HR has evolved into being more of a business partnership.
As the head of HR for the Africa, Middle East and Asia region covering 21 000 employees, Clotilde Boury of Orange ensures that all the HR vice presidents in branches across 23 countries deploy group policies in a consistent and effective way and get the support they need to do so.
“People are at the heart of the organisation. To be the most trusted operator and the leader in customer service we need our people to feel engaged and motivated,” she says.
She had her share of challenges especially when managing merger and acquisition projects for the organisation in France and her region-specific countries. This process includes the HR assessment of companies, union negotiations and any other cultural integration issues.
But for Boury this is part of what makes the position so exciting.
“I love managing the intercultural aspects. Especially when it comes to implementing group policies and finding the balance between group and local issues. This way, the organisation ensures that it attracts and retains talented people and develops the right skills.”
She believes that her approach of listening and having empathy help ensure that the Orange corporate culture remains alive and relevant for all employees.
However, does being part of a multinational organisation not make it easier to expand into new markets because there are established best practices to fall back on?
“One of our main assets is to capitalise on our customer and people experience. We can rely on the transfer of our expertise and know-how from all around the world to give us the agility to conquer new markets.”
And while examples of best practice is good to fall back on, she stresses the importance of a more customised approach in dealing with the countries in her region that have so many cultural differences.
“We must always give sense to the group policies and take care how we implement them.
“We must not have a top-down approach. There is room for discussion and adaptation whenever needed.
“The size and issues of the different companies in our footprint are quite different. It goes from less than 100 employees to more than 5 000.
“The group HR global policies are built in such a way that some good principles can be deployed in relation with the local requirements.”
For her, HR has evolved into being more of a business partnership.
“We have entered a new era where HR is highly strategic. As an organisation, we have to leverage on our collective strength to achieve our strategy of growth and share the results in a climate of confidence. To have a good collective strength requires care of each individual. There is a no economic performance without social performance.”
But in the connected age do companies not risk losing touch with people because of their reliance on technology?
“I would not see it as a risk. The digital world is an opportunity to tighten the links and stay close to people wherever they are. We can be more reactive to take care of them. Our real challenge is to choose and manage the good digital tools for the right purpose always bearing in mind it is all about people,” says Boury.