Barbara Hösli is Odlo's HR Director since November 2012. During the last 4 years, She has seen a lot of changes at HQ, witnessing Odlo becoming more international, shaping up as a global brand. Last week, after welcoming Monish Pahwa, Senior Sourcing Manager, our first employee born and bred in India, she took the time to explain the changes at Odlo's HQ.
When you joined Odlo in 2012, the company’s HQ was not that international. Is that right?
When I arrived, Odlo’s HQ was very national in a way. The company’s language was obviously German. Only one single employee did not speak German at the time. Today, the picture is completely different. The main language spoken at our HQ is English. Our recruitment was also Swiss-centered, while now we are hiring on an international scale.
How important is this internal development for a sports brand?
It is very important. With different cultures and backgrounds, together we can also understand different business scenarios. Our new employees also understand the markets where we want to develop the brand. Know-how is becoming international and, for a global brand, this is a priority. Also, this allows us to hire people from international firms. In Switzerland, the number of companies that we could hire someone from for our needs was limited.
Were these changes easy to accept by employees? And to mix with Swiss culture?
In terms of internal organization… I have to admit that some were very receptive and positive towards the development, and others were skeptical. And it was difficult for a few others to stay at Odlo because of language skills. As mentioned, HQ went from German-speaking to English-speaking. I will also add that the profiles that we are looking for have changed in the past years. In 2012, for instance, we were working with external designs studios. Today, we are proud to have these skills internally, but finding the right designers in Switzerland was not that easy. Most design schools are abroad, in Milan, London, Paris, in Germany… This also forced us to have an international recruitment.
And how is your own job evolving?
My day-to-day also switched to English. But the biggest change was how we hire the right people for the right positions. The traditional way was publishing a job ad, explaining the opened position, receiving resumes and then making a selection. Now, we make way more use of the possibilities offered by internet. We have to be more proactive and embrace “active sourcing”. This means using social media to spot the best potential candidates in order to already have a clear idea of who to contact when a position opens up.
Each employee also has his or her own professional network and this helps a lot. Last but not least, our CEO, Christophe Bézu and other managers gave a lot of corporate interviews and, as a result, interest for the brand and the company behind it increased significantly.
Odlo is based in Hünenberg. So what makes people leave Milan, London or Paris for Kanton Zug?
The standard of living and the quality of life between Luzern and Zürich are highly appreciated. Our employees obviously love sports too, and the lake and mountains make quite the perfect playground. Kanton Zug is working closely with all companies to understand their needs and help them. For instance, some of their representatives pay us a visit twice a year and take note of our feedback regarding administration for foreigners, public transportation… And with low taxes, the region is becoming increasingly international: you can find an international school just a few steps from Odlo's HQ.