Svenia Busson: “Work is transforming: it focuses more and more on the people”

 

 

Svenia Busson is a member of Mangrove, “a global team of people who share the same values and collaborate towards personal growth,” as explains their website. Mangrove vas founded in 2016 to invent a new way to work, based on mutual assistance and freedom. Svenia Busson tells us more.

 

 

What are the origins of Mangrove? What need did it tackle?

We created Mangrove because we couldn’t picture ourselves in any career path that laid ahead of us, who were all graduating from business or engineering schools, be they in corporate companies, in start-ups or in lonely freelance work.

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So we thought of creating our own way to work, which is based on the need to work collectively. We each work on our own missions and jobs -- most of us are freelancers --, but within an ecosystem of people who help each other. Mangrove was founded on three main values that were extremely important to us: benevolence, freedom and transparency. It was fundamental that there be no competition and that we were free to work when and with whom we wanted.

 

What does this way to work look like in real life?

There is not one day similar to the next. We spend a fifth of our time on Mangrove, developing the community, and the rest on our jobs. Actually, our time is divided in three parts: the work for Mangrove, our jobs, and the fun part. Because it’s very important to take time for oneself and to develop.

 

How many are you today?

Mangrove was launched by five guys and I arrived shortly after. At some point we were 120 in the community, but we are now in the middle of rethinking Mangrove and we are only 40 people today. We used to have Mangrove Builders who animated the community and designed products, and Mangrove Friends who shared our values but didn’t do anything. Today we only want people who are extremely committed and ready to give their time, energy and passion. So have let go of Mangrove Friends and encourage the members of the community to get involved.

We are trying to build hubs everywhere in the world to foster concrete connections. For instance, right now, there are five highly motivated people who are launching a hub in Berlin. That being said, a lot of us are digital nomads who travel a lot and are not really based anywhere. But we have a lot of members in Europe and a few in the United States and in Asia.

 

How do you manage to work together?

We created several tools to work efficiently together, but also to feel better. For instance, for our core team, we developed a tool called Rachid that asks us every day how we feel with our work and what we want to share with others. It allows us to know how everyone on the team feels, even if we are not together physically. We can follow everyone’s evolution. We also designed a peer to peer learning tool that is open to the whole community: every month, it asks you about what you want to learn and what you want to teach. Then our algorithm matches people so they can meet and bond. So Mangrove is not just about people having fun! We are builders, we make things. In fact, we have sold Rachid to RTE, a big electricity company, where 100 people use it. It’s beautiful to see that we have created tools that have an impact elsewhere.

On top of that, we organise retreats every three months: we all rent a house together and we spend three weeks there, so we can work on our projects in a different setting. It’s a collective momentum with people who are very motivated and have different skills, so we help each other out. It really is work! It’s a way of life that we enjoy very much and from which we learn a lot. And it makes us three times more efficient.

 

How do you see work evolving, including in more “classic” companies?

Work is transforming: it focuses more and more on the people. There are so many things that the machines will be capable of doing that we kind of have to put back the people at the center of everything. That’s also why benevolence is so important. Change needs to come from the managers who accept to loose their power and their hierarchical position. Managers must guarantee trust so that people dare to innovate and think outside the box. We are very inspired by Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, in which he explains how the managers can change the company culture. This cultural transformation is key.

 

What do you hope for the future of Mangrove and of work?

Actually, our current approach to rethink the whole model of Mangrove is based on the fact that we do not want to focus on the future of work anymore. We want to be an ecosystem of people who are ready to help each other and live collectively. We focus much more on the people, on knowing how others feel. We want to spend more time on the community and do less things outside of it. We will keep developing to facilitate mutual assistance. Our goal is the personal growth of our members. That every person who passes through Mangrove experiences a great development and comes out stronger.

 


 

 

 

Relive her speech at the 11th WFRE on the Collection

 

 

Laïla Mamou : “How can we hope to move forward if we leave 50% of the population behind?”

Laïla Mamou is the Chairman of the board of directors of Wafasalaf, the leader in consumer credit in Morocco. Since taking the position in 2004, she has been working towards greater diversity in her company, at every level. She explains to us why diversity is fundamental to companies and how to help women fulfill their potential.

 

53% female collaborators at Wafasalaf: how did you achieve this result?

It is, quite simply, a part of our HR strategy: I live in a country where 50% of the people are women and if we did not make any difference between a man and a woman in the hiring process, in terms of salary or responsibilities, I am tempted to say that the work would be easy. At Wafasalaf, we did not lead a specific action: when there is a job vacancy, we focus only on the skills and the potential. Thanks to that, we now have 53% female employees and 44% women in the board of directors. Diversity happens at all levels.

 

So how do you help women reach positions of responsibility?

It starts to become more complicated for women when they are between 30 and 35-38 years old, when they have children. It is important to take it into account so that it does not become a hinderance or even a blockage in their career. In these moments, I adapt and accept that a woman has to leave work earlier or come into the office a bit later: it is important to be understanding and not apply the work rules blindly. When I deal with a bright woman with potential who needs to take care of young children (there is no daycare system in Morocco), I do not plan meetings in the evening or team-building events that would require her to leave home for several days. It is intuitive. The counterpart of that is to work on responsibility: when you accept exceptions, you need to be clear so there are no breaches of trust. We encourage seriousness, responsibility and commitment.

Another important lever is to work with men: if men do the hiring, they are also the ones who grant promotions. I have made diversity a lever of performance and I address this topic with all the collaborators. Every year in March we organise conferences on feminine leadership, where I invite inspiring men and women to talk in front of my collaborators and our clients. Sometimes we even reach 60% of men in the audience! We organise this conference ourselves and not through a communications agency. This is important because being actors of the seminary raises awareness among our teams much more than if they were just “consumers”. Each year a different team organises it.

 

And besides, all the studies are very clear: companies that are run by women are performant.

 

How is diversity a lever of performance for companies?

I learned it by doing: we had launched call centers and, as it turned out, I ended up with a platform where there were only men and another where there were only women. And it did not work at all, on both sides the centers of interest were way too similar. So I started to mix them up and I saw immediate results on both sides. Mixity generates a very positive emulation: I have seen and lived it, it is healthy and efficient. I like diversity in a team, and not just in terms of gender. Morocco is a platform that enjoys a favourable geographic position that allows it to increase diversity, including among companies. This mixing in our teams opens them to other cultures, and that can only be enriching. And besides, all the studies are very clear: companies that are run by women are performant.

 

What are the main obstacles that you have faced?

As I was saying, problems generally arise when the children are very young: we campaign for advantages that do not exist yet in Morocco, like daycare or part-time work. Then, I identify three main obstacles.

First, an internal block: some women do not believe in their potential and do not go for it. They consider that it is already almost a privilege to work. As a woman, I went through several situations before I arrived where I am today. And that is exactly why I offer these women to be helped by a coach when I sense that they need to let go of these blocks.

Then, there is a social block: in Morocco, a woman must first be a good mother and a good wife, and the rest comes afterwards. There is a very strong pressure from society and the family.

Finally, very often the wages of the working woman will chiefly be used to make up for her absence in managing the household. As if she had to pay for her right to work. Unfortunately, this pressure leads some of them to abandon their career plans.

 

So there are challenges to overcome at society level?

The constitution is clear: nothing forbids women from taking their place. The article 19 says that “man and woman equally enjoy the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms. (...) The Moroccan state works to achieve parity between men and women.” So we have the legal framework. I have talked a lot about women executives, and it is true that there is a glass ceiling, even though the situation has improved: there were 26% of women in liberal professions and among senior executives in 2005, and 34.8% in 2015. But there is also an “earth floor” in rural areas. In fact, even if education is mandatory, young girls struggle to pursue their education. Marriage oftens comes too early, contributing to that situation. Therefore too many women are not well educated, which is why some companies launch literacy campaigns to give them the means to evolve.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

As far as Wafasalaf is concerned, I would like for it to become a model for all the collaborators so that when they leave Wafasalaf they take with us, almost as a part of their DNA, the values they have contributed to put into place.

Concerning the employment rate for women, it is currently only at 25%. My dream would be for it to reach 50%. Because if we want to sustain growth and reduce unemployment, we need women to contribute, create added value, pay taxes, be economic actors. How can we hope to move forward if we leave 50% of the population behind? My greatest wish would be for the literacy rate of women to reach 100%. Everybody should have access to education, and I am very optimistic since the public authorities are also making it one of their priorities.

 


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Relive her intervention at the 11th WFRE on the Collection

 

Michael Priddis: “We are not going through the end of work, but the beginning of a new era of work.”

Michael Priddis is the founder and CEO of Faethm, a one-year-old Australian company that already operates at international scale.
Faethm’s mission is to work with companies, governments and communities to help them create economic and social value from emerging technologies such as AI and robotics. He tells us how these technologies are opening a new era for work, and how to make sure we won’t leave anyone behind in the transition.


What gap were you looking to fill when you started Faethm?

My background is that I am a product guy. I spent 15 years designing and building tech products and companies, and I have worked at the forefront of technology. Across all those industries and countries, I saw the same pattern: as technology and innovation take hold, companies often need fewer staff. The automation of work was a byproduct of the innovations I was working on. At the end of 2014, while I was a partner at the Boston Consulting Group, I co-led a 9-month research programme with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to look at the effect of technology on jobs in Australia. I then left BCG about a year ago to set up a company that builds analytics using data science to help companies and governments understand the implications of these new technologies.

 

Your star product is called Tandem. Can you explain what it is?

Tandem helps companies and governments look at the effects of technology on any given population (a company, a business unit, a team, a community, a city, an industry, etc.). We gather data about the nature of work and the specifics of an industry, and about when technology will have an effect on it. We then model that in order to provide insights to help companies understand how to transition their workforce, and to help governments make decisions around industry investment, employment policy, immigration, fiscal policy, and so on.

 

So it’s very broad.

Yes it is. We’re going to change the world!

 

What do you bring to companies and governments that they don’t have as an inside resource?

We are building a community of R&D technologists, and I have been fortunate to be able to hire a very capable team. Collectively we span data science, operations, strategy, products, operating models, business models, investment, forecasting, and so on. And we synthetise these different views around the data to provide our partners with helpful insights.

 

What are the socieconomic implications of what you do?

We are not just looking at the effects of technology on companies, but also on communities. Let me use an example with Amelia, a social AI developed by IP Soft: Amelia is designed to replace the first line contact when you call a support center. Most call centers are in small regional cities, which means that the salaries have a strong effect on the local communities. As products like Amelia become more sophisticated, call centers will close down. Which is great for everyone - who likes calling a call centre? - except for the community that hangs off these salaries. I think it would be a very smart idea if the governments involved in running this community could forecast now what the social effects might be. Because we are not just talking about a company transitioning, but about welfare safety nets, relocating people, training and skill development, life-long learning, etc. All these things can be informed if the people who run these organisations have insight about the way in which technology will change work. That is what we are providing.

 

So, does the responsibility of accompanying these social changes fall on governments or companies?

It really depends on the country and the relationship between governments, companies and unions. But I think there is an opportunity for the OECD and the World Economic Forum to provide guidance on the way that these issues will unfold. Let’s take another example: 83.4% of Bangladeshi export GDP comes from readymade garments, and Bangladesh has an outsized dependency on their export GDP. Now, it is still very hard to automate garment making, but a lot of companies  are working on it. And when it becomes cheaper to automate the production of garments at home, Western companies are going to do just that. And that is a problem for developing countries that have zero welfare safety net. There are ripple effects through many parts of society, at international level, which we also try to inform.

 

Is there one project that you are particularly excited by?

We have built  a Future Workforce Index for every single country in the OECD. It shows the effects of technology on the largest industries in these countries. The Index will be used by governments to inform policy about industry investment, employment planning, fiscal planning, and by companies for competitive planning, strategy, transformation and so on.

 

Is there something that you dream of working on?

Today, there is a lot of discussion around the universal basic income, based on the idea that there will not be enough jobs. I do not share that view. We are not going through the end of work, but the beginning of a new era of work. I often say that computers are good at the jobs we find hard and bad at the jobs we find easy. So we need to talk about the three “A”s together: there’s automation, but there’s also the augmentation of existing jobs and the addition of new jobs. So what I would like to have achieved at the end of this work, is to help countries understand what the opportunities are for people. Our goal is not to replace work with universal basic income. It is to help people, through education and skill development, to embrace new types of work.

 

What is your hope for the future of Faethm and the future of work?

My hope is that Tandem becomes the global standard that every single company and government uses for insight and data about the future of work. My personal goal is that people are able to access education and learning that help them transition from the jobs they do today to jobs that allow companies, communities and people to be happy.

 


Meet Michael Priddis during the 11th edition of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy


More than a 100 experts from around the world will take part in the WFRE from 17 to 19 October to discuss the technological, societal and economic upheavals of our time and present their reflections and good practices.

SAVE THE DATE  17 - 19 October 2017 in Lille

Prabashni Naicker: “Ethical business is actually sustainable business”

Prabashni Naicker is Regional Compliance Officer at SNC-Lavalin, one of the biggest engineering and construction services company in the world. She is based in South Africa and works all over Subsaharan Africa to promote ethical business and fight corruption and bribery. We have asked her a few questions about how to keep business clean.

 

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Can you explain exactly what you do at SNC-Lavalin?

I look after two portfolios. The first one is that I am in charge of human resources, and as such I get to have a visibility on ethics related to HR. Our mission there is to look at how we ensure an ethical workplace, which involves ensuring fairness in the recruiting of people, that everyone has the same benefits, that there is no discrimination of any sort. My other hat is that I am in charge of the Ethics and Compliance Program for Subsaharan Africa.

 

What does this program consist of?

One of the things that we do that is most relevant is an initiative called the Coalition for Ethical Operations, which we started in February 2016. The principle is to get companies who operate in Subsaharan Africa and who believe in the same philosophy as we do to come together to improve anti-corruption activities. We send them a pledge for them to sign, in which they commit to share best practices in promoting ethical business and reducing corruption; to promote training on ethical business and anti-corruption for SMEs in their supply chain; and to engage in occasional and voluntary collective or collaborative action. There are now fifteen members in the Coalition.

the biggest challenge: how do you do clean business and make it known to everybody? We want to win our work based on our ability to deliver, and we want people to know that.


What is the main form of corruption that you are faced with?

In Subsaharan Africa, the biggest challenge is government allocated work. There is this perception that the only way to get work from the governments is to pay bribes. In South Africa specifically it is now a very topical issue, as there are many examples of senior government officials being accused of participating in corrupt deals with private companies. For companies, that is the biggest challenge: how do you do clean business and make it known to everybody? We want to win our work based on our ability to deliver, and we want people to know that. Another challenge is that while bigger companies have the resources to implement compliance programs, small businesses cannot always do that. One of the things that passionate me most about this work is to bring multinational companies together to help smaller organisations stay in ethical business. We are currently looking at organising an event in November with the African Development Bank and the World Bank, which will focus on small businesses and sharing lessons learned in compliance.
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What are the things that you do to tackle corruption?

One of the first steps is for companies to come together and hold each other responsible, through signing the pledge and sharing their practices. At our November event, companies will talk about  how it works for them and help each other do more. We are also developing a training program with the Ethics institute that we will make available to small businesses, including company suppliers.

 

What are the next steps for the Ethics and Compliance Program?

The idea is to grow it across the region. We are now setting up a chapter in Angola with our local partner, Grupo Mieres, who is now contacting companies to join the Coalition. Our goal is to grow it across all different countries: at this point it is monitored from South Africa but we want to scale it as far and wide as we can.

ethical business is actually sustainable business

What is the main challenge you would say you have to face?

It is getting people to understand that ethical business is actually sustainable business. It can absolutely be a competitive advantage to help you grow, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your activity.

 

 


 

Meet Prabashni Naicker during the 11th edition of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy


More than a 100 experts from around the world will take part in the WFRE from 17 to 19 October to discuss the technological, societal and economic upheavals of our time and present their reflections and good practices.

SAVE THE DATE  17 - 19 October 2017 in Lille

« Our goal is to have an impact on education, empowerment, technology and entrepreneurship »

Luvuyo Rani is the co-founder and director of South African company Silulo Ulutho Technologies. What started out as a computer repair service and an Internet café twelve years ago now provides computer training to 4000 people a year in the country’s townships. We’ve talked with Luvuyo Rani about education, empowerment and the potential of technology.

 

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Brianna McGuire: “A lot of the issues related to food waste can be solved or ameliorated with technology”

 

Brianna McGuire is the founder and CEO of Foodfully, an app that helps people reduce their food waste by tracking the expiration dates and proposing recipes for items that are about to spoil. Brianna is on a mission to eliminate food waste from American households; she shares her thoughts and expertise on how technology can help achieve this goal.

 

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