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Diversity and excellence at VAM® Threading Competence Center

Vallourec’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, We Are Vallourec, supports and celebrates collaboration among its diverse employees. When people come to a challenge from different perspectives, the results are invariably positive, including for the company and its customers.

American Engineer Process Expert Joseph Grund, and Brazilian Benchmark and Knowledge Manager Francisco Meyer, discuss how their work together on threading was enhanced by cultural and generational differences.

As well as sharing a birthday—albeit separated by a decade—Francisco and Joseph have two important things in common. They both joined Vallourec straight after graduation, and they both chose the company for a sense of shared values.   

In 2012, Joseph chose Vallourec for the diversity of projects it offered and the feeling of appreciation he received during his internship. “I always felt the company values what I do, and that is very motivating” he says.


After I graduated in 2003, I chose the company because I felt I shared its values: putting people first, respect. Over the last 20 years working here, Vallourec has offered me countless opportunities.

Francisco Meyer
Benchmark and Knowledge Manager

Joining the threads of the story

Francisco and Joseph first met when they joined the prestigious VAM® Threading Competence Center at Vallourec’s Aulnoye-Aymeries plant in France.

Complex threading and machining is a company specialty, and adds value to Vallourec pipes for customers. “Threading includes any process required to thread a pipe, from pipe deformation and stress relief, to the actual threading process and end finishing,” explains Joseph.

My specialty is maintenance, threading lathes, chucks, handling equipment – generally providing support with routine problems. I also work with suppliers to improve their machines.

My role, on the other hand,” continues Francisco, “is to provide process support. All my work is based on internal benchmarking and facilitating the best practices process community.



Learning without borders

Joseph and Francisco arrived in Auloye-Aymeries, France, in November 2017, to contribute to the competence center.

The three years I spent there were some of the best of my life,” beams Francisco. “Both professionally, as I was surrounded by amazing experts, and personally, as I was exposed to a new culture. As well as Joseph, there was an expert from China, a couple of colleagues from Indonesia, and some other Brazilians.

I agree. My four years there were incredible,” nods Joseph. “VAM® TCC is an exceptional community of senior experts. My manager there, for example, had worked for the company for 51 years. Having access to someone with that amount of expertise is invaluable.

Beyond the benefits of different cultural perspectives, Joseph and Francisco also agree that the project was enhanced by intergenerational collaboration.

We started at Aulnoye at the same time and had work topics in common, so there was a lot for us to share and feed off with each other,” explains Joseph. “As a more junior member of staff, I learnt a lot from my colleagues’ production expertise as well as the experience of managing a diverse group of people. I hope that Francisco feels he gained something from working with me too.

Oh, definitely—100%!” answers Francisco. “I learnt a lot from Joseph on the technical side, and it was so enriching.


Overcoming diverse challenges

The project generated very different challenges for Joseph and Francisco.

Learning French was most difficult thing I’ve ever done!” says Joseph. “All I could do before I moved was count to five, though luckily, at VAM® TCC all the work is done in English. By the time I left, I wasn’t completely fluent in French but I could definitely get by.

I already spoke French so that wasn’t an issue,” says Francisco.My challenge was that in Brazil, I was responsible for production lines and finding solutions to problems. I had always had a local focus in my work, but this required me to adopt a global mindset. I was very keen to learn new skills to ensure I brought value to the community.

We also had to make the move from following the standards in place, to creating new standards and technical requirements,” adds Joseph. “We worked closely with R&D to make sure the plants had the right processes.



We Are Vallourec adds value

Joseph and Francisco left France in January 2021, but have kept in touch ever since. “We see each other every quarter when I go to Brazil to work on improving the reliability of machines there,” says Joseph. “Francisco is a huge source of support when I’m on site.

I am so glad I participated in TCC and believe Vallourec’s program to encourage collaboration among diverse profiles is really valuable,” continues Francisco. “It leads to better ideas, and solutions you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

It also ensures that Vallourec’s objectives are achieved in a sustainable way. By taking into account the practical considerations of solutions and plants, Vallourec’s diverse approach really delivers benefits for customers.

Joseph Grund
Engineer Process Expert