February’s Spotlight is provided by Sandrine Bardot of compensationinsider.com a training dedicated to training professionals in Compensation and Benefits.
Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
My name is Sandrine Bardot, I am French, and I am a trainer and consultant in Compensation & Benefits.
I have worked for almost 20 years in the corporate world, first based in Europe for companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Fiat and more. Then in 2007 I became the global Head of C&B for Majid Al Futtaim in Dubai. It was my first permanent job in the UAE, although I’d been traveling and working extensively in the region before as the MEA region was a big part of my focus in my multinational roles.
Later on, I became the Head of Performance & Reward for Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, overseeing their 100%-owned assets as well as C&B for the HQ, and advising the HR Business Partners on the set up of new companies and revision of existing Rewards policies in the companies that were already in place.
In March 2013, after 2.5 years in Mubadala, I resigned to pursue my dream of setting up my own training and consulting company. Two years later, I still have no regrets !
I’ve been here for a little over 7 years now, and the Middle East has been nothing but a land of opportunity for me, whether in-house or on my own. I love the mix of people and cultures that we all encounter every day, and feel blessed to have been welcome so nicely in this region.
2. How would you describe the culture of your business?
Well, I work on my own so all I can say is that I love the boss 😉 !
More seriously, I try to focus my business on truly bringing value to my clients, and am definitely picky when it comes to the projects I work on. I don’t take the jobs that can be done better by someone else (for example, when a whole team of experts with legal and actuarial background is needed), or where I feel I may not be the best provider.
Overall, my unique point is a mix of advice based on my experience in multiple industries and countries, combined with a “hands in the dirt” perspective coming from my years of actually doing the job in-house. This ensures my clients will be able to actually implement the solutions that are designed.
I think it gives them reassurance that a truly experienced person is looking after their best interest, and they also appreciate that I know how to push back from time to time, for the sake of ensuring the best end result for the project.
All in all this can be quite a different experience than the one you get from the larger consultancies, and most of my clients actually appreciate the sense that I bring them a unique solution, not some copy-paste from a past project or client.
3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
I will respond in terms of getting access to the decision-makers at my clients’ companies.
I usually am hired for projects by the HR Director and/or CEO of the client company. Having access to them is crucial in my area of specialisation, as I am often asked to audit incentives including those of senior management, or I prepare documents that need to be presented to and agreed by the Remuneration Committee and/or Board.
However, I also never forget that in many cases relating to Performance & Reward, many other stakeholders need to be involved, including line managers and employees. I always make sure that I am granted access to all, so that the project can unfold properly.
4. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
As an independent trainer, consultant, speaker and blogger, my biggest challenge for the next 5 years will be to continue to address the needs of my audience.
Many Rewards professionals feel trapped in the most basic aspects of C&B such as performing job descriptions and evaluations, or calculating salary increases. I want to continue help them grow their skills, become better professionals, and get the support they need from their management in order to move on, design, propose, and ultimately, implement new solutions and plans for their own organisations.
These challenges are widely felt in our field, and I recently wrote an article on that topic on my blog Compensation Insider, with some tips for C&B specialists. Through the ups and downs of our markets (Expo 2020, the oil prices falling, political instability in the wider region, population growth, infrastructure needs and nationalisation programs), I look forward to helping them think in new ways that will be beneficial to them as well as to their companies.
5. What is your philosophy?
I want to have spent my life learning, helping, sharing and smiling. So far, I think I’m on track 🙂
Sandrine Bardot Managing Director, The Bardot Group
Mobile: +971 526 414 388
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