On November 26th, 2020, the second edition of Human Capital Europe took place in an unusual setting: due to the current health situation, the event was available online, with many local and international speakers sharing their expertise and best practices. The morning session focused on the leaders of tomorrow.

Master of Ceremony Jonathan Prince (Co-founder of Finologee) first welcomed the online participants and handed the virtual microphone to Kamel Amroune (CEO of Farvest Group): ”this event was created in order to strengthen the relations between colleagues and with companies. During these difficult times, we noticed a wave of solidarity and support. It also made us think about the impact we have and the role we want to play in the world of tomorrow, that is currently being built”.

Alex Staniforth (Motivational Keynote Speaker, Author, Ambassador & Director of Mind Over Mountains) took the digital stage and shared his presentation entitled “Reaching Unclimbed Peaks: why staying at base camp kills our potential”. During his 20-minute speech, the adventurer broke down the different steps of achieving his dream: reaching the summit of Mount Everest. He first recalled his mentor telling him he didn’t need to know all the steps: “just start and find the way. The fear of not trying is bigger than the fear of potential failure”. Alex Staniforth then took us to his numerous expeditions in Nepal and Tibet. “At first, failure wasn’t an option. And I was wrong. We train for success and never for failure. Also, people do not like uncertainties and like to replace the unknown with assumptions that are actually worse than the reality, Why not replace it with curiosity?” he added. In Nepal, he notably got caught in an avalanche and was able to escape unharmed, when some of his partners who had stayed at base camp did not make it: “people assume base camp is safer… Focus on energy, take a step forward out of the disastrous zone. This tragic event opened new opportunities: before it happened I had never envisioned to create a foundation and organize fundraising events to support the people of the region”. He highlighted: “we keep on doing what we do because it is easier than changing. For instance, it focused on reaching the summit and therefore forgot to think of how to get there”. Alex Staniforth concluded his presentation by explaining that outdoors activities reduce the risk of depression by 30%: it gives people that confidential space needed to reconnect.

He then discussed the ways through CEOs can support tomorrow's leaders, with Jonathan Prince asking him to share his tops with the audience. “It is key to have a mentor, a coach. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have confidence in your vision, people will see that and give you the tools to make it a reality. It is also crucial to create trust. Moreover, you need to be true to yourself and do not try to prove things to people, just have a purpose. For instance, during the pandemic, I used the tool I’ve gained from past expeditions: it helped to get through it and I was able to use my skills and experience to help others,” commented Alex Staniforth. The experts then discussed bullying: according to Alex, “confidence is not depending on other people”. Jonathan Prince focused on how to deal with it in the workplace: “you need to take different personalities into consideration. It can be compared to rugby: a team sports with a purpose. You define a target that is reachable. Inspire people, listen to them, get to know their personal path and focus on where you can lead them to”. Alex Staniforth agreed: “listening is sometimes harder than speaking. Be open-minded, but keep a compass, a direction”.

“Tomorrow's Leader: the Hybrid Human Being” was the name of the presentation given by Niharica Raizada (Actress, healthcare professional). She first told the audience about her journey, from Luxembourg to London, to Baltimore and Mumbai. “Hybrid is the word of the decade: buses, AI, events, education, and even medicine. Hopefully COVID does not go into hybrid mode… Moreover, homeworking is also the new hybrid trend. But what about hybrid human beings?” asked the actress who then shared the names of several hybrid humans she admires. She then focused on the different stages of our lives that shape our personality: the womb impact, the youth impact, inspirers and ideals. She added: “it shapes you into a human being”. According to her, transferable skills, differential skills and an interchangeable personality are some of the advantages of hybrid human beings. “There are also downfalls: lack of focus, time mismanagement, vanity, egoism, etc. Yet, you can fight back with ambition and insanity. Make people it is okay to be dual, hybrid. Use your passion(s) and craziness,” explained Niharica Raizada. She then shared a concrete example: to fight Parkinson’s disease, doctors often use dance rather than medicine, and therefore use alternatives to try to cure patients. She concluded her presentation by applying this hybrid mode to the corporate world: “you will be able to push boundaries and develop new ideas, and therefore to generate employment. 2020 has been all about alternative careers, mixing science, consultancy, coding, marketing and many more”.

In her keynote speech, Claudia Kessler (Initiator of the 1st female Astronaut at Astronautin) focused on empowerment and inspiration. “Be passionate about what you do, it will automatically inspire others. When I saw the first man landing on the Moon, I knew I wanted to become an astronaut. It has driven my whole life,” started the expert. At 50, she noticed that no German woman had been to space, she discussed it with several space agencies: many women applied but were not selected. “It decided to change it by myself and started looking for that woman. I wanted to recruit her and posted a job description, etc. Criteria were the same as ESA’s. After receiving many applications, we selected two candidates who are currently training to become the first German astronaut. They will finish their basic training at the end of the year and later go to the US, to fly to the International Space Station in 2021,” underlined Claudia Kessler. As explained, astronauts usually have a degree in engineering or science, but also need to be curious, courageous, act as a leader as well as being a great team member. She added: “they interact with people from all around the world, and need to be creative to solve problems and also to follow strict rules and procedures. Most of these capabilities are applicable to managers and can be implemented into the corporate world. Companies need visionary leaders who will take bold decisions in uncertain times. It will lead teams to success”. She concluded: “follow and live your dreams: a small moment in my childhood inspired my whole life. I’d like to give a message to the future generations: you can become everything”.

“Human Resources and Leadership Inspired by Teleworking” was the name of Yves Elsen’s presentation. The Managing Partner & CEO of HITEC Luxembourg first stated: “we are able to rapidly adapt to this new reality, back in March. It showed us that old methods of management needed to be adapted to new circumstances For instance, supervision – arrivals, departures and breaks – was never really valid and it became relevant in the very first day of teleworking”. The expert also insisted on the fact that trust is needed more than ever. The tech change was expressed in the form of remote access to files and databases. It also allowed remote collaboration, content sharing, communications with suppliers, as well as governance and committee meetings. “In such a period of economic crisis, leadership qualities are required and the different behaviors of the collaborators – whether they are introverted or extravert – need to be taken into consideration when it comes to teleworking,” he commented. Yves Elsen then focused on digital transformation, and explained that training plays a key role. “The pace of change is accelerating: it requires a strong capacity to adapt on the business side, but also when it comes to tech and market trends. Moreover, it needs to adapt to the new needs of people, with the newer generations having different expectations”, highlighted Yves Elsen. He then focused on how to attract and retain talents, with training being a key factor for employees to stay with the company: “people need to be listened to and need to understand the why and what of the decisions. Dialog is a must. It will also allow us to identify the leaders of tomorrow. Yet, leadership is not a shirt process”. He then highlighted that companies managed teleworking well, and that most managers took this opportunity to show good leadership skills. “In the next years, we foresee a mixed working environment offsite and onsite. Companies and all stakeholders need to adapt to this new world, improve their product and services and eventually allow the economy to keep running,” he concluded.

Finally, Emmanuelle Joseph-Dailly (Author, keynote speaker, coach, lecturer) took the virtual stage and asked the digital audience “why should you bet on impertinent profiles?”. The expert started her presentation by sharing the result of an experiment led in the South of Japan, with a monkey acting differently and deciding to remain silent instead of sharing information with the entire group. “In the dictionary, an impertinent person is defined as someone who seeks to shock. This negative definition could be enriched. It can be much more and actually change the point of view. The impertinent is the one who dares to express even if it often does not please the one who hears,” explained Emmanuelle Joseph-Dailly. According to her, the impertinent profile twists the chains without breaking it: “companies would dream to have this type of collaborator!” Yet, in today’s corporate world, organizations need guarantees. They could actually accept impertinence if they are sure it will lead to positive sparks. The experts added: “but they don’t like the risks of discomfort and there is an important aversion to risk, which kills the creativity process. By definition, creativity cannot be guaranteed”. She also highlighted the contradiction faced by most managers who need to foster creativity – done by crossing the lines – and the temptation to suppress any form of controversy because it could bring out tension. “Before ignoring the rules, the smart impertinent has to know how to master them, how to play with the frame. She/he also needs to accept being at the origin of a tension which will eventually give a forward movement. Even if it is seen as ‘unnormal’, this is the new normal!” she concluded.


Alexandre Keilmann

Publié le 27 novembre 2020