Building on excellence - interview with Elie Oueiss, Director of HR, Midis Group
"If objectives and goals are aligned, success is always the result."
As Midis Group undergoes a journey of HR digital transformation, Elie Oueiss newly assigned as Director of HR at Midis Group, and Raymond Bou Samra, the group HR Advisor, were both interviewed to explore their thoughts about the challenges of the past, present and the future.
In this exclusive interview, Elie Oueiss talks about the challenges of this transformation, and how he sees the way forward.
Q: You have come into post while many changes are happening to global HR practice - especially considering the pandemic - and as change is coming to the Midis Group. Can you tell us a little about the challenges?
The challenges are huge, and they come at different levels. What is imperative is that the pandemic forced and expedited mega changes where organizations had to act fast. I believe Midis Group managed to adapt and adopt these changes and act in an agile manner.
Having said that, we needed to ensure business is always up and running and people are safe. The pressure on the management team in general and HR specifically was enormous; the key to that was investing heavily on time and resources trying to secure agility and ensuring compliance while maintaining safety and best practices. That all came at days where Midis Group growth plans never stopped despite all instabilities.
All factored in, this was a true challenge because the group was undergoing a huge transformation at the HR level. We wanted to take advantage of this pandemic to gain a winning edge. While others might be cutting down on budgets, we had to double efforts, investments and resources to deliver this project.
Here, I must say that our advisory board had a big role pushing the project forward despite all instabilities and insecurities this pandemic brought. We needed this change, we needed this agility, we needed a system that could support our management and the leadership to ensure business growth.
Q: Change is happening in HR across many vectors, mainly a complete digital transformation and a new HR approach towards the IT business that is ever changing. Could you tell us a bit about how this change manifests within Midis Group?
For the past few years, Midis Group was restructuring business across five main channels that are the main lines of business for the group. Being present in more than 30 countries across EMEA, representing leading global technology vendors along with managing the diversified businesses that the group conducts, structuring businesses became a must to allow the group continue growing at the pace it is achieving.
Thus, we had a need for a complete HR solution that strengthens the employee experience and serves the business growth. Because when you grow - and as you grow - there are always growing pains. Trying to avoid this, we need to ensure that the employees experience is at its best. This is where we looked for a solution that is fully mobile, that is both global but also localized and compliant in terms of legalities and requirements by law of each country we operate in. SAP SuccessFactors, with all its modules, was our best choice and we are in the progress of integration throughout 2021 and 2022.
Q: You mentioned earlier that HR transformation is happening from within, and the advisory board is keen on the success of this project. How difficult is such a project with such a diverse and huge organization?
The more organizations grow, the more challenges grow and the more the bureaucratic pressure becomes a force blocking change; sometimes HR practice ends up being an end in itself, rather than helping things to run smoothly. Being so diverse in business lines and being present in many challenging regions, HR is now an important and strategic pillar to the business.
This is where we have created new vectors of HR. One of which is the Line of Business HR management, where we have created a Head of HR for each line of business, fully collaborating with the leader of that business line, understanding their requirements, and the specific requirements for the type of business activity.
Here is an example: in Retail, there is higher employee turnover and thus the demand for faster recruitment is needed. While in System Integration, the focus is more on recruiting candidates from various experiences of continuously evolving technologies like artificial intelligence, big data or machine learning. This is why each line of business will need – and have - its own functional HR team to support the business expansion. In parallel to that, we have created an HR Center of Excellence that will deliver our services and features.
Q: How important is the Center of Excellence considering the various changes within the industry?
The Center of Excellence is the core of HR, delivering its key functions. It is mainly split into four vectors:
One function is delivering Talent Acquisition and Onboarding to cater for the continuously growing need in talent, of course focusing on the candidates’ experience.
The other function would be the Total Rewards, which is about where we stand as a Group, attracting new talent in the IT marketplace. We do represent top global vendors that are the pillars in the IT industry. It is really crucial and important to remain competitive and this is where the rewards function is key. Our Rewards team will ensure that building a Rewards strategy allows the group to continue attracting talents and retaining them for the future.
Then you have the Organizational Development Excellence (OD), where we will develop enhanced operational excellence and infrastructure to sustain the group growth and changes.
The last frontier of excellence would be HRIS, where we have a whole team of HR tech professionals, leading on our HXM Solution to make sure it is properly integrated to cater for the diversity of Midis Group, ensuring legal compliance by country of operation.
Q: After deploying SAP SuccessFactors (SAP SF) as an ultimate employee experience solution, what is next in the digital journey?
Being in the Tech business, we have some sort of obligation, and we feel it is a necessity as well to keep on updating our HR IT solutions.
After successfully deploying our SAP SF HXM Solution, we would definitely be looking at always adopting leading HR Tech solutions that would enhance our HR Journey. A trending example would be in talent acquisition; here, many solutions are being adopted to speed up the recruitment process and increase success ratios in selecting candidates by engaging some Artificial Intelligence conducting video interviews. The group is always open to explore any Tech HR solution that will empower the business and deliver best practice in HR.
Q: As the new head of HR for the Midis Group, what is your message to your business leaders and colleagues?
As I take over my role, the Midis Group headcount is proudly growing to more than 4400 employees, all doing a fantastic job and delivering outstanding services to our customers and partners. To our business leaders, I would tell them: good talents are not always easy to find, let us make sure we team up to create the best working environment for them. Let us employ the best HR practices to ensure our teams are well retained, as we have done for many of them.
Moreover, we must continue to provide the best working environment so that we drive the Midis Group to become an Employer of Choice. That is the motto that I have chosen to accompany my journey. To our colleagues, I say: at the HR department, we are all aiming to continuously make Midis Group a better place for you to stay and grow.
Q: What should we have asked you?
You have honestly asked amazing questions, thank you. Maybe a small one about what does a change in HR leadership mean to the culture of the group? And here I would tell you that every time there’s a change in HR leadership, there must be an impact, and I hope the impact our unit will bring will be for the best of the Midis Group team.
The important part of my job is to embrace strong and agile HR practices at all levels and to properly connect the dots between the management and the team. Because with Tech, the only constant is change.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say, about the good foundations that Raymond has put in place over his long period of work building-up the HR department?
Now that Raymond occupies an advisory role, I am sure that we can take the best of his experience and wise counselling on key decisions that the group will adopt moving forward. Combining Raymond’s experience with the group’s future vision for HR will build a strong team.
Working with Raymond has been about cooperation from day one. It’s been about keeping the harmony between our key business leaders and the HR department, because if objectives and goals are aligned, success is always the result.
I am very glad that we are aligned with the Board of Directors’ vision; they are well involved in the change and supporting this transformation journey making our mission easier.