When I moved to the USA, I felt on the one hand as if I was at home, as it is one of my favourite countries. On the other hand, I felt almost impaired as I realized immediately that my ability to be myself in English is not as strong as I thought. I did not know how to say simple things softly so I sounded like a very formal lady, and that was totally not me.
I am all about energy and drive, creative ideas and vision for the future, being sociable and having a good time with people, and dealing with challenges and ambiguities.
HR is a very tough role/function to be involved in if you are not ready to settle and be average. If you want to be superb and really help the business to prosper, you should not settle for doing things that depend only on you/your function, but you should do your best to empower and equip managers to do their tough job of leading people and the organization.
As a VP HR at a $5bn business, my day used to start at 5:30 am when I would read emails in bed. Then, I would chat with my Moscow colleagues between 6:30 am and 7:30 am (8–9-hour time difference), followed by either an HR team meeting or a management team meeting with tea and pastries as morning is the perfect guilt-free time to eat such treats.
When I came to FMCG after the oil industry, my first impression was Wow, people are smiling here and not wearing suits. In this organization, line managers are much more experienced in leading and empowering people, and they need much more sophisticated support to solve next-level people/organization management issues. In addition, to improve HR productivity/efficiency by at least 5%, you have to give at least 200%.
Talent acquisition for international FMCG business and for one of the largest global steel and mining companies is similar in a way that it is all about strong culture and growing and nurturing talent inside the organization. However, they are different as the steel and mining company generally has to invest much more effort and resources in employer branding, especially among recent graduates, as its brand is not as well known and attractive as the FMCG brand which you can easily capitalize on.
After coming to Mars, people say they would work their entire life in the organization. Mars truly provides you with a global and cross-functional career, offering several assignments in different countries in completely different departments. This is critical for your future promotion. And, perhaps last but not least, you get the chance to buy chocolate and pet food for you and your friends and family at almost production cost ☺ and you also get a generous discount at the M&M’s World store.
Corporate university will not teach you what is truly your way, your limit, your job or your balance in life. However, it can give you knowledge, skills and inspiration to find the answers yourself.
While presenting the HR budget to the board, focus first on the business issue you are trying to address and how you will measure success. Check in advance whether this issue is the one that is recognized and vitally needs to be resolved. If not, prepare the argument or start with the one that the management team truly wants to address.
The single thing I learned at Yukos is that the top team should always be focused on the culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing. In my time, it was not like that at Yukos, once one of the largest oil companies. We significantly increased the number of in-house classroom training days for every employee in the organization and we spent a humongous amount of money on learning and development in the first two years to make continuous learning and knowledge sharing a habit. This achieved our aim fantastically and it transformed the whole culture and business performance with a lot of savings and improvements as a result of better teamwork and innovation.
MBA gave me confidence and freedom to speak the same language as my colleagues from other functions, enriched my network of great professors and academics, and enabled me to make great friends.
I think HR technology will change the way people deal with each other as well as the occasion itself during which they interact, and the number of people there doing it ;). As one person said, one of the most expensive indulgences in the future will be humans serving humans real food in real restaurants.
There is no such thing as “It will not work in this country”, “It will not work in our company” or “It will not work in our culture”. Everything is doable; you just need to get to the bottom of the issue and find the best methods to address it. After that, you can tailor it to any specifics you like. Innovation comes when you combine things that had never been combined before.
Post M&A integration can go smoothly if you truly want to create integration, not enslavement, if you aim to find the best of both worlds and do not say “my way or the highway”, if you learn first to trust each other, identify common goals and implement unified solutions where value is added at a reasonable cost, and if you allow people to have freedom to have their own way in all other spheres.
Employee engagement in heavy industry is about being able to find ways to unite hourly and salaried staff, office and plant employees, union and non-union members, and management and employees so they all trust and respect each other, share common objectives and enjoy what they do together. Also, it is about transparency and dialogue. It is not that common in heavy industries to discuss things, have informal gatherings, share information or discuss what it means and why it is being done.
I would never say never. I would never stop believing in love and being amazed by the world and the people around me.
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