HC: Describe yourself in a few key words?
SS: My team would say I’ve got high energy – I work at a fast pace and bring high energy to the environment. I’m very much about ‘we’ in terms of how I operate; I’m all about team and ‘we’re all in this together’ rather than ‘I’ll do this or that’. Thirdly, I’d say I’m optimistic – I would lean more on the side of optimism in the way I think.
HC: What’s the biggest HR challenge Luxottica faces and how do you plan to overcome that?
SS: We’ve just announced a major organisational strategic change. We’re intending to rationalise the number of optical brands we have in the marketplace. What that means from the HR perspective is a major transformation process.
How do we transform the business so that strategically we’re well placed to build on the strengths of the business? There are three pillars: we want to focus the business, simplify the business and we need to connect better to the customers. We’ve built a fairly significant HR strategy to support this and over the next two years we’ll be focusing on key areas to achieve our desired outcomes. A major part of that is around leadership, as the business leaders will be overseeing the whole transformation agenda.
How we create world class customer experiences and build the capability to deliver that is also a major part of the strategy. If we are to connect better to the customer what does that mean in terms of capability development for the 3,000 people who work in our stores?
Sitting alongside all of it, one of the key roles that I play in the executive team is ensuring we get alignment across the project and the change agenda. How do we ensure the executives are aligned with what we’re announcing to employees? What does the strategy look like? What does our structure look like? It’s alignment across all the different elements.
HC: Luxottica has always put extra effort into engagement initiatives. Can you outline some of these initiatives in 2012?
SS: At grassroots level we have a process called Plan on a Page. It’s a one pager where it articulates the business strategy, key priorities and the major initiatives that support the strategy. Obviously the people element is key to that.
As part of the strategic people piece we’re equipping our managers to have conversations with their people about how they drive local level engagement. The geographic diversity of the company – around 800 stores across the country – can be a challenge. So if you’re working in a store in Karratha, what are the 2-3 things that could happen to make a difference to employee engagement? Is it flexibility around start/finish times?
Then at the organisational level it’s more about involving people in key roles in the transformation. We’ve put together a sub-group of leaders across the business who have critical roles in the transformation. It’s great for them, as most of them haven’t done a transformation before and will build our leadership pipeline for the future.