5 May 2011

MS Group take Israel to VISTA world final

“I’m very nervous. I feel like I have snakes in my stomach,” says Chen Shem Tov, the youngest member of MS Group, Israel’s representative at the region East VISTA semi final in Thessaloniki, Greece. There are eighteen teams taking part, hoping for a spot in the world final, and like all teams MS Group have no idea what is in stall.

But less than 48 hours later, at a gala dinner attended by all participants, MS Group are standing on stage, the proud winners of region East 2011. Chen, who has been anxious and on edge for the past two days, finally looks relaxed. “No more snakes,” he says with a mixture of pride, joy and sheer relief.

MS Group will now be one of thirty teams going to Gothenburg, Sweden for the VISTA world final in June, where they’ll be competing against the best technicians in Volvo Trucks’ and Volvo Buses’ global network. For region East, VISTA 2011 initially started with 250 teams from Turkey, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Bosnia, Belarus, Macedonia, Serbia, Portugal and the host nation Greece. MS Group were one of 18 teams to qualify for the semi final after obtaining the highest score in Israel in the first three rounds of theoretical questions.

The team consists of four people: Andrei Ship, Evgeni Chausovski, Rahamim Yona and Chen Shem Tov. Each has their own area of expertise and like any good VISTA team, they combine their skills effectively and work together as one solid unit. On one workstation, where they must remove the cover from an I-shift gearbox, one team member loosens each bolt with a spanner while the other three, without even being asked, immediately follow closely behind removing each bolt by hand. It is a perfect example of the teamwork and intuitive understanding between them, and within seconds the cover is off. It doesn’t take them long to diagnose the fault, and just as quickly the cover is back on and secured.

“The most important thing we’ve learnt from VISTA is the Volvo way of thinking and their philosophy of working together,” says Andrei Ship, the team leader. “Through VISTA we now also feel we belong to the company.”

At the next station, MS Group are faced with a task involving electrical components. This is Evgeni’s area of expertise, so his team members step aside and offer what support they can while he does what he does best. Within 20 minutes, well before the deadline, the task is complete and MS Group have once again scored full points. “We’re very lucky to have such a good electrician in our team,” says Rahamim. Evgeni modestly shrugs: “We have this problem all the time in Israel.”

At the end of the day, MS Group are satisfied with their efforts, knowing they’ve done their best. But they have no idea how other teams have performed. The following night, at the gala dinner and award ceremony, they wait nervously for the announcement of the winner. As soon as they hear their name, they’re up on their feet hugging one another. “It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream,” said Andrei Ship. “Tomorrow and the next day it will still feel like a dream.”

Each team member is radiating pride as they step up to take their award and they gladly accept the accolades. But few people are prouder than Amir Kalabrino, VISTA market leader for Israel, who over the years has investing so much of his time and energy in training his technicians. “I’m very proud of MS Group. They have been very professional and deserve this,” he says. “This year I had a lot of new technicians take part in VISTA, and all the time they tell me that this competition is the best way to learn something new.”

The next day Amir and his team go out on a day trip into the surrounding countryside and enjoy a well-deserved day off in Greece. As soon as they’re back in Israel, it will be back to work and back to training – they’ve got a world championship to prepare for.