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Vincent Lecerf: “Our employees now better see what we bring to society”

5 questions to Vincent Lecerf, our Senior Vice President of the HR Function also overseeing Communications and CSR and a member of Imerys Executive Committee.

A picture Vincent Lecerf

Vincent Lecerf is the Senior Vice President of the HR Function also overseeing Communications and CSR and a member of Imerys Executive Committee (ExCo). 

Vincent joined Imerys as Group Chief Human Resources Officer in January 2017. Prior to joining, he was Director of Human Resources and a Managing Board member of Tarkett for nine years. Vincent’s experience in human resources management over the past years has included positions with Valeo, Poclain Hydraulics, Rhodia and Norbert Dentressangle.

How would you describe your job as Imerys Global HR leader and as an ExCo member?

My role as Imerys’ HR leader is to offer the best management of Human Resources for the company—in the short and long term—so it can face up to its challenges. First, from a company perspective, I must ensure that we attract and retain the right people in terms of organisational needs, skills, and engagement. On the other hand, from an employee perspective, my role is to guarantee that our people feel safe, feel empowered in their workplace, enjoy their work and feel that they have enough space to grow and blossom. 

More practically, I am in charge of assessing and answering Imerys’ needs for talent, while ensuring that the Group remains appealing for employees and candidates, by developing and promoting its long-term vision, embodied by the company’s purpose and Employer brand. For that, I lead an organized function on a global level, across all countries addressing all HR dimensions, such as Talent, Compensation & Benefits and Communications and CSR. I must ensure the quality and the consistency of the service we provide to our internal customers globally.

As an ExCo member, I am part of a team—my role is to support my business partners, bringing my perspective into higher, more global and strategic discussions.

How has the HR function responded to the Covid-19 crisis?

Our number one priority was to ensure the safety and health of our employees. Therefore, we had to adapt the set-up of our organisation across all businesses and geographies. The HR teams have shown incredible reactiveness in flexing the organisation. 

Secondly, we focused on meeting the needs that emerged during the crisis – this required intense and sustained social dialogue. We have been investing a lot of time in discussions with our internal partners notably the European Works Council, in order to find the best and most suitable solutions for our people. 

We have put a lot of effort into communications to inform colleagues and reassure them of the path we are taking. Communication was critical in that context.

A lot of employee engagement during the crisis was generated by the realisation that our activities and products are critical to many industries, and that they are essential to enable all kinds of products that make people’s lives better every day. Therefore, we had an additional responsibility – helping our communities while supporting the global effort to address the crisis. I was truly humbled by the many donations made to our local communities by our teams based on our sites worldwide. 

Learn from this crisis to keep on strengthening our global functioning

Vincent Lecerf
Senior Vice President of the HR Function

Communications, that I oversee, proved to be more critical than ever. Stronger communications tools and teams helped compensate for the lack of direct contact. Our Intranet became a true communication hub, demonstrating that our tools are solid to embark, reassure, align our team members and to some extent, compensate for the formal (and less formal) information meetings our managers could not perform anymore.

And last but not least, from a CSR perspective, which is also part of my scope of responsibilities, the crisis has demonstrated how critical our activities are: we provide minerals that are present in medical devices, medical equipment, water purification or agricultural production. Employees now better see what we bring to society and how we are constantly seeking to do the things right and to do the right things. We will continue to support our communities in diverse and profound ways. We are doing valuable things—addressing critical needs—and we want to do it the right way, with respect and integrity.

In the long term, we must learn from this crisis to keep on strengthening our global functioning. We have started thinking about new ways of working to not only be reactive—and I think we have been extremely reactive—but also adjusting further and preparing for the future.

Has the crisis changed your vision of management?

Yes. I found that remote management on a sustained and regular basis, with shorter meetings, was very efficient in this troubled period, even better. The crisis is leading us to rethink our leadership and managerial skills to better adapt to the situation. So we have started to revisit our leadership trainings to focus further on the manager’s role and responsibility for his teams’ wellbeing, mental health and sense of community. This may reshape our roles for the long term. 

How do you see the next year regarding recruitment and ways of working?

First, we need to recognize that some trends highlighted by the crisis will become structural and that we will have to adapt to them, for example, to work from home. Second, we must keep reassuring and encouraging our employees to take on a long-term perspective, to look beyond the crisis. Finally, we need to continue adapting our ways of working and leadership tools to the post-crisis context.

As an HR leader, what would be your advice to candidates who would like to apply for a job at Imerys?

Imerys is always looking for people that have a sense of responsibility, an entrepreneurial mindset and teamwork skills. This crisis demonstrated that the ability to rapidly adapt is absolutely critical in our business. This is one of the great features of Imerys’ teams, who have shown great agility and commitment. There will always be a place for talented people like them, who make the difference, within Imerys.