Maarten Hut: ‘Growing with the company’

Maarten Hut recently moved from France to Mauritius, to become Head of Supply Chain & Logistics at Aspen Global. In France he was Group Supply Chain Director at Wessanen based in Lyon.

By Onno Beijers, translation by Lynn Radford

WHY THE MOVE FROM FRANCE TO MAURITIUS?

‘For a combination of reasons; I, my wife and our three children – aged 3, 8 and 10 – were all perfectly happy in France – a European role, a comfortable and sporty lifestyle. But then I was approached for an international role based on Mauritius for Aspen, a South African pharmaceutical company. It sounded very interesting, in particular because of the mix: working with the Anglo-Saxon business model and maintaining the French aspect, with a hint of Africa – that’s Mauritius. And that was important for the children too. We’re raising them to be trilingual: English, French and Dutch.’

YOU’VE ONLY JUST ARRIVED ON MAURITIUS. WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING AT ASPEN?

‘Aspen Global is the holding for the Aspen Group’s international business. The pharma industry faces many challenges: expiring patents on medicines, brand acquisitions, sourcing to achieve affordable medicines. In essence, the line we follow. For the global business, we’re our company’s ‘control tower’ for the world. We consolidate the global demand, translate that into what we need to source from our own factories and external suppliers and then take care of the physical logistics. The supply chain challenge is to introduce more structure and flow instead of working with lots of different transactions. We’ll be rolling that out next year, immediately followed by a new ERP system. At the same time, the internal organisation is currently unable to keep up with the fast pace of business growth. That’s actually a luxury problem, but we need to make a huge transition. In 2008 our CEO started the company on his own from a little office on Mauritius with sales of a few million. Today the company has 150 employees and annual revenue of over a billion.’

DO YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO ENJOY LIFE ON MAURITIUS?

‘We live in splendid natural surroundings: great weather, beaches, palm trees… A couple of times a week I go mountain biking early in the morning – among the sugar cane, a great way to wake up – and do water sports at the weekend, it’s ideal for that here. I also cycle to work every day. Here, the biggest traffic jam is on the school run in the morning. On the downside, you can suddenly find yourself without electricity or running water, or the workman simply doesn’t turn up to repair the dishwasher when you’ve already been waiting for a couple of weeks.’

HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND TO STAY?

‘It’s a big step and a considerable change. You don’t plan to do something like this for just six months. I have a three-year work permit so that’s the initial time horizon, but we’d like to stay longer if we can. Especially if my role grows with the company and I can continue to make a valuable contribution based on my own experience, as is currently the case. That’s already rewarding, although I’m ultimately aiming for a role with more overall responsibility.’