What do your talented employees actually want
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What do your talented employees actually want

Surprisingly, my clients don’t always ask themselves this question. They think about what they want as an employer and who they want to hire.

3 June 2021

But I think this is the wrong way to go about it. If you want to attract talent, you need to understand how talent thinks. It’s not about what you want, it’s about what they desire.

Why should they work for you? What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t?

So, let’s talk to someone who is genuinely talented – Vincent Erard.

We help place Vincent with the International Road Transport Union (IRU) as the Head of Finance. His story is fascinating. Vincent is French and previously worked for Ernst & Young. He also lived for many years in Montréal. But he eventually found himself working in Geneva.

We know our candidates well, but understanding what motivates them is critical to our success as a company. So, I decided to ask Vincent a few questions and he very kindly allowed me to share his answers in this post.

What made you move from Paris to Geneva?

Good question! I had been in Montréal for many years. I got use to the work culture there. It was open-minded and suited my curiosity and ambitions. It was a very transparent place to work and felt very international. So, when I moved back to Paris, I found it challenging.

Working in Paris is different. There is a certain etiquette in the style of working, which I had forgotten. It’s also a big city and not the easiest place to raise a family. I thought that a move to Geneva would bring new experiences and opportunities that I might not otherwise have.

However, moving to Geneva wasn’t easy. There was a lot to adjust to. It is true that Geneva is a Francophone city, just like Paris and Montréal, but it also has its own culture and identity. It is also quite exposed internationally, with many international organisations being based there.

Did you find it challenging?

Yes. Part of the reason was due to the job I was doing. Before I joined the IRU as the Head of Finance, I worked for a family office. It was quite an important position and I learnt a lot. The experience I gained was fantastic, but there were challenges.

I spent a lot of time travelling to sub-Saharan Africa because the family office I was working for had a large portfolio of invested interests in logistics and trading. It was an interesting job, but was also exhausting. In the end, I felt I wanted more. Although the role was well paid, I felt there was something missing.

What was it about the IRU that appeal to you?

When I was approached about the role from B+C, it wasn’t what I was expecting. It was very different from the previous jobs that I had done. I come from a background in finance and worked for a number of large accounting firms, such as Ernst & Young.

I’d never considered previously working for a company like the IRU. And, I think that was what excited me the most. It was so different to what I was doing and what I had done before. And the more I thought about it, the more interesting the role seemed.

I didn’t just want to do a CFO role. I wanted to find a company that had a purpose and a meaning. In the IRU there was an opportunity to grow and learn. As well as being the CFO, I also had the opportunity to manage a legal and IT teams, and handle the procurement process.

I think the IRU wanted someone like me because I could bring in my private sector experience. This role would allow me to bring change to the company and offer a different mindset.

I think it was this that really excited me. They valued what I was bringing to the company. That was more interesting to me than just the pay package. I wanted to feel valued, but at the right price.

How did you make a difference when you joined the IRU?

I proposed putting in place a strategic review to make sure our priorities were inline in accordance with our shared mission and vision. For instance, I set up a new department called market intelligence. I did this because I believe it is important to know how your placed in the industry that you are in and what your competitors are doing.

I’m a great fan of what entrepreneurs do and I planned to bring the entrepreneurial spirit into this organisation. I also wanted to encourage people in the company to build and create something themselves so that they could expand their own experience and knowledge.

Change is always challenging and this wasn’t easy to implement. However, I believe this was the right environment to do this in.

The company is international. For instance, my boss is Canadian. I have colleagues from Germany, Switzerland and Russia all working together. This made it interesting because these different cultures all had a fresh perspective on how to tackle the organisational challenges that we face.

What was your strategy for finding this job?

I didn’t have a particular strategy when I first started searching for a new role. To be honest, I was open to new ideas. I was searching for a new role because I wanted to do something new and meaningful.

What really attracted me to this job was the challenges that I would face and the new skills I would learn.

For me personally, the attraction was a lot less about money and more about experience. I think most people want more than just a salary. They want a purpose.

What advice would you give to candidates looking for a new job?

Living in Switzerland is about enjoying a good quality of life and spending time with family. Having a strong network in this country is crucial.

Switzerland is a small place after all and recommendations and referrals go a long way. It is also a country with an international mindset, so it is not difficult to network and meet new people even if you are foreign.

Training and reskilling are crucial. It is also a really great way to expand your network and find new job opportunities. Quite often the next opportunity that comes your way might be at night school or on an executive MBA course that you are studying.

I think though, the best advice that I could give is to be yourself. Understand who you are and what you want. And don’t be afraid to go out there and get it.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

Follow Luca on LinkedIn