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Giorgio Benassi, Head of talent acquisition – global production and global human resources business partner at H&M Group, shares his five-year journey with the global fashion empire and his thoughts on talents in Asia and Europe.
How would you describe your journey with the H&M group so far?
It has been a fantastic learning journey, especially around leadership and culture. Recently, double- hatting as the global HR business partner, I still feel like my journey at H&M is (closer to) starting than finishing. I have been here for five years, and there is always something new on the horizon.
The most memorable moment was meeting CEO Helena Helmersson at a meeting, where I truly understood what H&M leadership was about. After my presentation, I started to compliment her for her achievements at H&M, and in only five minutes, she turned the conversation completely on me such as my qualities, and how positively my contribution was to the group. When I realised that, I stopped and asked her: “Helena, how to you do this? How do you make something that is supposedly to be about you and you make it about me, in such a positive way?”
Having worked across Europe and Hong Kong, what differences do you observe – in terms of talent, the pace of change and transformation?
The pace of the career journey of an Asian talent is very fast, sometimes even a bit overwhelming. Hong Kong is a quite mature market, but in Mainland China, if one strategically plans their career steps, it is not difficult at all to move up the ranks in just a few years. Talent in Europe can also have a fast- paced career, but one needs to be really outstanding.
This is all due to the economy, not because of the culture. As the economy in Asia is still growing, companies need more talent.
Apart from that, candidate expectations between the two regions also differ. The majority of talent in Asia expect new opportunities from employers, and money plays an important factor. Europe, on the other hand, is a candidate-driven market. Talent are concerned more abouthowtheywillbetreatedandhowinformation is delivered to them. As the Asian job market is evolving, talent nowadays have started looking for work-life balance.
Describe your leadership style
It’s based on three pillars. First: Authenticity. I am very much who I am at work. People see who I am, both good and bad. This creates a fantastic connection with colleagues.
The second pillar would be empowerment. I delegate a lot, mostly conceptual projects. I am always there to steer and support, but I allow them to come up with ideas. It empowers people to leverage the competency they have.
The last one would be creating a light-hearted experience.
We need to do our best, but also with a smile.
As a leader, I aspire to shelter teams from the overwhelming stress that can come with the corporate world and maintain a light-hearted spirit – so I can put them into the position that they can perform their best work.
What HR trends should talent acquisition specialists be aware of?
Improve their communication skills, if they are not already excellent, and be aware of what goes on in the world of tech – what tech can do for them and how they can optimise it. There is an increasingly strong need for authenticity and individualisation – meaning candidates or clients expect something that is not generic. People want to be seen as who they are, and TA needs to find ways to connect with them.
Technology will be a fantastic enabler of these human relationships. Soon, we will reach a point where we will trust algorithms to do certain parts of our selection process. The role of recruiters will then become more mature. They will leverage their human side and strengthen the relationship with candidates.