In a series of portraits, we give you an insight in the people behind Danoffice IT. You will get an insight in both the professionalism and personal aspect of our people, so you have a better understanding of those you trade with. Here is a portrait of Mahmoud Mansour, Infrastructure Supporter at Danoffice IT internal Group IT.
Published in October 2022
Being a Syrian Palestinian, Mahmoud Mansour does not have a motherland. However, he has found himself a home in Denmark and with Danoffice IT, including edgemo. Here, he is a particularly well-liked and service-minded Infrastructure Supporter in our internal Group IT. Read the special profile written by Torben Christensen from People & Culture.
Mahmoud considers himself lucky. He was lucky to have the opportunity to flee from a war-torn Syria where the chaos of the day consisted of snipers, car bombings, one hour of electricity a day, and endless corruption. A place where buying a loaf of bread required a special ID and essentially everything was a fight to survive. “The best thing I have ever done in my life was to get out of Syria.” Mahmoud says with a grave seriousness in his eyes that tells you how little the average Dane truly knows. However, how much does one attribute to luck and how much is tenacity and individual courage. Some luck you have to create for yourself.
”Our teacher at Tietgenskolen asked who in the class had a degree from a university. A newspaper from Funen needed a refugee with a university degree for an article. One other person from the class volunteered and so did I because I did attend the university in Syria, but I left the country before I could complete my degree. Some of my classmates blamed me for signing up because they asked for somebody with a completed degree, but I had to do something to get a job,” Mahmoud says. And then the journalists interviewed him, and they fell in love with the man and his story. Because of that, Mahmoud made the paper and that right there turned out to be completely crucial for his future life in Denmark. Read the article from Fyens Stiftstidende from 2016 – a couple of months after Mahmoud arrived at Sandholmlejren at the age of 24.
Mahmoud was tracked down by the Municipality of Odense at the copy center where he was an intern. Somebody from Danoffice IT had read the article and called to schedule a job interview for Mahmoud. The interview was scheduled along with a pushy case worker because it is quite the challenge to sell yourself to a Danish company when you have a few months of Danish classes and no ability to speak English. Mahmoud’s IT background enabled him to pick up on certain well-known phrases used by his case worker, who likely had the best of intentions when he attempted to oversell. So Mahmoud went home to Odense feeling discouraged, yet in possession of the HR Manager’s business card.
After two weeks, Mahmoud called Danoffice IT himself to follow up on the interview and was asked to come to Svendborg again, however, on his own this time. “There I was, sitting before three men in suits who spoke Danish very fast”, Mahmoud says while laughing. “However, when I got down to the bus stop afterwards, they called me and asked me to come back.” Mahmoud was hired with a municipal stipend with the requirement that he learned English. And so he did. He worked during the day, went to English classes in the afternoons, and Danish classes in the evening. He started as a pre-sales employees in Cisco networks, however, after an internal Windows upgrade, which he completed in 3 days despite it being slated to take 10 days, he was moved more and more into Internal IT.
The Danish TV station DR aired a news report about Mahmoud’s employment at Danoffice IT, see the video here.
It is no wonder that Danoffice IT fell for Mahmoud. In addition to his openly sympathetic personality, he certainly has a lot to offer. Mahmoud’s luck consists of the fact that he grew up in a neighborhood in Damascus among both Syrians and Palestinians. His family has lived and worked in Syria for several generations, wherefore; he speaks as a native Syrian and was therefore afforded the opportunity for both education and work. Mahmoud studied at the university, worked at a call-center for an internet provider, and was a sales representative for another company in the evenings. He worked 15 hours every day. Later, he became a supervisor for the call-center, became Cicso CCNA Academy certified, and became the Sales Manager. With an unemployment rate of 50%, none of this is a given.
It could have been worse, and it did get worse. Mahmoud was required to serve his mandatory military duty. After his education was completed, he knew he was required to serve for 2½ years in the military. After that, he needed to be available to the military until his 40th birthday. These were not prospects Mahmoud looked forward to in any way: “You give everything to survive in a country that gives you nothing back. This is a country that ties you to the obligation of waiting to be sent off to battle to fight for a dictator even though they do not even recognize you as a citizen with the right to have a passport.” As a Syrian Palestinian, you cannot legally fly anywhere.
Mahmoud’s cousin, who was born in Libya, took matters into his own hands. He lent Mahmoud the 2000 USD it costs to get into Libya and helped Mahmoud escape from Syria. Mahmoud’s IT experience got him a job in the government PC license organization where he was setting up networks and educational equipment in his role as the technical manager for all of Libya. Later, he became an educator
One day, Mahmoud noticed a white Toyota driven by two men, who were watching him. He became nervous and jumped aboard a bus, but the men ran after him, pulled him into the car, and drove off with him. He was robbed of everything and left on a deserted beach. “I should have been dead. They normally kill their victims”. The police was ready to give up stating; ”The criminals have more weapons than we do”. Libya was not a good place to be. Mahmoud had spoken with others about being able to pay human traffickers to be transported across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. However, it would be a matter of life and death. “When what remained of Libya broke down, everything shut down, and people were being shot in the streets, so we decided it was time to flee after all.” Better to die on the Mediterranean Sea than in Libya. They were able to get a spot on the boat. It was one of those classic, overly crowded, junky boats we have seen on the news. It was a dreadful trip! However, after 6 hours, they were picked up by a freighter which turned around and took them to Italy. “We were very, very lucky” Mahmoud says with a heavy voice.
As previously stated, the journey ended in Denmark. Mahmoud lives in Odense with his wife and 3-year-old son. And he discovered that a part of his family has a presence in Denmark. One of his uncles was even on the City Council of Odense for many years. In fact, Mahmoud was greeted at the grand central station in Odense by the Mayor of Odense when he arrived, as a tribute to his uncle’s work. As such, the network quickly fell into place. When asked about the future, Mahmoud says: “At Danoffice IT, we are a family. They have always been there for me and I will always be there for them. No two days are the same. We are constantly developing. Over the last 6 years, I have achieved my dream and I would like to continue the development here, at Danoffice IT and in Denmark. In Syria, I was a refugee and could not get a passport. In Denmark, I am a refugee, but I can get a passport. I work and I gladly pay my taxes because in Denmark, I get so much in return. In Syria, you give everything and get nothing in return. I hope that one day, I can travel to Palestine on my Danish passport, but I do not want to go back to Syria. My son needs to be here and learn to think freely and learn critical decision-making. Of course, I would like him to know his cultural
We thank Mahmoud for sharing his story with us so generously and sincerely.