On Monday 14th, WIL Europe hosted a dinner-debate, in partnership with Lenovo and WIL Member Catherine Ladousse, Executive Director of Communication EMEA at Lenovo, in London.
Focusing on Competencies for Success in a Connected World, Thaima Samman, Founding Partner of SAMMAN Law and Corporate Affairs & WIL President introduced the panel speakers: Irene Acedo-Rico, EMEA Executive Director of Sales at Lenovo, Katherine Corich, President and CEO at Sysdoc, Frederic Halley, Operating Manager at Next World Capital, Corinne Poupet-Louvès, Director of Group HR Jobline at Orange, Bertrand Salord, Senior Director Marketing EMEA and Russia at App Annie, and David Shufflebotham, HR Director UK at Osborne Clarke.
The participants to the dinner discussed the challenges addressed by both companies and individuals in a shifting digital and globalized world. Digital disruption is affecting traditional business models in an unpreceded manner for the last decades, provoking significant change at all the organizations’ levels, including extended supply channels. Facing the threat of being superseded, large companies such as Orange or Lenovo are coping by pursuing a continuous reconfiguration process with rapid resource reallocation and organizational adaptation.
As technology cycles become shorter and shorter, the pace, size and complexity of change keeps intensifying, challenging even digital disruptors such as startups that need to strengthen their newly acquired position on the market. With a very aggressive target of growth, the major challenge of the starup App Annie is to run digital innovation projects at a very fast pace to stay on top of the market. A business line shared by Next World Capital, a Silicon Valley VC fund operating with American and European star-ups, for which fast scale-up and flexibility are the key elements. According to Fredric Halley “in an environment where pressure is really high and job are very fast paced, there is little tolerance for failure”.
Alongside this business shift lies an evolution in people management: digital transformation not only influences business models, but also jobs. Traditional work is evolving through technology to become digitized, and requires new skills. Employees who have these skills are the foundation of successful organizations. Nowadays, employers must adapt their strategy, develop their talents’ abilities in order to keep them longer. Indeed, in the new business model shift, people are the most important piece. For Katherine Corich, President and CEO of Sysdoc, digital disruption is actually more compatible with the human factor, which is the “most important part of the equation” in a strategy for growth, performance and productivity. The evolution of the HR system is a matter tackled by Orange who published a White Paper Document analyzing HR functions over the last decade and prospective of evolution for 2020-2025.
Speaking about the digital shift and human resources also implies talking about the millennial generation, also known as the generation Y, who entered the workforce massively in the last decade. As digital natives, they are a valuable target for companies who struggle to retain them. Millennials embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and they are often on the lookout for opportunities that can continue to move them up the ladder, even if that means up and out of their current position.
Indeed, the major challenge faced by HR executives in big companies such as Orange, Osborne Clarke or Lenovo is first, building a conducive work environment to foster skills and competencies within talents, and then having them grow within their company. To address this challenge, the participants of the discussion generally agreed on an individual-centered management strategy: our society and workplaces are nowadays shifting toward individualization, therefore collective trainings are no longer in accordance with people’s expectations. Along with Orange, who considers its employees as customers with needs, Osborne Clarke also puts a high emphasis on individuals: to drive performance, it is crucial that individuals achieve professional and personal development. The role of the company is to help them achieve selfawareness, with a wide range of tools and coaching sessions which will allow them to identify and prioritize their goals and strengths.
To sum-up the discussion on New competencies for success in a connected world, the participants agreed to say that companies are generally looking for a set of core competencies in their talents: among those, Lenovo emphasized for instance mobility, in particular the ability to move internationally in an even more globalized world. For network-based companies such as Next World Capital, networking is a key element to connect with a maximum of people and to extend opportunities. Nevertheless, the panelists acknowledged that there is not one single path to success: It is very specific to each individual. For David, “matching the individual expectations with the company’s needs” is vital for both employees and corporations to grow together.
In this shifting world, women must also find their place. As an audience member emphasized, it is not only a matter of getting the job done, it is also a matter of building your own sphere of influence, to show your work to your supervisors, and to position yourself as a leader within the company.