„Technology makes us efficient, our people make us smart“

Michael Hakes , Director of Group Human Resources at Mondi im Gespräch mit CFOaktuell.


Michael Hakes , Director of Group Human Resources at Mondi im Gespräch mit CFOaktuell.

Michael Hakes , Director of Group Human Resources at Mondi im Gespräch mit CFOaktuell.

CFOaktuell: Mondi is known for its innovative and sustainable packaging and paper solutions. Your credo: Technology makes us efficient, our people make us smart. Having this in mind, caring for your employees is an important, central value of Mondi. How is this reflected in your talent strategy nowadays?

Michael Hakes: Actually it is not only reflected in our talent strategy, it is also part of our people strategy. One of our newly created “Centres of Excellence” addresses the topic of Caring and Employee Experience. In a digital world with increasing transparency, employees expect a productive, inspiring and enjoyable work experience. The way we are bringing this into action is by listening and responding to people. It is by creating a workplace that enables employees to reach goals and test themselves in a variety of environments. It is also by running the business based on creative collaboration, valuing varied input from our people at every level. Our ambition at Mondi is to create an open and inclusive culture that inspires our people to reach their full potential.

CFOaktuell: The digital future of work: The rise of digital does not only transform business but also organizations. What will be the pivotal changes at Mondi?

Hakes: We believe that success in digital transformation will go to businesses that do not just try digital, but scale it and move beyond incremental change. It is a core source of future competitive advantage – it will enable us to reach the next level of production efficiency and customer interaction.

Mondi’s digital future is a journey that requires a concerted effort – with a clear and structured approach – that goes beyond business as usual:

  • From pilots, to scaling across plants, regions and segments.
  • Building a digital team of data scientists, user experience designers, agile coaches, etc, led by an experienced Chief Digital Officer.
  • Digitalisation will have an unprecedented economic and social influence on all our lives – this is also true for Mondi and the packaging and paper industry. We also benefit from the trends that come with digitalisation, eg growing e-commerce is increasing the demand for our innovative packaging solutions.

CFOaktuell: Is there a need to rethink talent management so far? If yes, why? If no, why?

Hakes: Education, training and development is a critical aspect for the future sustainability of our business helping us to secure access to the skills we need.

As we strive to maintain a competitive advantage in a fast changing world, it is very important that we continue to identify leadership potential and recognize expertise and competence among our people to ensure that we continue to perform well. First, however, we need to attract people with the right potential into our business. To that end, we have increased our efforts on Diversity Inclusion, with a long-term goal to attract more women and girls into science-based topics at school and university, and then to consider a career in manufacturing – and Mondi in particular. We have made progress in broadening representation in some areas, but at the heart of our ambition is the creation of an environment where all voices are heard and new ideas rise quickly to the surface. Gender diversity is important, but so are age, ethnicity and all other forms of diversity.

At Mondi, we recognise that leading for innovation requires a different approach to leading for change, and we need the skills and agility to do both. Continuous improvement and growth are our goals. With excellence in mind, we reflect continuously on our achievements, processes and practices.

We also acknowledge that the understanding of career opportunities has changed. There is a shift from corporate ladder to corporate lattice thinking, Whereas the corporate ladder was the standard image for linear career development, the lattice represents opportunities that change adaptively through movements in many directions.

Development and training does not happen once or twice a year when you join a course. It happens every day.

CFOaktuell: Having the right people with the right skills is an important foundation for transforming successfully. Please describe your approach to develop future skills. How does your talent management keep pace with the ongoing digitization at Mondi?

Mondi Group is an international packaging and paper group employing 26,000 people with around 100 production sites across more than 30 countries. It is fully integrated across the packaging and paper value chain – from the growing of wood and the manufacturing of pulp and paper, to the conversion of packaging papers into corrugated packaging, industrial bags, extrusion coatings and release liners. It has listings on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

Hakes: At Mondi, we are focusing on digital employee enablement, building individual education plans for existing staff who want to develop in digital roles and launching ‘Digital Bootcamps’ to introduce new ways of working. We are just at the beginning of a journey that requires a concerted effort – with a clear and structured approach – that goes beyond business as usual.

Some of the skillsets that we need are not currently in Mondi, so we are hiring new people. However, digital is not just about technology. It is a mind-set and a way of working.

Therefore, we are also looking for existing colleagues who want to be part of Mondi’s digital journey. We are asking colleagues from throughout Mondi to apply for roles within the Mondi Digital team. They do not need to be 100% qualified today to be selected for such a role. If they have the right mind-set, aptitude and passion, we will invest in their training and development.

CFOaktuell: The new HR-business partner organization: how can it contribute effectively to Mondi’s future?

Hakes: Our vision is clear and ambitious. We want to contribute to a better world, be the employer of choice, and we want to be the global industry benchmark for packaging and paper. While it is on all of us to bring that vision to life, it also requires a coherent and strong Human Resource function that is close to our customers and their needs. In order to achieve our vision we implemented HR business partners on a group level dedicated to business units and group functions. This set-up better aligns HR and business activities and ensures that the respective HR business partner understands the business needs in depth while securing a unified HR approach across the group.

CFOaktuell: What is the digital impact on the entire talent management at Mondi? Digital processes and tools?

Hakes: Obviously, we are observing the fast development in terms of new digital tools and piloting and introducing them when they fit our needs. Now more than ever, introducing new technology aims to create a working environment that focuses on personalisation, motivation, recognition, and an overall compelling employee experience.

Nevertheless, in the era of digital transformation, people development and employee experiences need to be human-centred and individualised for every person in our organisation. At Mondi we follow our belief: “Technology makes us efficient, our people make us smart.”

CFOaktuell: The traditional approach to talent management focuses on the top-level, most senior jobs. But often, the highest value jobs can be found several levels down in an organization, changing the focus from the top down to inside out. What do you think about that?

Hakes: Companies that really want to be the employer of choice cannot focus anymore only on top level and most senior jobs.

A positive “employee experience” shapes the attitude and behaviour of our people. We need to make sure that all the processes, from recruiting to onboarding, and talent management are in line with the expectations of all our people who, in turn, will be responsible for shaping the customer experience and thereby the success of Mondi.

This requires quite some transformation and change management to subsequently trigger and institutionalize disruption, innovation and a new way of working across the entire organisation.

CFOaktuell: How about the future of learning at Mondi? Agility, just a buzzword?

Hakes: Agility is probably one of the most popular and maybe overused words these days. The question is what we mean when using it in a business environment. The basic definition of business agility is “the ability of a business system to rapidly respond to change by adapting its initial stable configuration”.

The speed of change that companies are facing has never been greater. Customers increasingly expect digital, seamless and connected solutions and products. If Mondi wants to live up to its vision, to contribute to a better world, be the employer of choice and be the global industry benchmark for paper packaging, we need to move fast, innovate and exceed the rapidly changing expectations of our customers. In this way, agility is not a buzzword at all.


Der Artikel ist in CFO aktuell (Heft 5/2019) erschienen. Mehr Infos unter: www.cfoaktuell.at

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