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Cristina Mancas Schneider Electric

Interview with Cristina Mancas, VP HR SEE at Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centres, Infrastructure, and Industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems.

 

How did you adapt to Covid pandemic and what challenges did you face during this year?

A year ago, when the pandemic started, we were lucky that we needed only one meeting to decide that we would work from home.  However, over the past 12 months, we faced challenges we never thought we would. By far the strangest feeling for an HR professional is being away from colleagues at work, but since we all agreed that the work from home solution was the best, we all started to get used to seeing each other via our online meeting platforms.

The toughest challenges we have had to face so far are probably recruiting and onboarding due to the limitations we now have in demonstrating the Schneider Electric Romania organizational culture to the new recruits. We have a vibrant organization of dedicated professionals, and meeting with them and understanding the feeling of camaraderie we all share is especially important for any new employee. Of course we tried to replicate most of that online and we made sure new employees have access to as many relevant colleagues as possible.

We are now allowing some of the people to return to the office under strict conditions, and we can see they missed each other. On a positive note, online communication has been more intense than ever. Many managers now have a chance to reach out to their entire teams even more frequently than in the past. It is easy to set up a quick online meeting, involving many employees – and this is much easier than in real life! So managers have taken the opportunity to talk to their people directly about how the pandemic has affected both their professional and private life.

 

What are the projects you implemented during this time?

Schneider launched a big global project last year in April, ‘Open Talent Market’. There were many discussions at HR level at the time about whether we should launch it, being in the middle of a pandemic and worrying people would not have time necessary to dedicate to this type of program. However, there were many employees who said they wanted to join the platform as soon as it was launched.

Open Talent Market is a platform that allows all employees to enter and connect with mentors from across the Schneider world, if they want to develop their skills. They can connect or apply to local or global projects, but also apply for full-time roles. At South East Europe level, the area for which I am responsible, Romania is leading with an adoption of 78% in less than a year, according to last reports.

‘Career Week’ is another project that was recently  launched in June. In this learning week we offered content, both locally and globally, on five main directions: technical career, functional career, cross-country career, a career that involves interaction with clients and a career in ​​leadership and management. It was a new project that we started in the pandemic but it attracted a lot of global resources. The project will be replicated at global level to offer colleagues opportunities to develop and improve skills no matter where they work.

 

On a final note, what did you take from this year?

I think now we are far more prepared than we were last year. We have already implemented an additional payment for employees working from home, and we even have candidates who ask us if working from home is allowed – it has become a sort of prerequisite – and of course, working from home is only possible with the support of technology. So yes, as far as the digital transformation of organizations is concerned, the pandemic has given us all, including us at Schneider Electric Romania, a serious push. We are now ready to accept it and embrace it far more happily than one year ago.

Ionut Balintoni
Partner, Romania

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