Samuel Leduc, Head of Global Recruitment at Kiwi.com joins us in this TecHRseries Interview to share his thoughts on the evolving role and challenges that HR leaders face today. Catch the excerpts to read more about Samuel’s experience in the industry and his biggest learnings and takeaways.
Tell us a little about yourself Samuel, what inspired your journey into HR/People Management? Given your experience in this industry, what are some of the biggest learnings you’d like to talk about from your time in the industry?
I’ve always been interested in People as much as in Business. After graduating, I moved to Dublin, IE where an agency recruiter helped me secure a job that I really enjoyed. I became fascinated by the positive impact recruiters have on others simply by having the network, knowledge and skills to match them with relevant opportunities. 3 years later, I started working for a recruitment agency and spent the next 7 years recruiting, building and leading teams. This included spending some time onsite at IBM via an RPO and building a branch from virtual scratch for the world’s largest privately-owned recruitment agency. The agency years were something of a love and hate relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the I then moved to the internal side which I find to be very complementary to the agency experience.
Some of my takeaways: it’s often forgotten that companies are made of people and putting the people at the centre of the business will solve most other issues. Recruitment is essentially a Sales and Marketing function (I met a few people only who studied HR with the aim to work in Recruitment).
Common sense, high EQ, great communication skills, wisdom and accountability are almost superpowers. Being a “giver” opposed to a “taker” works best and being respectful and nice to others isn’t incompatible with getting results.
Given your years/expertise being in the HR segment for tech companies, we’d love to know about some of your most common workplace challenges you’ve faced over the years. How would you advise senior level HR leaders within the B2B/tech industry to address these same challenges?
I haven’t been in Tech for that long but challenges are largely influenced by the maturity level of both the company and it’s managers/ leaders. A common challenge is for HR not to be considered and treated as a strategic partner. Becoming a partner is something that is earned and if needed, HR must ask and fight for being included by the business. Only this way they can create the value expected and gain influence to impact. It comes down to how closely HR people work with the business, how visible they are, how often they join their customers’ internal meetings, how business savvy they are and ultimately how HR successes are communicated within the business and celebrated (everybody remembers when Sales landed a $50M contract but nobody remembers when Recruitment reduced the company’s TTH by 25%). The more HR teams think and speak “business”, the more the business will include them as they’ll share the same language and goals but the way to achieving could be different.
Another challenge in the Tech industry is the pace of change which makes it hard to plan ahead. The whole structure and approach of HR must be very adaptive and scalable which can be challenging given there is a sequence to how processes and HR programs are built and rolled-out. Communication and expectations management are key here to make sure our internal customers understand how much time things take before some ROI can be seen and also that they must play their part as they are a co-driver in many HR activities.
Could you share a little insight on how you see the typical role of an HR leader in the tech marketplace evolve, given the current dynamics in the industry?
In the same way that there is a constant need to decide what a company should build, buy or rent there’ll be more focus on deciding which tasks/ roles should stay with people vs robots/ machines. This will keep impacting people’s careers if that is something companies will offer still since some markets already have a very strong gig economy. It’s also linked with how location dependent companies will be given the location agnostic model is catching grounds and offers new sets of challenges in terms of mental health as an example. Thus, there are lots of unknown elements here and I believe the “moral” role of HR is here to stay. Whilst being very focused on business, there will be a need to keep the culture and diversity aspects strong as well. We are seeing up to 4 generations in the workforce nowadays with each different expectations from work.
What are some of the most common differences and common overlaps you see when it comes to people management/HR best practices in B2B versus B2C.
The most striking difference between B2B and B2C I see is that your talents (existing or target talents) are also your consumers! The way you treat them has a direct impact on your reputation as a brand and not just as an employer. In this way, I like the healthy pressure it puts on B2C companies and wish to see more of that happening in the B2B side.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Your favorite leadership/hiring quote or top team building books you’d suggest every B2B or Tech professional reads in 2020!
I really enjoyed the following books: Peak by Chip Conley, The Culture Code by Dan Coyle, Work Rules by Laszlo Bock, Good to Great by Jim Collins. Givers and Takers by Adam Grant.
Founded by Oliver Dlouhý and Jozef Képesi in 2012, Kiwi.com is an online search engine allowing users to combine transportation from non-cooperating carriers. It is powered by its proprietary algorithm (Virtual Interlining) that allows users to combine flights and ground transportation from over 750 carriers, accompanied by industry-leading Kiwi.com Guarantee. Today, the company sees more than 100 million searches every day and employs over 2,600 people worldwide. Kiwi.com ranked seventh in the 2017 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA list, becoming the highest-ever rated Czech company. Following the previous success, Kiwi.com ranked fifth in the very same program in 2018. In November 2019, the company announced a change in its vision of becoming the first Virtual Global Supercarrier and won the People’s Choice Award at Phocuswright Conference in Miami.
Samuel gained extensive recruitment management & advisory experience on European markets before leading global Talent Acquisition/ Recruitment operations for Technology & Services industry leaders. He also worked for the world’s largest private recruitment agency and onsite at IBM via RPO.