Webinar Recap: Retail Spotlight: Engaging Alumni: Our People Are Our Brand

by Alumni Content in Alumni Leaders Podcast, Video   |    Last Edited: 10th January 2022

Leading retailers Harrods and Chalhoub Group include their retail alumni in the employee experience. In this webinar, we give the spotlight to retail to find out how these organizations are extending their brand, talent, and transformation programs to this critical component of their workforce.  

As renowned luxury brand names with considerable workforces to manage, both businesses have approached the idea of investing in an employee who’s leaving and may never come back from a different angle. 

In terms of employee tenure, typically, retail is either known to be high churn, or you’ve been there for your entire career. So, what steps are brands taking to shake this mindset and get to a space where investing in alumni can reap rewards for the workforce and company?

Guest Speakers:

Nicola Beck is Head of Talent Acquisition for the Chalhoub Group based in Dubai. She regularly engages with alumni from a recruitment perspective to identify boomerang employees for the business. 

Iyad Rahme, Head of Digital HR, joins Nicola from the Chalhoub Group. He is responsible for scouting for digital platforms and is subsequently working closely with Nicola on their alumni project. 

Finally, we have Max Barnard, who is in Employee Experience and Employer Branding at Harrods in London. His job is to develop a set of employee values and really carry it through to become part of the business identity.

Retail Alumni As Part Of The Employee Experience: Key Takeaways To Work Through

1. The Conversation Around Employee Value Is Evolving

Often, the question of whether or not to invest in retail employees centers around how long they have worked for a business. 

But, Max suggests that tenure shouldn’t be the only factor when measuring an employee’s worth. It’s equally possible for someone to have a huge impact in a short space of time. 

People who can enter the scene and create genuine customer experiences that have never been done before are the ones you want to keep in touch with and invite back. And it doesn’t have to be within the context of full-time employment; it can be seasonal or part-time, depending on the requirements at hand.

Alumni programs are a way to demonstrate the organization’s culture and people’s promises, helping it maintain ties with the departing workforce.

2. Alumni Exist. Businesses Should Own Their Programs

Nicola mentions that it doesn’t matter if employees have been with you for a week or several years. When they leave, they exist out there whether or not you have a platform or program to engage them on. 

Owning your program and staying connected gives these people a way back to the organization. It also helps them keep in touch with what’s happening internally and maintain a connection to something that has been important to them for a long time. 

Essentially, the program can be a way to give back and uphold an element of family within the workforce. 

There is also the aspect of having control over the narrative around your employer branding when you own your program. Max talks about how, historically, there’s been this fear of alumni as they’re this hidden Facebook group or they’re leaving negative responses on Glassdoor. 

However, it’s possible to change this with an alumni program. Community managers are now in a position to spin a positive light on the business. Not only can they monitor and respond to negative PR, but they can also educate the leadership team. 

All of a sudden, there’s this bank of information about ex-employees you didn’t previously have access to. You can single out the positive stories and make a list of who’s coming back.

3. Former Employees Are A Source Of Business Insight

As well as being brand ambassadors, retail alumni also have unique insight into the products you sell and overall customer experience. The trick is not only to broadcast; it’s actually to listen. 

Iyad mentions that Chalhoub involves their communities in customer experience hackathons. The exercises involve a lot of brainstorming about new products or brand development, which they consider to be a valuable learning experience. 

Similarly, Max speaks about an upcoming campaign that will involve employees and alumni. The business will reach out to ask them what they think the company can do differently and to get their ideas for innovation.

4. Amplify Alumni Successes and Attract Qualified Talent

Retail businesses should celebrate their alumni who go on to do great things. Yes, it’s not with your company, but, ultimately, it was a stepping stone for the person to get there.

What this fact (authentically) says to the world is, ‘this organization is a great place to work. Look what happened to this person after they left… maybe there are the same types of opportunities there for me too.’

Highlights and Notable Quotes From The Session 

Alumni is a really important step in the career journey; just as important as joining a business is how a person exits it.

In the words of Josh Bersin, the employee experience doesn’t end at the exit interview. Alumni are still employees, as long as they want to remain part of the family.

Arm alumni with the knowledge to protect you.

This is something Coca-Cola once said, which is critical in protecting your brand image online. Unfortunately, the internet is a breeding space for misconstrued stories, untruths, and hearsay. But, arm your alumni with the right knowledge and step in to correct the narrative, and you can shift the conversation in your favor. 

To capitalize on your customer (or alumni) experience, you need a great employee experience.

In retail, it’s rarely enough to just be a good brand. You’re going to have to work on providing an outstanding employee experience, which, in turn, is reflected in customer and alumni service.

Nowadays, retailers have powerful digital tools to survey and measure both employee and customer experience. Do the survey, take action on the results, and then show employees and customers (we include alumni in this) precisely what you’re doing with the information.


Max Barnard, Employee Experience & Employer Branding at Harrods
Nicola Beck, Head Of Talent Acquisition at Chalhoub Group
Iyad Rahme, Head Of Digital HR at Chalhoub Group


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James Sinclair: hi everyone, this is James Sinclair welcome back to the corporate alumni leaders webinar i'm the Principal of enterprise alumni with a market leading alumni management and engagement platform.


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James Sinclair: And today i'm excited to dig into the details, with our three incredible guests, the focus of today's conversation is really around the employment brand experience and how it applies to the retail sector.


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James Sinclair: So with that actually want to just jump straight in because i've got so many questions, I want to ask, and I know this is going to be a big conversation, and I want to welcome our guests we're thrilled to be joined by add remy from.


00:09:37.770 --> 00:09:46.200

James Sinclair: Chile group Nicola back from Chile group and Max Bernard from Harrods so with that maybe I can start with you Nicola and what i'd like to know is.


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James Sinclair: Could you provide a quick intro who you are where you're from your role but also why or to what extent alumni comes under your roof if that's the correct word.


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Nicola Beck: Sure thanks James so my name is Nicola and i'm the head of talent acquisition for the sleep group based in Dubai and.


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Nicola Beck: So alumni has kind of fallen under my umbrella it obviously has quite a heavy hand in terms of what we like to call boomerangs and recruitment element and that's kind of my angle, with it, alongside with us.


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James Sinclair: amazing thanks Nick let maybe i'll just go straight to add and ask you the same question.


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Iyad Rahme: hi everyone i'm.


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Iyad Rahme: The head of digital HR group and I love night falls under my umbrella because I had to source for the tool.


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Iyad Rahme: Oh really so so.


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Iyad Rahme: So mainly part of my job is to scout for for for digital platform, and I was so intrigued and this and this project that I was really fully involved and i'm working very closely with Nicola.


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Iyad Rahme: And being ancient who group you want me to introduce the group of it.


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James Sinclair: yeah that'd be amazing.


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Iyad Rahme: yeah yeah so social group is the retailer based out of the Middle East, we have high end luxury brand and workforce of 12,000 employee we're a family business that was founded around 65 years ago and.


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Iyad Rahme: Our mission is to delight our customer and bring.


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Iyad Rahme: Sorry, bring bring luxury experiences to our customer anywhere and the word.


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James Sinclair: amazing Thank you Max obviously you're going to have to introduce your brand that no one's heard of So if you would, if you wouldn't mind telling us the small little business that you work for.


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Max Barnard: it's a small little retailer in London called Harrods so good afternoon or good morning everyone.


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Max Barnard: My name is Max spawn ours on employee experience and telecommunications manager at Harrods.


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Max Barnard: i've been with the business for around three years, and you know, for those of us who don't know Harrods you know we are probably one of the best known luxury brands in the world.


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Max Barnard: partnered with you know any any type of luxury concession, you could possibly imagine, and I was born to the business to develop.


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Max Barnard: A set of employee values and people promise and the focus for me now is how do we make it real for people, you know how do we take those values.


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Max Barnard: from being a poster on the wall into something that really, really lives in the business that people believe, as part of that becomes our identity.


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Max Barnard: In terms of alumni i'm a firm believer that alumni is a really important step on your career journey so just as important as joining your business is how you exited that business.


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Max Barnard: And so they fall under my remit, because you know, to us, they are still our employees, you know as long as they want to be part of one of the part of the family.


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James Sinclair: yeah that's amazing Max it's something that I think josh person said, which is the employee experience doesn't end of the exit interview.


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James Sinclair: And I think that's consistent for for all three of you on the line, so if I could jump back to you Max and talk about kind of the early adopter when you think about retail.


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James Sinclair: Maybe within the mass market maybe not within luxury brand it's very often on the front line it's either kind of high churn or you've been there 71 years.


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James Sinclair: And so the conversation of alumni some people say well what's the point, people are coming in they're doing their three years they're doing their five years until they get their next gig and they're out and they're not coming back so kind of.


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James Sinclair: As an early adopter in that retail space, how do you I guess approach even that question of yes of course it's worth to invest in someone that's leaving, even if they may never be coming back.


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Max Barnard: yeah and for me as a change of mindset, I think that you know traditionally someone coming into your business and during a year or 18 months or being attempt.


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Max Barnard: You know, leaving the scene, you know as someone who's kind of you know, left to maybe not that much of an investment.


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Max Barnard: But I think for me that it doesn't matter how long your with the business, you can have a huge impact in a short space of time there so we've had people that have come in, for example as Christmas temps.


00:14:02.490 --> 00:14:08.220

Max Barnard: who have genuine created experiences for our customers that no one else has done before.


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Max Barnard: They have created a memory that will live along with that customer, which means that they will come back again and again and again and historically, you know that individual.


00:14:17.310 --> 00:14:22.890

Max Barnard: did their work they got paid they went off on Christmas, and you know, maybe we never heard from mega wave they play the next time.


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Max Barnard: Now I have an opportunity to continually demonstrate to them that our culture are looking for people like them, and we have an opportunity to.


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Max Barnard: I think, give them more of an insight into our employer brand and what we're really about, so you know what our values are what are people promises.


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Max Barnard: And what innovation that we're working for this time, so those people that have been with the business for a short period of time is still really, really, really important.


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Max Barnard: And then, at the other end of the spectrum for those people that have been with the business for a really long time.


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Max Barnard: yeah we want to make them feel special you know, I think, historically, traditionally, you know you kind of go, given your clock and there's the round of applause and that's lovely.


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Max Barnard: But actually they still want to be connected, they still want to be part of this organization, so if you've been with me for a week you've been with me for 14 years.


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Max Barnard: As long as you really believe in what we're trying to do, and you want to create genuine customer experiences or you've lived a values in a way that means that your colleagues think that you're a great person.


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Max Barnard: I want to stay connected to you to either give you that route back to us fingers crossed one day or so you still feel like you have a connection to something that's been important for you, for a long time.


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James Sinclair: I mean that's such a monstrously massive thing to say, which is we don't care how we pay you part time full time contract Christmas.


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James Sinclair: If you are high, going to have an impact on our business in any manner, then that never leaves you know I had, I want to move that straight kind of to you and you think about digital hr.


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James Sinclair: I know the transformation process you've been on for the past few years is just.


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James Sinclair: monstrous and massive and I guess, this is what you're starting to see is the realization of all of your hypotheses and all the things that you want to do as an organization, but you know you guys are global in nature.


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James Sinclair: You know your brand as a luxury brand probably has some some ideas associated with it, with it may or may not be true.


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James Sinclair: You know I think when you deal with luxury people make assumptions about what type of people are qualified to work there, what type of people should work there and what you expect.


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James Sinclair: So number one i'd love to hear a little bit more about that and be kind of how this alumni for essentially the front line you know if we go around the office, the Office, how the frontline alumni works and how you're looking at is the same as howard's.


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Iyad Rahme: So for the we just launched so for the frontline alumni which will still looking at it either we're still figuring out how to look at it, but I do agree with with with pirates and what matt just said that whoever is making an impact on our business or our on our customers should be.


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Iyad Rahme: valued and should be part of our alumni and even though we're still working on the threshold and we're still not sure if we include all our frontline because we have around 70 or 80,000.


00:17:09.360 --> 00:17:19.740

Iyad Rahme: leavers and alumni since you have been in the region for a long time, but I do completely agree with with Max it's not about.


00:17:20.130 --> 00:17:28.260

Iyad Rahme: What they did when they were with us, but it's about how they left us and how we kept the values of the family and the values of the group with them.


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Iyad Rahme: And it's Nice because, while while checking the alumni platform and while accepting.


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Iyad Rahme: The alumni as you see their stories and you read their stories and you see how shalhoub really impacted their life and build their career and was a big part of their life and it makes a difference so.


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Iyad Rahme: This is the experience that we're really looking at I don't know if Nicola you want to add to that as well.


00:17:54.060 --> 00:17:59.460

Nicola Beck: yeah Thank you, I think I think there's two things I just pick up on and Max Max references this sort of.


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Nicola Beck: The promise of people and the EP that we have part of that is connection makers people truly do make connections and maybe, particularly because a lot of the people here are experts.


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Nicola Beck: And what we found was that whether we had this program and platform or not we had alumni.


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Nicola Beck: We had alumni that would share stories quite often, they would know what was going on in the company anyway, sometimes more than I did.


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Nicola Beck: So we just wanted to have somewhere where we could stay connected to them, we could give them different things and that's where this family element really came into things and for us.


00:18:32.160 --> 00:18:33.120

Max Barnard: To have a question about that.


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James Sinclair: Nicholas sorry Max i'm going to jump back to you guys, I actually do and I can't wait to hear what you have to say I apologize.


00:18:37.950 --> 00:18:40.920

James Sinclair: So Nick you know the the mentality used to be.


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James Sinclair: If you left your traitor if you left.


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James Sinclair: we're done with you, you know, and I assume you have the same executive makeup is Harrods and some other organizations do let's call it perhaps old school or so forth, or maybe i'm totally wrong.


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James Sinclair: But how is alumni kind of been embraced as.


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James Sinclair: Actually, leaving the great thing you're going to leave you're going to do something amazing you're going to get more skills you're going to come back how's that looked internally for you and having the recruiting role.


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James Sinclair: of being the one that's going to have to be like hey we're hiring this person back remember when they left you know how does that work for you.


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Nicola Beck: yeah, so I think we've always tried to treat people very humanely when they've.


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Max Barnard: Left everyone.


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Nicola Beck: Leaving to just as good as when the when the when they're joining, and I think, for us, the bonds have always been there with people when they've left what hasn't always been there is this appetite or readiness to hire people back and that's what we've seen change with with.


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Nicola Beck: The adoption of this alumni but also the appreciation that people can go somewhere else.


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Nicola Beck: can work somewhere else can get a lot of valuable experience and bring that back with them and benefit the company so that's probably the biggest win or difference that scene with with the work that we've been doing is getting the business with a with a warm heart, as it were.


00:19:55.140 --> 00:19:58.980

James Sinclair: Totally makes sense Max I want to lob straight to you I interrupted I apologize.


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Max Barnard: Now is I can instruct you first now I was just going to follow up on one necklace saying, and you know about this existence of alumni.


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Max Barnard: they're going to go somewhere and for us, they are really, really important extension of our employer brand so before we had enterprise alumni.


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Max Barnard: A lot of our alumni network found themselves on Facebook, as part of a group there, which I believe is called X Harrods employees.


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Max Barnard: And, and you know we can't access that it's set up and there's a lot of negative press about us on there.


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Max Barnard: And our business has been changing a huge amount in the last two five years we've been on a huge cultural transformation, so we need to be able to have a platform where we can actually share what is happening in our business now.


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Max Barnard: So when somebody says, you know, in the pub to their friend who used to work at Harrods Oh, you know it's that business that's owned by Mohammed Al fired.


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Max Barnard: You know where this happened in the past, they can say well you know, first of all we've been owned by different owners.


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Max Barnard: In 2011, and these are the stories that we have around inclusion diversity around sustainability, and you know around changes to the way that customers experience things so.


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Max Barnard: These people are going out into the world, and they now have stories from us, which are true and genuine and accurate rather than getting their information, and you know through hearsay so we trust them with the information we know they're going to use it well.


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James Sinclair: that's so amazing to hear you know we heard Coca Cola say something very similar which is it's our responsibility to arm our alumni with the knowledge to protect us.


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James Sinclair: And if we don't we can't be shocked when they don't protect us, and so they take it kind of work, you know, and we did that interview was very personal passion of saying.


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James Sinclair: we've got a million alumni out there, imagine if we just gave them the right information.


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James Sinclair: Imagine if we just told them what we're going to do for sustainability what we're going to do to get off the list of the top polluters to.


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James Sinclair: decrease our requirement on plastics imagine if we just told them one thing every now and again that's a million people, and if they only tell one person.


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James Sinclair: it's still huge and so you know I guess that question comes back to you I add, when you think about this from you know you being a family business and.


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James Sinclair: You know what we heard from max's brand you know, and she wasn't so much about recruiting it wasn't so much about boomerang highs yes amazing awesome we'd love to have you back, but actually it's.


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James Sinclair: There are some perceptions about Harris, there are some perceptions about every brand and you're.


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James Sinclair: Talking The only question is whether or not you're in the conversation.


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James Sinclair: There happened that's happening so how you kind of approach this conversation and kind of alumni as ambassadors of kind of your family, because I know your people.


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James Sinclair: have very enthusiastic and the sense of love, I felt just being a vendor has been amazing, and so I know that carries on So how do you look at that kind of brand Ambassador role.


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Iyad Rahme: So so it's not only about what like Coca Cola Coca Cola is amazing at what they're doing and letting them know what Coca Cola, is doing, but.


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Iyad Rahme: The what what we are trying to do, as well as hearing from them and keeping the connection with them, because we really have this family.


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Iyad Rahme: spirit and shampoo and you can hear it from everyone that have left so not only we want to we want them to know what's happening with the group, but we want to know what's happening with them.


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Iyad Rahme: And we want them to be involved in a lot of our communities like we do customer experience hackathons we do a lot of brainstorming about.


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Iyad Rahme: about new products or new brand development we have our own greenhouse or our own incubator and.


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Iyad Rahme: Our internal incubator for employees, we want them to be involved in that so it's not only about us letting them know what shalhoub is doing, but it's about healing from them.


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Iyad Rahme: Getting support from them, because a lot of people that have left childhood always came back and supported the.


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Iyad Rahme: Whether it was with information from brand was the support and any digital implementation tool and I go back to a lot of my ex HR employees to to ask or take reference for for few tools so, so I think it would be it's it's the bond that we're trying to create.


00:24:08.370 --> 00:24:12.750

James Sinclair: that's a really so it's not only to broadcast it's actually to listen.


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Iyad Rahme: So yeah which.


00:24:14.370 --> 00:24:15.210

James Sinclair: which I know.


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James Sinclair: is tough for companies to attach to another need to say they're going to listen, but to actually listen, you know why send the survey if you're not going to do anything with the results type of thing.


00:24:24.420 --> 00:24:34.710

James Sinclair: You know from your side Nicola you know how does or have you seen kind of the listening because presumably when you leave you feel more empowered to give honest feedback, perhaps.


00:24:34.920 --> 00:24:44.640

James Sinclair: about areas about opportunities for improvement, innovation, new areas that you might not have seen, I mean some of the greatest innovation happens on the front line just someone finding a better quicker way to do it.


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James Sinclair: How do you think that plays into the kind of candidate experience when you're now pulling people back that have been through the company they know everything good and bad.


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Nicola Beck: yeah, so I think i'll just talk about the the the survey side of things that we learned.


00:25:01.140 --> 00:25:09.150

Nicola Beck: When we were inviting our them and stop them and we asked them what do you want to see, and I think the strongest one that came back was.


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Nicola Beck: Yes, coming back to work, but group news, and I was quite surprised to see that because we.


00:25:14.370 --> 00:25:21.420

Nicola Beck: communicate a lot on linkedin we communicate on instagram Facebook, the press and I kind of thought you could get that information anywhere.


00:25:21.750 --> 00:25:31.920

Nicola Beck: But what they were most interested to see was this great news, and so this idea of sort of employee advocacy or even alumni see is actually much, much bigger than what we thought.


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Nicola Beck: And so far our biggest driver of traffic to that is actually through linkedin and people share the fact they've joined the alumni program so I just think it's amazing because it spreads today and I have to say, a very senior Member of our company screenshots of me that.


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Nicola Beck: I think is green and gold, so I get the colors right.


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Nicola Beck: forever had about three or four different people sending me so.


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Nicola Beck: This is brilliant, so I think we can ignore the power of that kind of communication social media side what's happening.


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James Sinclair: So, then, can I asked maximum or direct question, how do you measure that, how do you report these high fives these This is great this i've heard good things.


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James Sinclair: How do you how do you report that, from a budgetary perspective or from a KPI perspective when someone says was this program worth it, and everyone knows it was everyone's had a great time everyone's smiling people are happy, but.


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James Sinclair: How do people upstairs or in finance qualify that this investment of time or money makes sense.


00:26:33.810 --> 00:26:45.570

Max Barnard: yeah so this this to your metrics I would look at, so what one is growth, you know simple as that, so we started with nothing you know we started with a network, and you know alumni network of zero people.


00:26:46.020 --> 00:27:01.380

Max Barnard: And we're watching it grow week on week on week and you know, particularly since we've done the work so that the plugin with linkedin we've seen that really accelerate and so that's our first metric and then the second one, there is a degree of.


00:27:02.400 --> 00:27:13.140

Max Barnard: anecdotal evidence with this it's not a hard KPI, but it is around engagement, so when I hear people saying, did you read that story, did you see that thing when i'm understanding.


00:27:13.980 --> 00:27:20.370

Max Barnard: and seeing emails being forwarded between my director say I didn't know that or have you heard what this person is doing now.


00:27:21.030 --> 00:27:28.650

Max Barnard: That for me is how I can then go and do the storytelling to my finance department and to you know it until our.


00:27:29.220 --> 00:27:40.050

Max Barnard: Senior leadership team, so I think historically there's been this this fear of alumni because they've been in this hidden Facebook group or they're leaving negative responses on glass door.


00:27:40.320 --> 00:27:47.640

Max Barnard: we're now in a position to say here's a list of positive stories for you here's some things you never knew and here's a list of people who are coming back.


00:27:48.090 --> 00:28:00.000

Max Barnard: And it's not just about people coming back it's also about people who are then going on to do great things, who are prepared to talk about Harrods and a positive life so we found out and we had no idea about this, the Charles terror.


00:28:00.330 --> 00:28:09.510

Max Barnard: And that business was set up by someone who's first job was at hertz and we never would have known that if it wasn't for this piece of technology.


00:28:10.200 --> 00:28:16.200

Max Barnard: And we interviewed him amazing piece amazing, but one of the best things I think that my team produce.


00:28:16.590 --> 00:28:27.060

Max Barnard: And the feel good factor for all of my senior leaders to see that talk about it, to engage with it, because you can't put a price on that, like, I know that sounds really cliche but you can't say.


00:28:27.690 --> 00:28:34.620

Max Barnard: You know when you're when you're talking to me about you know metrics kpis how to justify that is how I justify its that feel good say engagement headset growth.


00:28:35.430 --> 00:28:45.270

James Sinclair: So I love all of that, and without going down that path, one of the X linkedin employees created glass door and got and linkedin.


00:28:46.020 --> 00:28:51.570

James Sinclair: linkedin changed my perspective, a lot when they came on the webinar talked about stuff which is number one you know I heard this from linkedin I heard this from.


00:28:51.780 --> 00:28:57.090

James Sinclair: Colleague was gina who left Nike and she said, you know, we want to take credit for where you are.


00:28:57.330 --> 00:29:05.760

James Sinclair: As in the reason you're in the role now is because we were a great employer, because we trained you right because we set you on the path we gave you a network we gave you.


00:29:05.970 --> 00:29:14.190

James Sinclair: The skills, we can be the discipline the cadence so when you go to your next role and successful we're not we shouldn't be annoyed we should be like our pleasure.


00:29:14.700 --> 00:29:22.950

James Sinclair: You know, and so, to that extent, you know I had you talked about your incubator you talk about innovation, you talk about things you're doing in the communities.


00:29:23.220 --> 00:29:34.950

James Sinclair: Where essentially you're you're not blurring the lines between employee and alumni you're just saying, people who are friends of the family or friends of the business should be treated like friends of the business.


00:29:35.850 --> 00:29:39.480

James Sinclair: And that's the end of the story is that kind of how you how you think about it.


00:29:46.950 --> 00:29:48.540

Nicola Beck: That was well bounced Thank you yeah.


00:29:52.200 --> 00:29:54.600

Nicola Beck: Thanks, can you repeat the question because you've heard it yet.


00:29:54.630 --> 00:29:55.800

Iyad Rahme: Now i'm going to answer it.


00:29:55.920 --> 00:30:04.200

James Sinclair: yeah no problem so so I mean what what we heard from Max and what was delightfully bounced by ad which we will hold against him for the rest of his life, obviously.


00:30:04.470 --> 00:30:12.240

James Sinclair: It is is this concept that you know I had Max everyone's talking about people being involved involved in the brand involved in the news involved in the.


00:30:12.270 --> 00:30:14.280

James Sinclair: Greenhouse and sustainability.


00:30:14.730 --> 00:30:25.530

James Sinclair: And there's not much difference between an employee and alumni in terms of this concept of being great and just being a value and being of service and so you're seeing this kind of.


00:30:25.860 --> 00:30:31.890

James Sinclair: Uniform if you have been part of our family whether that's howard's or chiluba any organization on earth.


00:30:32.250 --> 00:30:35.160

James Sinclair: And you want to stay part of the family.


00:30:35.460 --> 00:30:42.480

James Sinclair: we're delighted to have you and we're going to let our guard down a little bit and we're going to talk about topics, perhaps that are uncomfortable and.


00:30:42.660 --> 00:30:53.100

James Sinclair: we're going to have to take new steps and new strides, and so I guess, my question is again how is that being broken or thought about internally surely someone had a conversation somewhere with.


00:30:53.460 --> 00:31:03.330

James Sinclair: Oh, my God, if we do this, people are going to come in and be Trolls and be angry and have tantrums or what happens if they say something negative, and so I guess, my question is, how do you manage that.


00:31:03.600 --> 00:31:11.460

James Sinclair: Risk internally and and how have you kind of defended you know the platform to a certain extent, that is the right thing to do, yeah.


00:31:11.700 --> 00:31:16.590

Nicola Beck: So i'll come back to the family element for us so actually what was interesting to see what this whole project is that.


00:31:17.280 --> 00:31:28.350

Nicola Beck: There were a few separate parties that came to the table, or with the same idea so HR for sure saw the value in it that wasn't a big sale and actually our CEO and our family and the founders of our company.


00:31:28.860 --> 00:31:33.270

Nicola Beck: wanted to do this, you know they wanted to extend that formal arm to people.


00:31:33.930 --> 00:31:42.240

Nicola Beck: Knowing like I said before, that it was there any way and just extend the relationship in terms of offering l&d in terms of taking that learning in through mentorship.


00:31:42.510 --> 00:31:47.220

Nicola Beck: inviting them to the CSR events that we hold all the time, so actually for us.


00:31:47.730 --> 00:31:54.720

Nicola Beck: It wasn't difficult it wasn't necessarily any pushback at all, and in fact it was the reverse it was like Okay, how do we make this come alive.


00:31:55.080 --> 00:32:07.650

Nicola Beck: How do we make this interesting for alumni we're lucky to still have them in terms of them, offering their services, etc, so how to be what's in it for them like that was the question that I was asked, more than anything, as we went through this process.


00:32:09.000 --> 00:32:22.080

James Sinclair: So glass one further question about that, which is to what extent is it a is it an intelligent recruiting strategy to talk about the people that have left and the success they have you know, usually you see companies talking about you know this is frank, who.


00:32:22.080 --> 00:32:31.740

James Sinclair: works in marketing and our company, but now we're saying this is Sally she left a decade ago and look at the amazing life she's had you should come work for us how have you thought about that internally.


00:32:32.280 --> 00:32:42.510

Nicola Beck: yeah so the career reference point is an interesting thing and i'll be really transparent and saying that we recruit from all across the world, sometimes when I say to people i'm calling from shallow grave they're like.


00:32:43.080 --> 00:32:51.720

Nicola Beck: Okay, and then, when we start to talk about the brands that we work with their you know that obviously the world's biggest luxury brands in fashion and beauty they love that.


00:32:51.990 --> 00:33:02.880

Nicola Beck: So, actually, we can say people have gone on to work at dice Google eBay Facebook wherever that's a great career reference point, a lot of LV mh alumni as well, and so that certainly helps us to.


00:33:05.190 --> 00:33:15.840

Nicola Beck: highlight why we are a good place to work with authentic authenticity, so I think that that's you know that's always a good thing for me and when we were looking at the alumni stories, so what people have come after us.


00:33:16.440 --> 00:33:23.580

Nicola Beck: I was also super impressed same as Max said, you know some of these things we never knew now working at tatler now, when we have people working at.


00:33:24.030 --> 00:33:30.810

Nicola Beck: All these different companies which we are very proud of so it's nice to say that we are a great place to work for these reasons that we've seen through alumni.


00:33:31.800 --> 00:33:42.630

James Sinclair: And do you think Max going back to you, do you think that actually has an impact on how people look at your brand and they say wow this person worked at Harrods and is now X and is now why and.


00:33:43.110 --> 00:33:49.050

James Sinclair: I hate to ask again because you know the answer is you can't really measure it it's just priceless when you see that story.


00:33:49.230 --> 00:33:56.250

James Sinclair: But I mean this is a huge strategy we're starting to see happen in the market, which is people highlighting people that have left who are doing amazing things in the world.


00:33:56.490 --> 00:34:08.310

James Sinclair: As their recruitment strategy for their organization, it is you know, do you think this is kind of a whole new way of approaching recruitment of like hey Scott here because we're a good place to kind of springboard from.


00:34:09.000 --> 00:34:17.670

Max Barnard: yeah definitely is and and the work that i've been involved in from last three years, you know it touches recruitment marketing touches employer branding.


00:34:17.940 --> 00:34:27.150

Max Barnard: EP and internal communication, so all of those things are you know, really, really closely interlinked and central to it is we're trying to change the perception.


00:34:27.390 --> 00:34:35.670

Max Barnard: That you have to be a certain type of person to work with parents, I had it when the phone rang and they said oh it's you know, had a calling from Harrods I had a picture of my head.


00:34:35.910 --> 00:34:37.890

Max Barnard: Of who she was what she looked like.


00:34:38.130 --> 00:34:47.670

Max Barnard: I had an expectation when I attended, my first day where everyone would be like, and I was blown away by the fact way, everyone has really normal but there's something about them, that makes them perfect to the brand we work for.


00:34:47.970 --> 00:34:55.020

Max Barnard: So you're absolutely right that we now have an opportunity to kind of go up with these really positive messages about individual can say hey.


00:34:55.320 --> 00:35:03.780

Max Barnard: This person here what a Harrods they don't look or sound or have the experience that you thought they might have had before working at Harrods.


00:35:04.080 --> 00:35:12.000

Max Barnard: And now they've gone on to do something amazing so you'd be crazy not to have a look at us, regardless of your background and what it is that you do.


00:35:12.510 --> 00:35:14.130

Max Barnard: And then, when they join the business.


00:35:14.820 --> 00:35:23.460

Max Barnard: it's great because it links up so they come into the organization, they said oh it wasn't just the you know your sort of your traditional recruitment marketing come work here, where the best.


00:35:23.820 --> 00:35:29.730

Max Barnard: it's actually a real reflection of what people have seen externally, which relates to what they see internally as well.


00:35:30.180 --> 00:35:39.870

James Sinclair: So, removing surprised essentially from day one in the recruiting journey or pre the recruitment journey they're getting this visibility into what the brand is like what it feels like.


00:35:39.930 --> 00:35:45.780

Max Barnard: its authenticity it's it's real authenticity, that is there, and you know I think if i'd seen.


00:35:46.230 --> 00:35:52.620

Max Barnard: And you know let's say this i'm some of the people who I know have left of my time at Harrods if i'd seen their stories before.


00:35:52.800 --> 00:35:59.880

Max Barnard: I would have been more inclined to think Harris was a brand that I wanted to work for my expectation was i'm going to go into heritage for a couple of years.


00:36:00.570 --> 00:36:08.130

Max Barnard: Because it's an interesting project, I have no interest in what that brand represents and how wrong I was so I had to join the business in order to learn that.


00:36:08.310 --> 00:36:14.760

Max Barnard: Whereas I think now people are seeing things and coming in, on day one or interviewing knowing in advance that things are different from what they think.


00:36:16.050 --> 00:36:23.550

James Sinclair: I see you nodding nickel, am I just love this over to you as well, in terms of how alumni can kind of showcase the company behind the walls.


00:36:23.760 --> 00:36:33.510

James Sinclair: The company that i've learned to know I didn't know the first time I spoke to you, but you know X months in I now know the type of company, you are I know the kind of people you are the culture so.


00:36:33.900 --> 00:36:48.450

James Sinclair: You know to what extent are you going to use your alumni essentially to kind of vocalize your story of you are a good not only a great place to work you're an incredible place to work, and if you come and work at hulu group likely to have a career in X, Y Z if you want it.


00:36:49.560 --> 00:37:02.820

Nicola Beck: yeah I mean the good news for me is it's not that hard a piece of work, because you know, to use that word again the authentic thing you know they are telling their true stories of what happened and it's almost as simple as that, so I think our job is therefore making sure that we are.


00:37:03.270 --> 00:37:08.160

Nicola Beck: Using these stories the anecdotal evidence in the right way on our other platforms.


00:37:09.480 --> 00:37:15.660

Nicola Beck: Maybe we even have alumni talking to potential employees coming in, and we can we can think outside of books in terms of how we.


00:37:16.320 --> 00:37:29.250

Nicola Beck: How we use our alumni there so yeah I think it's a really nice opportunity again to come back feel authentic part of things just to have a window and highlight what it's really like to work in companies where people might have a complete different impression from the outside.


00:37:30.240 --> 00:37:32.880

James Sinclair: Especially people that are flying in touch Lou right.


00:37:32.910 --> 00:37:34.830

James Sinclair: You mentioned lube is hiring people.


00:37:35.160 --> 00:37:46.800

James Sinclair: around the globe who are going to have to relocate their entire life, so I can't even imagine how that works so we've talked about kind of the recruiting and recruiting opportunity we've talked about brand and that opportunity.


00:37:47.550 --> 00:38:00.060

James Sinclair: To what extent because you're like so you're both luxury retailers to what extent does that trickle in to sales or to revenue or to net new customers or to increase customers spend you know it is it.


00:38:00.720 --> 00:38:14.400

James Sinclair: Is it the your actual employees are potential customers or is that your employees on the bridge to your customers because they've delivered kind of epic service and his sales or revenue increase even one of the kind of pillars of your alumni Program.


00:38:16.470 --> 00:38:24.420

Nicola Beck: um I think both so we've done quite a lot of work in recognizing that link between employee experience.


00:38:25.380 --> 00:38:32.160

Nicola Beck: And customer experience and ultimately sales and obviously those two things are extremely linked, and I think alumni are very much a part of that.


00:38:32.850 --> 00:38:36.240

Nicola Beck: Class alumni still shopping our stores.


00:38:36.840 --> 00:38:45.030

Nicola Beck: So we want to make sure that they're happy they're coming back into the into the shops and that you know I think we're looking at kind of what benefits we can rent to encourage that.


00:38:45.330 --> 00:38:51.930

Nicola Beck: And because we have a number of different brands that we work with but yeah I think very intrinsically from from my point of view.


00:38:53.190 --> 00:39:04.770

James Sinclair: i'm going to love that straight to you kind of add as you think about this from a global HR strategy of employee experience and brand experience of the same thing deliver amazing be amazing deal if you're authentic you don't need to different experiences.


00:39:04.890 --> 00:39:06.120

James Sinclair: If you're not authentic.


00:39:06.180 --> 00:39:16.350

James Sinclair: You need to different experiences how have you kind of bridge that from a you know, a digital be global and see in pandemic where you're doing most of this from behind your desk.


00:39:17.550 --> 00:39:25.410

Iyad Rahme: exactly like you cannot you cannot have a good customer experience, if you don't have a good employee experience that will never work unless.


00:39:26.700 --> 00:39:32.190

Iyad Rahme: People are just buying your brand because it's a good brand and that's it but, but if you really want to.


00:39:33.570 --> 00:39:39.180

Iyad Rahme: Work and capitalize on your customer experience you need a great employee experience and.


00:39:39.600 --> 00:39:46.380

Iyad Rahme: We are using a lot of digital tools and surveys to measure our employee experience and our customer experience.


00:39:46.710 --> 00:39:50.970

Iyad Rahme: And, as we said we don't do the survey and just put it in the drawer and that's it.


00:39:51.300 --> 00:40:03.750

Iyad Rahme: We ensure that we're and we're taking action we're showing our employees that we're taking action we're showing our customers that we're taking action and we're linking both employee experience and we've noticed.


00:40:04.320 --> 00:40:19.350

Iyad Rahme: Nicola and I had a call with our head of yaks and our head of cx before the stoke and they they told us that we noticed that whenever we worked on the employee experience and it was increasing the customer experience was increasing.


00:40:20.310 --> 00:40:37.350

Iyad Rahme: Directly there's a direct link between them and what we were thinking of is also as our alumni or our customers, they would be great and being part of the customer experience focus groups and discussions and bring a lot of.


00:40:38.760 --> 00:40:51.840

Iyad Rahme: A lot of values, either from the experience, they are the work they are doing now, or from their experience as a customer so it's a win, win situation for us, I think, during the pandemic, it was.


00:40:53.130 --> 00:40:53.940

Iyad Rahme: It was.


00:40:55.020 --> 00:40:59.610

Iyad Rahme: hard for everyone, but since we had built.


00:41:00.840 --> 00:41:13.860

Iyad Rahme: A great employee experience we had an employee assistance program we were surveying directly our our employees to monitor their morale their well being and everything we notice that.


00:41:14.250 --> 00:41:26.160

Iyad Rahme: Employees we're we're we're standing on what's up, even though we had our clothes our store stores closed, there was no access some brands didn't have income yet.


00:41:26.340 --> 00:41:28.230

Max Barnard: So they had no access to.


00:41:29.010 --> 00:41:43.320

Iyad Rahme: The to the to the to the brands on ECON the employees were selling through itself, so it, it shows how devoted our employees or to their brand and honestly, I have a lot of friends or customers and they were.


00:41:43.860 --> 00:41:54.750

Iyad Rahme: They told me where it was amazing they were even delivering the goods and their own cards, so this is how much they are devoted to the group, and this is how much they would be great alumni wants to believe.


00:41:55.500 --> 00:41:58.440

James Sinclair: So I love that I want to get back to that innovation points I think is a.


00:41:58.440 --> 00:42:04.710

James Sinclair: monster conversation there, but I want to jump back to you Max around this employee experience and customer experience you can't have.


00:42:04.950 --> 00:42:13.650

James Sinclair: You know you can't fake it till you make it either is or it isn't goes back to your point of authentic which I think is kind of the theme for this how have you, you know, on this journey.


00:42:14.190 --> 00:42:25.860

James Sinclair: kind of made them all one just a great experience period every single touch point doesn't matter who you are where you are what you are is incredible how have you even have you approached that for an organization of your size.


00:42:26.820 --> 00:42:36.570

Max Barnard: And it's something which for me is probably one of the biggest challenges that we had when I come in to the organization, you know you see people who are on.


00:42:37.320 --> 00:42:51.570

Max Barnard: To the minimum wage selling watches 1.5 million pounds and yet they're still able to create that relationship, so in that moment, are we creating the same experience for our employees, as we are, as our customers.


00:42:52.260 --> 00:42:58.080

Max Barnard: with absolute honesty, I would say no we're not but this for us allows us to begin to.


00:42:59.400 --> 00:43:12.060

Max Barnard: Get that parity in place, so you know we're now investing to make sure that people see themselves as being as valued as possible in the business, but also when they leave, and so we talked a lot about.


00:43:13.140 --> 00:43:19.680

Max Barnard: You know the art of the possible Harrods and it's The thing that we deliver for our customers all the time they are the possible, anything is possible, we can do anything.


00:43:19.950 --> 00:43:26.850

Max Barnard: If we're really honest and we ask ourselves, are we treating employees the same way, so often it's not but.


00:43:27.390 --> 00:43:38.700

Max Barnard: And we've now stopped to challenge that to say that's not good enough and it doesn't matter if you've been with us go back to it for a month, a year 10 years 20 years they deserve to have that same level of treatment throughout.


00:43:39.210 --> 00:43:49.710

Max Barnard: So I think that we're starting to see that shift people are beginning to feel more valued and there isn't such a divide between what they see on the shop floor as what they see in the back of house when they're at home.


00:43:50.580 --> 00:43:58.380

James Sinclair: right when they open the employees only door on the third floor and go behind it's not okay now you just ended a totally different experience you know.


00:43:59.610 --> 00:44:08.070

Max Barnard: i've always i've always described parents as kind of a reverse narnia you come into this beautiful wonderful you know magical kingdom, and then you open the door this little Gray Office itself with the computer.


00:44:08.790 --> 00:44:15.810

Max Barnard: But you know it is improving and we're looking to you know how can we invest and make that employee experience better and whether that is in.


00:44:16.470 --> 00:44:20.340

Max Barnard: Your physical environment, whether or not it's physical, mental well being.


00:44:21.180 --> 00:44:26.670

Max Barnard: You know whether it's just you know employee voice, you know these are all things that we need to kind of amp up and improve.


00:44:27.030 --> 00:44:32.520

Max Barnard: And we're starting to see that, but those are important messages as well, to get out to our alumni network to say hey.


00:44:32.820 --> 00:44:40.920

Max Barnard: You know, historically, maybe we didn't have the parity that we wanted to you know, have always wanted to treat you well, perhaps it hasn't always been there.


00:44:41.160 --> 00:44:51.810

Max Barnard: These are the things that we brought in now, which is new and exciting so hey we now have employee networks, you know we have a Racial Equality and Diversity network, we have an LGBT Q plus network, we have a sustainability network.


00:44:52.050 --> 00:45:05.040

Max Barnard: We didn't have those things, two years ago, so how would we get that message out to say parity is getting better your experience is getting better so either come back great or tends to be tell your friends, you know that the perception is not what you think it is.


00:45:05.940 --> 00:45:11.040

James Sinclair: that's huge transparency to be able to say we weren't the company, we wanted to be.


00:45:11.520 --> 00:45:22.560

James Sinclair: And there's opportunities for expansion for growth for development, I feel like that's a monstrous step for any company to be able to say that I feel like the last few years has given the company's the ability to be more human.


00:45:22.950 --> 00:45:31.590

James Sinclair: To say we're trying we're exploring with being better so you know Nicola when I think about that from an innovation perspective or nicolette or if it's.


00:45:31.920 --> 00:45:34.680

James Sinclair: You know you talk about your frontline staff over the pandemic.


00:45:35.100 --> 00:45:43.710

James Sinclair: And we, you know, there is no one who knows how to do your operations, better than the employee in the store better the employee in the office better than the employee on the ground floor.


00:45:43.920 --> 00:45:53.370

James Sinclair: potentially a minimum wage, who knows, your business better than you do have how to get that bag to vacuum and and process it how have you kind of approached you know.


00:45:53.760 --> 00:46:05.640

James Sinclair: alumni because some of the alumni imagine you have a not by choice that people who do to Cyril pandemic reasons you have to let go again, not by choice, but how have you kind of sparked innovation, or at least kind of.


00:46:06.090 --> 00:46:15.540

James Sinclair: intake of ideas into your organization from people who have left the say I have a better way you're missing an opportunity, if you would just listen to me.


00:46:15.960 --> 00:46:24.510

James Sinclair: My manager never listened, you know to what extent, or how are you thinking around alumni from that moving the organization forward perspective okay.


00:46:25.020 --> 00:46:36.480

Nicola Beck: So maybe there's a couple of things that I just flag, so we are looking at well or doing a mentoring program so we're asking some of those alumni to volunteer, I suppose, to come back and.


00:46:37.650 --> 00:46:42.210

Nicola Beck: connect with our current employees to kind of share the learnings and the knowledge that they might have.


00:46:42.840 --> 00:46:49.260

Nicola Beck: And also require with a company that's very open to feedback, so we have a number of different places on that.


00:46:50.010 --> 00:46:57.780

Nicola Beck: On the platform that people can kind of just write in and say here's an idea and, as he was saying earlier, we we as a group, we have, we have a couple of different.


00:46:58.740 --> 00:47:08.670

Nicola Beck: Mechanisms or vehicles that we invite innovation in with so one is something that greenhouse it's an incubator that we have a number of different startups and cohorts come through.


00:47:09.210 --> 00:47:21.900

Nicola Beck: Every year, that are addressing retail issues and again we want to connect our alumni in with those cohorts and startups when they come in, because they will have knowledge at these people can can can use and we actually have an internal.


00:47:22.920 --> 00:47:28.470

Nicola Beck: platform that's called it pro, which is an Arabic word, and I think it means innovation and he had will correct me if i'm.


00:47:30.120 --> 00:47:37.590

Nicola Beck: Any internal employee again from come and pitch their idea, so if they have a startup if you have a good idea, so if you can come and you can give the idea.


00:47:37.860 --> 00:47:44.940

Nicola Beck: will give you three months, out of your day job or might give you a bit of funding, and you can take that idea and it and again the alumni can.


00:47:45.210 --> 00:47:52.800

Nicola Beck: mentor connect with these people internally to share their ideas and that they're learning so that's probably the main things I would I would call out a.


00:47:54.360 --> 00:47:54.630

Nicola Beck: Really.


00:47:54.690 --> 00:47:56.190

Max Barnard: amazing really amazing.


00:47:57.540 --> 00:48:05.910

Iyad Rahme: yeah yeah I think that and and if they have an idea that they want to pitch to the greenhouse as well, which is our external incubator they can do it.


00:48:07.020 --> 00:48:16.050

Iyad Rahme: They it, we will have a section as well, for them to be talking about programs or stuff that they're working on that.


00:48:17.220 --> 00:48:33.360

Iyad Rahme: Other alumni might be interested in and maybe it might be a startup that will control greenhouse so it can be anything honestly but it's just a way of them coming back to us mentoring us and supporting the group.


00:48:34.050 --> 00:48:44.460

James Sinclair: So I think she was quite unique in having a platform and an environment to accelerate internal innovation, I think I saw Max kind of nod with like with like one of those and I think.


00:48:45.180 --> 00:48:49.440

James Sinclair: That content we're seeing it more and more across all businesses where employees are.


00:48:49.740 --> 00:48:56.760

James Sinclair: encouraged to put together a business plan to put together an idea what problem, can you solve and the company's exactly doing that i'll give you X months out of your job.


00:48:56.970 --> 00:49:06.570

James Sinclair: We give you a little bit of funding will give you a little bit of help, and you can see if you can get it off the ground and in three months let's have a look, and some of them have turned out to be wildly profitable, some of them have added new products.


00:49:08.280 --> 00:49:16.770

James Sinclair: On the Harrods if I was to move to you Max you know how do you even think about the person walking out the door may actually have the next best idea.


00:49:17.010 --> 00:49:22.410

James Sinclair: You know, for growth, especially around this transformation in the past 18 months doesn't matter who you are where you are.


00:49:22.680 --> 00:49:28.590

James Sinclair: you've had to digitally transform whether you agree with it or not, whether you believe that everyone had to be in the office or not, whether you had some.


00:49:28.800 --> 00:49:44.040

James Sinclair: legacy perspectives it all flew out the window today that's kind of the pandemic it we're all digital So how do you kind of approached the innovation or how do you think about that, for your employees your alumni for your customers, how do you think about that kind of intake of ideation.


00:49:45.300 --> 00:49:48.510

Max Barnard: yeah we're going to be launching a new campaign.


00:49:49.530 --> 00:49:57.900

Max Barnard: Next month project called returned to strike like a cove it has been horrible for our business unit for the whole of the retail sector it's been incredibly difficult time.


00:49:58.350 --> 00:50:09.060

Max Barnard: And so it's for us it's all about every individual has the ability to do small little things that together make big changes and part of that is actually going to be.


00:50:10.770 --> 00:50:19.380

Max Barnard: As sort of an innovation competition, and so it doesn't sound quite as well defined as what mccullough was talking about which does an amazing i'm quite jealous.


00:50:20.130 --> 00:50:27.450

Max Barnard: But it is an opportunity for us to really reach out to our people and say you know we're back in the business now we're we opened our doors are open.


00:50:27.870 --> 00:50:33.030

Max Barnard: And what should we be doing differently, what ideas, if you go and you know you might be a lorry driver.


00:50:33.360 --> 00:50:44.280

Max Barnard: packing boxes, or you might be a buyer maybe you've got an idea for something else, then another part of the business and the hope is that we can also kind of engage with our concession partners on this as well to really promote that idea of.


00:50:44.460 --> 00:50:51.720

Max Barnard: We are one business, you know, if you like, within haircuts there's an opportunity for you to have a say in a voice it's really, really important.


00:50:52.140 --> 00:51:00.720

Max Barnard: And I think, from an alumni perspective that's probably the next step for us and the priority for us, I think you know, particularly after kovar was taken care of people.


00:51:01.590 --> 00:51:07.920

Max Barnard: You know a lot of people either before she had to leave our business, we wanted to make sure that they had the correct support.


00:51:08.820 --> 00:51:18.180

Max Barnard: We wanted to make sure that they were still felt connected to our brand and they had an opportunity to say how they were feeling it give us their thoughts I think once we get to a stage where.


00:51:20.280 --> 00:51:27.840

Max Barnard: You know covert is not the thing that we're talking about the most, which you know fingers crossed you know, six months or so maybe 12 months.


00:51:28.260 --> 00:51:32.460

Max Barnard: And will then start looking at that innovation, because I think that by that stage.


00:51:32.970 --> 00:51:40.200

Max Barnard: The Community that we've developed and grown should be really well cemented and they should feel really, really connected to what they're doing so, then when we go to ask them.


00:51:40.410 --> 00:51:46.710

Max Barnard: What are your thoughts about this, you know what should we change about this they're going to be in a really nice safe place where they feel comfortable to do that.


00:51:47.670 --> 00:51:56.880

James Sinclair: yeah that makes total sense, and again I was totally jealous when I first heard about the greenhouse or to like a formal program for like it's just amazing I think so many companies.


00:51:57.120 --> 00:52:02.910

James Sinclair: don't want to hear or pretend to want to hear the perspective of the employees, but the employees, often have the greatest ideas they just need.


00:52:03.210 --> 00:52:07.080

James Sinclair: The help they're not all entrepreneurs they're not all developers are not all engineers.


00:52:07.320 --> 00:52:14.100

James Sinclair: They just have an idea and they don't know how to go from idea to execution so i'm just a massive kind of believer and, as you kind of mentioned, even at the beginning.


00:52:14.370 --> 00:52:25.950

James Sinclair: Your alumni are probably already talking about these improvements these ideas off if Harris just did this one thing if to loop just change this one thing you know, the world would be a better place, so you know, I think.


00:52:26.430 --> 00:52:31.170

James Sinclair: As we touched on kind of my final point, before I get into some of the questions I see some amazing questions coming in.


00:52:31.680 --> 00:52:42.000

James Sinclair: I want to talk a little bit about this concept of mental health well being people development, especially as you've had to make hard decisions over the past year and a half and.


00:52:42.570 --> 00:52:46.050

James Sinclair: Potentially likely, there are people who are having a tough time.


00:52:46.410 --> 00:52:56.550

James Sinclair: And when you think about your obligation as an employer to someone you've had to let go through no fault of your own, not by choice they will be employed for you working and happy if it was your choice.


00:52:57.360 --> 00:53:13.800

James Sinclair: How are you thinking about mental health well being as organization wide be perhaps towards your alumni that are unemployed, not by choice and see doing that all kind of digitally and remotely and maybe I can start with you there, unless you wish to love that to nicolette also.


00:53:14.970 --> 00:53:15.390

Iyad Rahme: No, no.


00:53:19.620 --> 00:53:33.750

Iyad Rahme: So mainly was the one covered head, we started directly creating our employee well being and employee mental health program and we created an employee assistance program that.


00:53:35.130 --> 00:53:43.980

Iyad Rahme: Can any employee can call anonymously, and they can be supported with psychiatrist psychologist or or any kind of of how they might need.


00:53:44.730 --> 00:53:56.370

Iyad Rahme: What we do with our liver was our livers or regretted last, unfortunately, as all the detail word struggle we struggled as well, and we had to do some tough decisions.


00:53:56.700 --> 00:54:06.450

Iyad Rahme: it's mainly that we really keep in touch with them, not through the alumni pro platform, but through our HR team, we support them and.


00:54:07.680 --> 00:54:16.410

Iyad Rahme: An accomplished, and a country like Dubai you cannot be here, if you don't have a work permit or residency so we support them and keeping their residency for a while.


00:54:16.950 --> 00:54:24.360

Iyad Rahme: We keep in touch with them, ensure that they have the right opportunity I know Nicola and she will speak about that supports them and.


00:54:24.810 --> 00:54:40.110

Iyad Rahme: Building their linkedin profile writing their CV and funding or applying for new job so we really try to support them as much as possible mentally and professionally for them to move to the next level, and I think Nicola you want to take it from there for.


00:54:41.040 --> 00:54:49.350

Nicola Beck: yeah Thank you I decide on a tiny point yeah I mean, I guess, I guess the situation, the pandemic accelerated a lot of these things right, and having things ready.


00:54:49.650 --> 00:54:56.940

Nicola Beck: And I think luckily, for us, we started to address this, the importance of mental health and support in the workplace, just before.


00:54:57.720 --> 00:55:09.060

Nicola Beck: terms of the alumni we've just extended that out, you know it's very natural progression from our employees to our alumni and we've put a number of different webinars that our people experience team could organize with external.


00:55:10.530 --> 00:55:21.930

Nicola Beck: psychologists around things like resilience managing stress and that's now, when the alumni platforms, they have access to that kind of information that we have for our employees and again as.


00:55:21.960 --> 00:55:23.550

He had said, you know there's different.


00:55:25.020 --> 00:55:37.500

Nicola Beck: courses that we put together to make sure that yes, we've had to let you go and we didn't want to do let's at least try and help with your your next mission so treating them like employees and giving them access to the same things they're going to.


00:55:39.540 --> 00:55:39.780

James Sinclair: yeah.


00:55:41.130 --> 00:55:47.250

Max Barnard: So similar for us, you know, in terms of that initial outreach when we knew that people were going to have to be let go.


00:55:48.420 --> 00:55:56.010

Max Barnard: We made sure that we put our arms around them as much as we possibly could you know, in terms of access to our employee well being Program.


00:55:56.700 --> 00:56:06.540

Max Barnard: But also, with the support to you know find the roles coaching that type of thing I think what really scares me is that we just don't know what the impact is going to be yet.


00:56:07.050 --> 00:56:19.260

Max Barnard: So Harrods reopened on what April, the 12th so we're you know coming up to three three weeks and already we're starting to hear from managers from employees that people are really struggling.


00:56:20.250 --> 00:56:27.360

Max Barnard: With the change so whether it is coming back off furlough or whether actually it's someone that's been working in the store as a plumber say.


00:56:27.660 --> 00:56:36.630

Max Barnard: Effectively that's the isolation for six months or suddenly surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people, everyone has got their own challenge and their own you know mental health.


00:56:38.130 --> 00:56:49.350

Max Barnard: You know, issues which you know they're going to need to deal with so for us, I think it's just about being as transparent and open as we can possibly be there isn't a solution that is going to fit everyone, and I think.


00:56:50.190 --> 00:56:54.660

Max Barnard: I think there's also a fear that people have of putting their hand up to say I need help.


00:56:55.590 --> 00:57:03.060

Max Barnard: That still exists, so, even though we do have well being programs it's really, really well advertised are people using it as much as they should be.


00:57:03.480 --> 00:57:13.680

Max Barnard: You know what I just don't know so we're trying to find new ways to engage with people, and you know, looking at coaching our managers around how to do check ins effectively really promoting kind of the.


00:57:14.730 --> 00:57:18.540

Max Barnard: mental well being physical well being financial well being support which is on offer, as well.


00:57:20.280 --> 00:57:27.390

Max Barnard: of our values, you know, one of our values is we are human So how can we make people live, that in relation to coming back off the back of you know kind of 19.


00:57:28.380 --> 00:57:36.240

James Sinclair: I think a lot of people, especially as you go kind of down the hierarchy, a little bit have an issue with putting their hand up I need help, whatever that means whether its financial mental.


00:57:36.450 --> 00:57:44.460

James Sinclair: Well, being is having a therapist a sign of weakness is having a coach a sign of weakness and I think, as you progress in your career, you realize actually it's a sign of strength.


00:57:45.810 --> 00:58:01.860

James Sinclair: But no one tells you that at the beginning, because asking for help you know something is wrong with me and will I be replaced, can I ask how you guys i'd have normalized asking for help, to a certain extent is it the phone number that's you know confidential law is it.


00:58:02.760 --> 00:58:09.240

Iyad Rahme: So, so it is mainly the phone the phone number is confidential but it's also all the pulse surveys that we did because.


00:58:09.690 --> 00:58:20.460

Iyad Rahme: People know people now know the importance of our people experience and culture department and they've seen the change that had happened as as Nicola said before covered.


00:58:20.760 --> 00:58:30.960

Iyad Rahme: So they know that whenever there's a survey and they answered the survey that's action being taken and it's being taken by HR and their manager it's not only by their manager or.


00:58:31.200 --> 00:58:39.750

Iyad Rahme: or HR so we work closely with the business to provide was was the support, so I think was all the pulse survey and the results that we have.


00:58:40.140 --> 00:58:48.390

Iyad Rahme: We were able to target or or support people that needed help maybe a bit more than other and anonymous.


00:58:49.110 --> 00:58:56.970

Iyad Rahme: anonymous phone number helped a lot, because we we we can know the number of hours spent, but we cannot know who called the tsunamis.


00:58:57.630 --> 00:59:16.410

Iyad Rahme: So, but we know that there was a lot of people who called and reached out, we also did a lot of finance financial support two webinars because a lot of people were on for for low or other kind of leaves and they needed support to understand how they.


00:59:17.460 --> 00:59:19.530

Iyad Rahme: They live with the with the new.


00:59:20.550 --> 00:59:35.070

Iyad Rahme: situation that they are on now, and I think I think so far they worked well and we're slightly lucky being based out of Dubai and and our word we have.


00:59:36.030 --> 00:59:52.290

Iyad Rahme: We we didn't close much our stores, we closed them for for two months only mainly and we keep closing more than two opening them, so the business is, I think a bit better than then in Europe, so I think we're lucky in our part of the word for.


00:59:53.700 --> 01:00:01.740

Max Barnard: amazing we we've been we've been trying to storytelling a lot James to kind of normalize the conversation as well, so rather than, say.


01:00:02.760 --> 01:00:09.720

Max Barnard: Companies webinars they're available for you, where people just aren't necessarily engaging because either they're fair load or they're worried about putting their hand up.


01:00:10.110 --> 01:00:23.700

Max Barnard: we've been doing storytelling you know, so it is let's let's let's speak to one of our directors about that mental health, you know, so I hold all director of security left in the summer did an amazing piece for us about the challenges that he had been his wife died.


01:00:24.840 --> 01:00:36.840

Max Barnard: And that that's the way that we've started to say hey it's Okay, not to be okay, and rather than giving instruction to say you know go and speak to a therapist or you know go and speak with that.


01:00:39.360 --> 01:00:49.050

Max Barnard: CHF team, you know we're interviewing those people were doing videos with them we're doing editorial promoting pushing that message, because it's a little bit more real rather than being told his service.


01:00:49.230 --> 01:01:01.620

Max Barnard: it's listen to this story what's the story and see whether or not it resonates and relates with you and I think, by continuing to do that we're bringing mental health into being just something which is a little bit less stigmatized.


01:01:02.100 --> 01:01:07.650

James Sinclair: yeah I totally agree so I agree, personally I think it's amazing people do, and I think hearing that other people do it that you recognize.


01:01:07.860 --> 01:01:15.360

James Sinclair: That maybe you look up to is definitely winner so as we approach towards the last seven minutes of the webinar I have some questions that have come in that I just want to review.


01:01:15.630 --> 01:01:20.040

James Sinclair: i'm going to guess this one's from Nicola I can't wait to tell you, after two minutes, this is from.


01:01:20.520 --> 01:01:31.410

James Sinclair: This question is twofold number one is one, second, can I relocate to Dubai i'm an excellent HR leader, so that was my That was my favorite The second was to what extent can alumni.


01:01:31.680 --> 01:01:40.740

James Sinclair: or or enable your brand to distribute globally, so this lady is never heard of to group has looked on the Internet and basically said oh my God.


01:01:40.980 --> 01:01:46.620

James Sinclair: they're massive they're amazing how do I not know them I didn't know, there was opportunity to work there.


01:01:46.980 --> 01:02:01.590

James Sinclair: And, but it looks like I have mutual connections that do work there in London, so I guess Mike my question is to what extent do alumni expand your global recruiting reach of here's a company that you probably never heard of that actually is incredible.


01:02:03.000 --> 01:02:11.790

Nicola Beck: massively and you know for me very selfish in my talent acquisition world yeah it's a huge part of it, and I myself have done that move, I never heard heard of the company.


01:02:12.090 --> 01:02:16.110

Nicola Beck: came here and I was going to do two years and i've been here for eight years.


01:02:16.860 --> 01:02:26.100

Nicola Beck: So absolutely, this is what we want we've got a lovely map in our platform that shows us exactly where all that by all of the alumni are based.


01:02:26.430 --> 01:02:37.680

Nicola Beck: And we have not people in America, a lot of people in France in Australia all across the world, so that absolutely helps to get the message out again i'll just reference linkedin it's been huge seeing people sharing.


01:02:38.340 --> 01:02:48.090

Nicola Beck: them joining the alumni platform and I just it will just get that message out there, more and more for us so yeah for me i'm hoping for big results you can ask me in a year and answer that question in a year.


01:02:48.990 --> 01:03:03.600

James Sinclair: Listen to I think I think there's a another one that came in that is probably likely for you in London Max, which is a lot of retail and restaurants or having difficulty hiring people there is actually a Labor shortage.


01:03:04.620 --> 01:03:15.450

James Sinclair: Do you offer anything explicit to your alumni to accelerate returning, and I think that question is really if I worked with you, before do I do, I have to go through the whole application all over again.


01:03:16.980 --> 01:03:18.540

James Sinclair: that's fair question, so I think it's be Max.


01:03:19.230 --> 01:03:28.260

Max Barnard: So, with the second part of the question now we allow people to have accelerated return, and so, if they're going into a like for like position.


01:03:29.160 --> 01:03:33.210

Max Barnard: I think it's effectively a check in and then there'll be welcome back into the fold.


01:03:33.510 --> 01:03:45.240

Max Barnard: If it's in a different part of the business which we absolutely encourage as well, they may have to go through a process but effectively they've come in with a recommendation start with, so we do hope that we can do that, that sort of relocation and.


01:03:46.170 --> 01:03:52.500

Max Barnard: we're in a really privileged position where when we advertise a role we still get a huge amount of interest.


01:03:53.220 --> 01:04:03.720

Max Barnard: I think that the challenge we get, which is a nice position to be in because we are, I think a magnet for applications at the moment, and there are so many people who are out of work and.


01:04:04.230 --> 01:04:21.810

Max Barnard: it's going through that and finding the best quality, you know who would fit for us, but I think you know our restaurants and kitchens, a starting to open up again now, and it will be interesting to see what it is like once we start to see vacancies in those areas.


01:04:23.280 --> 01:04:27.990

James Sinclair: understood so i'm rolling through these questions, I think one I had a nickel, for you, which is.


01:04:28.200 --> 01:04:35.520

James Sinclair: Do your it to the individual brands you represent do their own hiring or is it all done by global as in I think the question is just to.


01:04:35.730 --> 01:04:41.550

James Sinclair: have multiple alumni networks for each of their brands, or does everyone work for that that one organization.


01:04:41.820 --> 01:04:50.400

James Sinclair: And how do you differentiate people that work for different brands that therefore have different experiences different knowledge different competencies sorry, whoever asked the question, so I modified it slightly.


01:04:50.970 --> 01:04:57.570

Nicola Beck: So it's a good question, so we do operate, and I suppose communicate in terms of an employer brand Ashley group.


01:04:58.020 --> 01:05:04.890

Nicola Beck: So that's here we go out to market with, and then you will work for an individual brand or function, when you come to work, work with us so.


01:05:05.100 --> 01:05:11.910

Nicola Beck: Effectively, you should see a certain harmony throughout the entire group and experience for every brand will have its own DNA at the end.


01:05:12.300 --> 01:05:22.860

Nicola Beck: The alumni is one platform for the entire group, and so they don't do the individual firing me and my team do all the hiring so we do we do do that, across all the brands.


01:05:24.330 --> 01:05:24.840

James Sinclair: amazing.


01:05:26.040 --> 01:05:27.270

Iyad Rahme: linkedin request now.


01:05:31.020 --> 01:05:35.190

James Sinclair: I gotta I gotta I gotta load of people who've actually just done nothing more than that, I got a few.


01:05:35.340 --> 01:05:48.240

James Sinclair: That i'm going to said hey can I have her email address but it's a really interesting opportunity, if you are early in your career this opportunity to travel or this opportunity to get on a plane to go somewhere new to work hard, like that's amazing similar to like.


01:05:48.240 --> 01:05:50.940

James Sinclair: going to work at Harrods that's an amazing experience and I.


01:05:50.940 --> 01:05:57.300

James Sinclair: Think that's where it's not just alumni it's employee customer alumni experience is so critical because.


01:05:57.630 --> 01:06:05.430

James Sinclair: it's life changing you know if your first or second job is at Harrods it can change your life if you decide to fly and take a job at a loop in Dubai.


01:06:05.670 --> 01:06:13.740

James Sinclair: It can change your life, and so I think what i've heard from this call is just being authentic and shouting about it or letting people know and hearing the stories.


01:06:13.950 --> 01:06:21.240

James Sinclair: seems to be both of your strategies, you know essentially authenticity through storytelling is kind of my takeaway from this and.


01:06:22.410 --> 01:06:29.250

James Sinclair: I can't express how thankful, I am to have all three of you on this call to give you insights to give your wisdom to talk about it.


01:06:29.760 --> 01:06:43.410

James Sinclair: To talk about some of these difficult conversations that we've heard so I want to just thank you so much for taking your time to all of our participants thanks for coming in all the questions Thank you so much, but Nicola I had Max Thank you Thank you so much guys, thank you.


01:06:45.480 --> 01:06:47.130

James Sinclair: Perfect have a great day guys.


01:06:47.910 --> 01:06:48.360