The Naked Headhunter – DEC. 2019, ISSUE 5
Thoughts on HR from a CEO’s perspective
In this fifth series of interviews Mark catches up with Boris Bourdin, a marketing professional and CEO who spent 25 years at Danone and L’OREAL in 8 different countries and more recently served as an Executive Committee member of Euralis Cooperative. Boris shares his thoughts on HR from a CEO’s perspective, including how he sees the future of HR evolving, building leadership teams for global businesses, his thoughts and approach on succession planning, where SME’s can impact HR, the war for talent, the flexibility he had to show when joining Euralis Ateliers Culinaires and finally his passions and looking ahead to the future.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE WAY YOU SEE GLOBAL HR AND TALENT EVOLVING FROM A CEO’S PERSPECTIVE?
I have a fundamental belief – Humanism is one of my core values – that “everyone’s got talent”. In every organization I joined, whatever the country or culture, I first looked at tapping into the thousands of men and women that are there before making any drastic changes in the teams. I call this “Leveraging Diversity and Empowering Teams”, this is one of my leadership trademarks. And it delivers results! In Indonesia, this is how a sleeping nutrition business moved from the 200 million euros to 350 in less than 4 years, leaving Global HR puzzled as the “Matrix and Performance Review did not detect any High Potentials in the organization”. Are we sure that a person has the right conditions for success “his boss, resources, competences, aspirations”? The second critical element is the team contribution – do you assess a Talent based on the individual or its ability to contribute to a team performance? In that sense, Global HR has a critical role to play to give anyone in a team management position the right tools to answer these questions, and then support every individual bridge the gaps.
HOW DID BUILDING GLOBAL BUSINESSES SHAPE THE TYPE OF LEADERSHIP TEAMS YOU WANTED TO CREATE?
From my experience in geographies as different as China, Latin America, Russia, New Zealand, I realized that a recipe for success, regardless of the place and business situation is to “leverage diversity and empower teams”. It means recognizing the diversity at all levels, from the leadership teams to every single employee – and not only genders, but experience, age, aspirations, profile, … and then empowering teams at the lowest level possible. This clearly comes hand on hand with the ability to be in an trustful environment, which means the ability to act, fail, learn and act again in a virtuous learning circle, and in a true “design thinking” and agile mindset. This is the “how” and I am convinced that the first element for leadership starts with a sense of purpose, especially today with the new generations. The “Why” is at the center, and this is why I redefined the role of the CEO – see my article CEO = Chief Executive Officer??
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SUCCESSION PLANNING AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURED APPROACH?
When it comes to succession planning, I always mix 3 questions – What is the right move for the individual in absolute terms, what are the resources (coaching, mentoring, training, time off the job, …) needed to make a smooth transition, and finally what is the impact on the team diversity and performance? Many of the tools used to in companies are focusing on the individual and on the time frame, but totally disregard the team impact and the resources needed (coaching, training). Then comes the notion of responsibility – Who – not which department but which person – is responsible to make that move a success. It takes two to tango.
WHERE DO YOU SEE AREAS SME’S CAN IMPACT HR WITHOUT NECESSARILY HAVING THE RESOURCES?
I have limited experience with SMEs, yet I could observe similar SMEs than Euralis during the last 18 months in France. The one that wanted to replicate the “Big Firms” systems usually delivered poor business results and at a cost way above what is reasonable. Especially at a time where those systems are challenged in larger corporations. And I discovered other SME’s that used HR as a key element to encourage Agility, Creativity, Empowerment, Pragmatism, and Resilience. They are the one that outperformed the others.
WAR FOR TALENT
HOW DO YOU SEE THE WAR FOR TALENT EVOLVING OVER THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS WHEN IT COMES TO WORKFORCE PLANNING?
The first question is – What will be talent in 5-10 years, especially when 30% of the jobs are not defined today and that the impact of AI is hard to fully embrace. In my opinion, the key consequence is that talents will be more measured on the soft skills than on the hard ones. Therefore, I am focusing on identifying internally and externally people that are creative, agile, with good interpersonal skills, the ability to work in team, and have a strong critical mindset
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE FLEXIBILITY YOU HAD TO SHOW WHEN JOINING EURASLIS ATELIERS CULINAIRES
This has been quite a move. After 20 years outside of France always in Big Multinational companies with high ambition and high resources located in large cities, I landed in a middle size rural French town, in a Cooperative, with high debt, poor results and a future to be clarified. All this in the middle of the “Yellow vest” populist movement in France. I always considered that having the chance to challenge oneself in diverse environment is the best way to grow for yourself and the people around you, and this has been a fil rouge for my career. The biggest flexibility element is that when I faced some challenges, there was no “Hot Line” with a network of thousands of Senior Executives or an Expert Board, so it forced me to focus on a few areas where I could make a difference with the resources I had at that time. A much more pragmatic approach, with a focused and agile way to deliver now with limited resources. Ultimately, it reinforced my conviction about what makes a business successful. This is about leveraging diversity and empowering teams. Finally in just 18 months, a full transformation has been completed with a new purpose – moving from “Pole Alimentaire” to “Ateliers Culinaires”, with a new mission “Faire du Bon et le Faire Bien” and a new organization and industrial footprint that is delivering promising results for the fiscal year 2020.
WHAT AREAS ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHAT TYPES OF CONNECTIONS ARE INTERESTING FOR YOU AS YOU LOOK AHEAD?
As a CEO, I am passionate about leveraging diversity and empowering teams in order to build meaningful brands that generate sustainable and human values. It starts with a defining a purpose, something that will unite all of us, and from there aligning on a future, not too far to be not real, not too close to be challenging and aspirational. And I love crafting with my teams this powerful machine putting in motion as a propeller the Why, What and How. It delivers strong results! This international 20 year journey has developed strong skills of agility, and today, I am looking at creating value in order to transmit, in sectors that will impact positively the life of millions of people, with a preference for Food, Beauty or Pharma OTC.
Mark Hamill, aka The Naked Headhunter is a Non Executive Director with Ackermann International. Mark has been active in executive search for 20 years and is passionate about the power of search. Mark specialises in global succession search particularly in scaling organisations.
“I am happy to connect you with Boris, so please just reach out to me if you wanted to chat with him about career opportunities, coaching, industry insight, market knowledge or share any of your business needs with him.”
Phone: +44 7725 828717