Manuel Angel Sanchez leads the HR team in Europe. His experience with Schneider Electric is quite international: he has worked and lived in 4 different countries across Europe and the Middle East within his 13 years with the company.
We asked Manuel to share his perspectives on our digital transformation, how the HR function adopts to the new normality, whether the company can even benefit from it, and what changes are there for those who want to join Schneider Electric.
Commitment to a Diverse Workforce
2020 is an exceptional year that taught us all to be even more flexible, agile, and resilient. I want to share with you two examples of our adaptation in the last months, one driven by technology that has impacted the way we recruit and onboard talents and the second one that impacts the way we work together.
For two years in a row, we are recognized for creating a truly diverse workforce and inclusive culture by being included in the Financial Times Leader in Diversity list. This is the kind of recognition that makes me so proud of the company that we have and the transformation that we are running.
For years in Europe we have shown a strong commitment with young generations and with the societies where we operate, that is why, even in a difficult 2020, we have maintained a strong focus on early career programs.
I must admit that I thought that this year it would be a bit more difficult to ensure those investments, as the level of uncertainty was pretty high. However, our business leaders know very well the excitement, passion, and curiosity that young graduates bring to us and the positive impact on the whole company. From people engagement to the business results itself, it eventually ended up being a normal year for early-career recruitment in Europe.
Recruiting During a Pandemic
The biggest programs we celebrated this year are in Germany with 56 apprentices, in Russia who has welcomed more than 50 interns, and in Spain with almost 30 trainees. We were happy to see a high interest in our programs, with more than 100 applicants per role in some countries.
Driving mass selection and assessment was not easy in the pandemic but recruitment teams shown their agility in adapting and transforming the whole selection process into a fully digital one.
When our newcomers joined, many of them have started to work remotely. With this, their managers needed to play a different role in supporting digital onboarding. Not an easy task when we’re talking about onboarding the students taking their first job!
Our partly remote schedule worked quite well in combination with a strong connection to the employee direct manager and a mentor. Our goal was to provide meaningful tasks to the early careers for them to learn about our sustainable business and also to have a chance to allocate around some time to “out of immediate job” projects or initiatives. Learning Every Day is one of our core values at Schneider Electric, so we always welcome curiosity and out of the box ideas that might come from any employee.
We care about the experience of our interns and constantly look for their feedback. This year, we have received a good evaluation of the efforts done in offering them professional training.
In the beginning, digital career fairs, remote assessments, and video interviews seemed to be rather unusual but soon we understood all the benefits. Apart from being convenient, quick, and safe, they help us to support the true inclusivity of the process and expand our digital transformation.
For example, the new Schneider platform for students – Global Virtual Student Experience – attracted almost 700 applications across the whole continent of Europe and almost 7,000 globally, including some countries where we don’t even have an office yet! Those accepted to a program were offered an online learning curriculum crafted for sales and services future professionals, as well as individual expert feedback to their project assignments. Being accessible and flexible is the new norm for the market, and we are happy to be part of this change.
Our Approach on New Ways of Working
The cornerstone of our approach to building the New Ways of Working is our trust in each employee. At the end of the day, our company culture is something that differentiates us competitively.
The pandemic has reshaped the way we work and many were forced to work from home. Although we have a long experience of remote work in most countries, we believe that the future of work is a hybrid model, underpinned by trust, empowerment, and accountability. Starting in 2021, we are taking the next step in our New Ways of Working journey, so most of our employees will have the option to flex between working from the office or home, with two work-from-home days as the global standard.
Digital transformation brings a more agile, inclusive, and empowered way of working to the workplace. It is a fundamental change that brings even more exciting opportunities than we could ever expect to live our purpose and values.
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