NCAB: Share Your Story
Jean-Pierre Weba : Machine Whisperer
Written by Isabel Figueroa (member of the NCAB Publicity Committee)
On the western coast of Africa, in the country of Cameroon, lies the home of Central Africa’s largest port: Douala. Situated around the mouth of the Wouri River as it opens up to the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, the city is the largest in Cameroon and a pivotal commercial center in the region. It was here that Jean-Pierre Weba was born.
Weba reflects the business savvy spirit of Douala. He studied Management and Marketing in the capital of Cameroon at the University of Yaounde for three years before returning to Douala to work. He began his career by purchasing equipment abroad to sell to businesses in his home country. His search for equipment brought him overseas for the first time, to countries including Germany, Italy, and Belgium.
The business and engineering skills Weba learned from his parents also seem to be serving him well. His mother, who managed a store in Douala, encouraged him to open a store of his own, selling products he was able to buy on his trips abroad. Weba began purchasing not only construction equipment for his employer, but also clothes and shoes to sell at the store he still has today. Weba says his knack for machinery comes from his father, who has built a house for each of his children in Cameroon. These skills have proven to be crucial for his success in his current role.
Weba is a cagewash lead for the Cagewash team at the Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the NIH in Bethesda, MD. He manages some of the largest, most integral pieces of machinery in the building with the quiet confidence of a man who knows what he is doing. He is able to maintain organization and composure on a daily basis, despite the challenges of high temperature water and steam, chemicals, digital programs, and unforgiving stainless steel components. Furthermore, he has adapted to this workplace more than doubling in size in the past few years, now being expected to process around 30,000 rat and mice cages as opposed to 10,000 before 2013. He has been described by management as the “MacGyver” of machines and by his team the “machine whisperer.” Weba and his ability to problem solve allows the entire facility to function efficiently.
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