Gartner, a research and advisory firm, released a workplace survey in 2018 that found that 80% of employees feel they lack the skills required in their current or future roles. Suffice it to say, for organizations jostling for position on their sector’s cutting edge, re-skilling workforces is an urgent task. Andrew Saidy, EMBA ‘2022, and Global Head of Talent & Learning at Seagate Technology, a computer hardware firm, is among the global HR leaders spearheading this effort.
“The world around us is changing,” he says. “Research shows that the half-life of skills is about four or five years. When it comes to more technical roles like software engineers, it can be about 18 months.”
A deep HR background
Versed in digital and cultural transformation of HR organizations, his roots in operational and managerial HR run deep.
After a spell at Baker Hughes, a global oilfield services company, he made an indelible mark over a six-plus-year career at Schneider Electric, a global energy management and industrial automation company with over 135,000 employees. There, as VP of Talent Digitization, he spearheaded change on a host of HR processes and policies, culminating in a key Schneider initiative, the Open Talent Market, a company-wide platform that leverages AI to connect internal talent with open opportunities at Schneider.
“I respect what we do in the human resources function” he says, explaining his core passion for a profession that has taken him from Oil & Gas to the energy and technology firms. “I appreciate the mission behind it, and I appreciate what we can do. It’s been made clear to me by COVID that if organizations take care of employees, they take care of the business. If you put your people at the heart of what you do, then your business is going to flourish.”
Ruba Saadeh, EMBA ’21, a global segments sales leader at Schneider, has firsthand experience of Andrew’s brainchild at the company: the platform, its potential, and its success.
“It’s amazing,” she says of the initiative. “I used that tool when I was looking for a job to transition from one role to another. Being a digital native and a millennial, Andrew managed to conceive of a tool that bridges the worlds of HR and digital.”
The HEC Paris EMBA: a network of possibilities
Andrew’s track record seems to speak for itself. Why, then, does the career of such an accomplished HR executive require the additional polish of an HEC Paris Executive MBA?
His two-part answer, apt for a multinational firm’s Head of Global Learning, lies in practicing what he preaches.
“Firstly, it is important for me to always keep learning– this is something that I advocate for in the organizations that I work in. The world around us is changing so fast and skills become obsolete, so you need to keep learning. Doing an Executive MBA was one of the best ways to do that.”
The Canadian transplant, who made his mark at Schneider out of their offices in Boston and Dubai, met the unpredictable and uncooperative realities of the COVID pandemic when he had to move to France to be with his family.
“Anyone I’m going to meet at an Executive MBA at HEC Paris is going to be a good contact for me to have, which has turned out to be true.”
The change in geography—stark as it was—was not the most challenging upheaval; for the serial re-skiller, that came in the change of human surroundings.
“In the US, I had a huge network of executives, HR organizations, and tech organizations that I do not have here in France, so that aspect of HEC’s program was important to me. Anyone I’m going to meet at an Executive MBA at HEC Paris is going to be a good contact for me to have, which has turned out to be true.”
Focusing on efficiency
As such, Andrew’s current focus is twofold: first, on affecting similar organizational impact at Seagate Technology that he was able to achieve at Schneider; and secondly, growing his network and making the most of his EMBA. The weekend format of classes he’s chosen fits well with his priorities.
“I think the end of week format is very efficient for professionals and executives who have a busy work life. Because the classes are every other week, I’m able to fully focus on my job during the week, reserving my weekends for classes.”
He recognizes the immense time requirement is not for the faint of heart. To juggle work, school, and family, he says, “make sure you have the bandwidth. Make sure you get the support of your family.”
“make sure you’re doing an EMBA for the right reasons. An EMBA is a growth engine to reskill yourself and learn something new, but some people are just doing it for the piece of paper at the end.”
Easier said than done, perhaps. Andrew manages it by leaning on one of his greatest strengths— his Teutonic efficiency.
“On workdays I need to dedicate to Asia, I start early in the morning at 7:00 a.m. to speak with the team in Thailand, China and India. I finish at 5:00 and then I take a break. And then at 6 :00 p.m. I do an hour or two of reading for my MBA. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are US days, which means that I start at 10 a.m., which gives me a bit of time in the morning to work out and do a bit of reading. So everything is sequenced in a very quick precision kind of way, which leads me not to be overwhelmed.”
Finally, Andrew remarks that to stay motivated– and successful– it’s fundamentally important to “make sure you’re doing an EMBA for the right reasons. An EMBA is a growth engine to re-skill yourself and learn something new, but some people are just doing it for the piece of paper at the end.”
More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe, and nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris Executive MBA is ranked #1 in Europe and #3 in the world; click here to learn more.
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