Today, Turkish-born Melis is working in Vårgårda, a village to the north-east of the Swedish city of Gothenburg. She’s responsible for product development and factory operations at the Vårgårda factory in Sweden, which manufactures snus, a Scandinavian smokeless tobacco product.
After studying engineering at the Middle East Technical University Melis worked at JTI’s factory in Turkey, progressing locally, then regionally, before moving to the Geneva headquarters to become Quality Assurance Director.
“I was one of the first dozen or so people recruited to develop manufacturing in Turkey. I spent three months in Japan on an exchange program. I had six years in Geneva when I traveled continuously and experienced the truly global nature of our business. Now I am doing something completely different – the only job of its kind in JTI. I love the work challenge and also the experience of living in Sweden.”
When JTI acquired Gallaher in 2007, the Vårgårda factory and its products became part of JTI. The following year Melis headed north to assume responsibility there and embark on the next stage of her career, every part of which she says has been “a fascinating
Melis is responsible for leading more than 30 people involved in the manufacturing process for snus, including a small team working on product development.
She describes snus as an interesting category of product with many future possibilities, adding: “We’re competitive and gaining market share in Sweden.”
In many ways Melis has followed an unconventional path to achieve the position she has today, starting from being just one of five women in a class of over one hundred engineering students. This was not a traditional career beginning for a Turkish woman.
"I would encourage anyone who is young and ambitious to just get on with it regardless of tradition. If you like what you’re doing, that’s all that counts"
Melis Candan Mumcular, Snus Operation Lead
“Managing the demands of work and family life can be stressful sometimes and requires careful planning but I wouldn’t change it. My husband has been very supportive on the one hand and the company equally supportive on the other. They offered me this great job just a year after our daughter was born.”
As her young daughter grows, Melis will be overseeing the expansion and growth of JTI snus and at the same time expanding her own set of skills, including learning the Swedish language. “It’s another new learning experience,” says Melis.