently over 270 people employees based in the factory and
many of them work shifts. A question that is often asked is how it feels to
work in an environment with an extremely culturally diverse workforce.

“Being in an environment with people from all over the world, speaking
many different languages, I get to use a few of the languages I speak
daily. Most people speak some measure of Swedish or English though, and
then there is Aramaic, Arabic, Armenian and many more.
But the main challenges that I see are not so much about language but culture
and values. Understanding each other’s language is of course the first key to
success in communication. And if you ask me, the biggest key is love and
respect, in that exact order.”

So, what do you think about the culture?

For many of the people coming to the factory, this is one of their first
contacts with the Swedish society and workplace. Having come from very
different societies and cultures makes for an interesting journey.

“I think that in many other cultures, people have for example much more
respect for their elders and treat women differently than we do here.
When they come here and join our family, it takes some getting used to.”
An example of this which Madlin mentions, is how many people in Sweden
wouldn’t hesitate to bring up a complaint or a suggestion straight to the
head of the factory, but for people having grown up in a more hierarchical
cultures, they respect their leaders too much for such a direct approach.

Many people we meet at GN Tobacco talk about it as a family, why is that?

 
“I don’t have many other workplaces to compare with, but I think it comes
from the humble beginning of the company. Back when Gevorg
Nalbandyan bought a small tobacconist shop in Stockholm and started
from there, he has involved his friends and family along the way. As more
people joined, they got sort of adopted into Gevorg’s family and people
with no family ties were also treated as relatives.”
At the same time, Madlin is quick to add that while it sounds kind of
romantic to be part of the family, everybody with a large family knows that

things aren’t always peaceful in most families.

“Oh, we have our moments but there is a very genuine culture of taking
care of each other. If someone is having a tough time, people join together
and lend a helping hand.”

So, how does your day usually look?

“Since this is a factory, everything is done according to a schedule with
shifts going on and off 24 hours/day. But the reception is only open during
the daytime when we also have lorries with raw materials arriving and
shipment of products leaving. So, I work regular office hours and have

someone who replaces me when I must take meetings for example.”

Madlin keeps an eye on the only entrance and receives visitors from all
over the world and the employees. She usually chats briefly with most
people arriving and going so she has a pretty good idea of what is going
on. On top of the front desk duty, she also manages some administration.
But that is just Madlin’s working life – it turns out that she has many more

activities going on.

“Even though I don’t really believe in coincidence, I hadn’t really made
any grand plans when I went into politics for Kristdemokraterna (The
Christian Democratic Party) last election. Without any political
background, I had not expected to receive such massive support from the

voters.”

Suddenly, Madlin found herself sitting in the municipal council and as vice-
chairman of the social committee in Enköping, making decisions in
different areas. She finds it very interesting but equally challenging as
there is so much to learn and a lot of materials to study before the

meetings.

Choosing the Kristdemokraterna was not just about having faith, being the
wife of a priest in the Orthodox Christian church in Enköping, but also

because of the family politics that Kristdemokraterna has always held high.

“The family is the most important thing we have and I know for a fact that
this was the very reason I chose to work at GN Tobacco and still going.

To me the family always comes first.”

By Robert