The Great HR Mutation: from Digital to Leadership

Written by Alexandre Keilmann on May 20th, 2016

On May 11, Human Resources experts gathered in Luxembourg to discuss the transformation of Human Resources in a fast-paced changing world. If digital has become central, especially when it comes to recruitment and day-to-day operations, leaders need more than ever to inspire and engage their teams and colleagues.


The conference moderated by Estelle Martin, Project Manager, Great Place to Work Institute Luxembourg, started with a speech by Patrick Duarte, Sales Director, Monster. Mr. Duarte reminded the audience that in a digital and fast-paced world, “flexibility can be considered as the new keyword”. But several questions remain partially unanswered – how to place Human at the end of the digitalization or how to attract the best talents – hence the presentations of the local and international experts who participated to the Great HR Mutation conference.


“In our hyper connected world, everybody has the opportunity to have a digital relation with anybody” stated Baldwin Berges, Founder, BD-Insider, at the beginning of an inspiring presentation entitled “Business to Human”. He then listed the four pillars of digital transformation, which will, according to him, be global connectivity, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and big data. With the first pillar, it will be easier to meet new customers as everyone is connected to its devices. Will virtual reality move from a personal use to the workplace? More and more companies are also trying to figure out how to use Artificial intelligence… And Big Data, will of course provide companies with a competitive advantage, and will allow companies to interact in real-time with the clients. Even with digital, the main goal is to create actual relations and a unique client experience.


Rick Tumlinson is the Co-Founder, Deep Space Industries. The space tycoon told the audience it was the first time since high school that he was talking in front of a crowd to a subject that is not space… When it comes to HR and human relations, he insisted on the fact that communication is key in an internal environment: “it must be personal, relevant, and anticipated”. The space expert also talked about the necessity to inspire and therefore engage teams: “what’s important is the art of creation. Everything starts with a dream, or a vision” added Rick Tumlinson, and gave his own case as a striking example. He then highlighted that “all together, we will be able to create an incredible future”.


For Karl Burns, Head of HR Luxembourg Global HRBP for Supply Chain, Vodafone, digital means first creating an important and strong digital network, notably through the implementation of new apps, available on devices such as smartphones, PCs and tablets.  When it comes to recruitment, the process is as follows: sourcing, assessment, interview, offer and finally, onboarding. Nowadays, all these steps go through digital: “the working world is changing and HR needs to adapt. We need to have vision to stay ahead” concluded Karl Burns.


“We have been talking about Talent Management for 20 years” started Romain Mannelli, Executive Vice President Human Resources, RTL Group. In HR this topic has resurfaced lately and yet, no clear strategy has been put in place in most companies. On the other hand, attracting talent is getting more and more complicated. Transparency is also lacking when it comes to talents in general. According to Romain Mannelli, two steps can make the difference: implementing a talent management review process, and talk about business, strategies, and vision!


Pr. Chris Welch, is a specialist in astronautics and space engineering: he teaches at the International Space University, located in Strasbourg, France. In his presentation entitled “Future Global Space Leaders and the 3Is”, he described the different themes that are key to success in meeting present and future challenges of international space cooperation: international, intercultural and interdisciplinary – the 3Is. “ISU’s unique and proven 3 Is approach is highly effective at producing the next generation of global space leaders. At ISU, there are many people who want to make new things happen, and it ends up with new successful projects” added Pr. Chris Welch, highlighting that our digital world will need new leaders.


According to Eric Barilland, the “digital revolution has just begun”. The Director of Employer Branding and Campus Management therefore sees it has an opportunity to redefine the way candidates select the company they want to work for and also the way they apply for this job. Orange had two objectives: attracting and keeping the best talent, but also make the telecommunication company the number 1 choice of candidates as an employer. The brand notably created a new Employer value proposition on its website, turned it into a digital application platform, and collected feedback form candidates. “We went from a simple website to a social and mobile experience” added Eric Barilland. Whether it is on the website, or social media pages, Orange follows its global strategy: it is present where the talents are, and has a dedicated editorial strategy for each platform. Even with all these tools, the HR specialist reminded the audience that the process of hiring and recruitment remains a Human matter. “Do not hide behind the digital tools. Hiring is the perfect combination between a woman or a man, a company, and a project” he concluded.


Benedikt Benenati can only agree: “digital transformation is trendy”. Yet, he would rather call it “transformation in a digital world”. If agility, flexibility, courage, risks taking and innovation are ingredients of success, one must not forget that people tend to stay in their comfort zone and actually fear change. “Declarations are only declarations. You have to prove it” claimed the Communications specialist. His approach, throughout his career has always been “positive destabilization” because when you involve your colleagues and friends, they will be able to understand. Sharing good  – and not “best” – practices in a specific environment such as a noisy and crowded marketplace is one of Mr. Benenati’s favorite methods. “Managers act as facilitators and give you what’s most valuable: time”. He also enjoys cobuilding and cocreation. When managers face a problem in a real situation, they can exchange with their peers: colleagues come to help and find collaborative solutions. According to Benedikt Benenati, “digital and physical are not opposed: what matters is experience”. He ended his presentation by stating “You get what you give”, meaning that managers should act as accelerators and coaches to favor transformation(s) in our digital world.


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