Greater efficiency, predictive capability, and time dedicated to the people. The Director of People and Culture at Amadeus, Valle Rodríguez, describes the multiple benefits that technology is providing to her department and how she values other methods of innovation like intergenerational cooperation.
Foto: Director of People & Culture at Amadeus, Valle Rodríguez. Credit: Courtesy of the interviewee.
By José Manuel Blanco
With more than 30 years of experience in Human Resources, Valle Rodríguez has witnessed first-hand how technology has changed many processes in her area. As Director of People and Culture at Amadeus, a multinational technological solutions corporation, she promotes the search for new digital profiles before the company needs them and counts on the collaboration between workers from different generations so that they may learn from one another.
How does technology influence the operations of Human Resources?
It is a huge help. Years ago, when this technology did not exist, the paperwork was immense and extremely time consuming, while also providing zero added value. Now, if we are looking for someone to fill a vacancy and we would like to promote internal mobility and career progression, you do not have to anything more that look over the information on file for each employee. We press a button and the technology will tell us who is closest to the position with regard to competencies and skills.
About five years ago we launched a tool called MyPortal. Through it, workers can access any type of interaction with Human Resources, whether it is to change their address or to say that they would like to sign up for a pension plan, opt for a childcare ticket, health insurance etc…. It also informed you about your team: vacations, statuses, smart working requests etc.
What other technologies have you implemented to finalize the digital transformation?
The most significant transformation that we have done has been in the area of acquiring talent, due to our target audience is finding future candidates. Here in Madrid [Spain], 58% of my work force (and we are 1,050), is millennial. If you wish to reach that audience, you have to utilize the tools that they are accustomed to: our own digital platform, other social networks, university platforms, business school job boards… We do a lot of digital searching.
We have changed the focus of the old way of recruiting. Before, you published a position on the newspaper and had to wait to receive hundreds of CVs to read and screen. Now, social networks are used, where candidates must answer “killer questions” [questions used to discard candidates]. We have a wide range of tests, challenges, etcetera. We always conduct a portion that is not face to face: 40% of applicants are from outside of Spain, so the greater part of the interaction is done through [virtual conferencing applications] WebEx, Teams, or another type of tool. The more technological tools are also done online, as they can be done electronically.
Furthermore, we are much more interested in the capabilities of individuals. We believe that their potential is in what they bring to the table: innovative capability, creativity, flexibility, adaptability. Also, with regard to cultural diversity: they must be able to treat with people from all walks of life, and that they feel comfortable in a changing environment is as important to us as the title of their degree. One of the phases in any recruitment process here at Amadeus is to do a competency interview, which allows us to identify “soft skills.”
Are you also getting ahead on future profiles?
You have to anticipate what is needed, even if at that time you do not have an open position or there is a vacancy. We know that a new line of business will be opening up because the technologies point in that direction… Hence, we begin to contact people who could be in that area and the company presents itself to them, because more and more the candidate will decide where they work. They choose, among other things, by the type of company, its values, and by its social responsibility. This is extremely important to many candidates, especially millennials.
When we wish to recruit a programmer or data engineer, they ask us important questions that go beyond compensation expectations. They ask us what machine they will be working with, in what language and on what project. In other words, we do not compete for salary: we compete for if you like it, if you are going to have fun, if you are going to learn new things, for the challenge.
Some job positions include a special training bonus because what most motivates them is to continue learning. At Amadeus we say: “You are responsible for your own development.” Later, your manager will help you, and of course, People and Culture will also be there to accompany you on the way, but you must take responsibility of your professional career and your development.
The OSCE has alerted the problem of scarcity of digital employees in the coming years many times. Is the lack of digital talent so serious? Are you feeling this lack?
Before students reach university, we go to the school to foment the study of technical majors. We do hackathons and we search for talent where it will be. In Bangalore [India], they have excellent technical schools, in the Philippines the level is also very high… We must go out and look for the talent; if it does not come to us, we must go to it.
We live in the era of data. How is it used in the Human Resources processes at Amadeus?
We have an area of analysis that, for the time being, we use for reporting. However, in the future, we will apply even more predictive analytics to accommodate factors such as in which month of the year there is the greatest number of sick leaves taken, or whether there is absenteeism related to a certain time of year or particular situation of change. Moreover, it could be used to find how much internal mobility is produced after mentoring and coaching programs.
What are the greatest challenges faced by Human Resources at the moment?
The key is to anticipate what one will need. Although we may be thinking about what we might need in six months’ time, it can be quite difficult to determine what necessities we will have in a year, because everything can change so quickly… Therefore, I think that the most important thing is to know what you may need, to think about where your business is going, and what will be specified at that time. Normally, these profiles will have to do with technology, innovation…
What advice would you give to fellow Human Resources workers in other companies on the transformation and automatization of processes and organizational changes…?
My colleagues have a hard time believing that 50% of our employees are millennials. It helps us to have so many young people. It allows us to execute reverse mentoring. Taking full advantage of the diversity that you have in your ‘home’ (Amadeus is an example of diversity) and it benefits you as a business. It is all about mixing passionate people together, who are the driving force of change. My recommendation is to anticipate: you cannot be waiting to see what will occur. If you stay in a static state of waiting, you will end up missing the train and your competitivity.
*This interview was executed with the support of the CEO of Parangon Partners, Antonio Núñez