Aug 23rd 2021 | E066 Career Development Strategies E066 The Job Market of Today, The Job Market of Tomorrow: A Panel Discussion

In this panel, we discussed the current state of affairs in the today’s job market, including:

+ How did the expectations of the employees towards their employers and working environments change in the last few years?
+ How to build trust as a company? How to attract and nourish talent?
+ The Great Reset: are the conspiracy theories true?
+ What does loyalty mean today?

Our distinguished guests are as follows:

⭐ Maura Leclercq-Mîndrilà:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mauramindrila/
Clubhouse: @mauradeclercq
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MauraDeclercq

⭐ Thomas Hubbuch:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-hubbuch-82a31a88/
Clubhouse: @thomashubbuch
Twitter: https://twitter.com/THubbuch

⭐ Hans Constandt:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hansconstandt/
Clubhouse: @hconstandt
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hconstandt

The episode was recorded on August 20th, 2021. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the views of their current or former employer(s). 

Natalia Bielczyk 00:00 Hello everyone, this is yet another episode of Career Talks. And in this special episode, we have a panel discussion about the current state of affairs in the job market and about the future of the job market. Today we have three distinguished guests. Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà, Thomas Hubbuch and Hans Constandt. Please stay tuned and enjoy learning about their career advancement.

Natalia Bielczyk 00:35 Firstly, I’d like to ask the guests to introduce themselves. Maura, could you please start?

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 00:43 Of course, thank you so much for having us here. Looking forward to the discussion. My name is Maura. I’m the founder and managing partner at STAFF Europe Recruitment and Consulting. STAFF is an international boutique search and selection agency. And we specialize in executive search, and the search of senior tech profiles within the European STEM industries. And we started working on the American markets as well, since not so long ago. We help companies grow and scale Europe-wide, and now also in the States.

Natalia Bielczyk 01:19 Perfect, Hans.

Hans Constandt 01:21 Hello, I’m Hans Constandt. I live in Belgium, happy dad, three kids. I have a background in corporates and startups. I’m a data geek and been a founding CEO, with ONTOFORCE. I’m not an expert by far, so I’m going to make a note here. I’m just a passionate entrepreneur in digital health.

Natalia Bielczyk 01:43 Perfect. And Thomas.

Thomas Hubbuch 01:45 I’m Thomas and I live partly in Belgium, as Hans. And I’m suffering under the temperatures at this very moment because I just returned from Spain 1 day ago, I still have to adapt. Despite all that, I used to be the CEO 15 years ago, of a sugar company with around 1000 people. And I did something out of gut feeling when I was CEO, which I call today, unbossing. And unbossing is also my passion today, which I do together with my partners in the consulting firm, Hifluence.

Thomas Hubbuch 02:26 And I’m an expert in unbossing and that means I’m an expert in working environments, which people like today. And I’m an expert, unfortunately also in working environments, which people do not like at all anymore today.

Natalia Bielczyk 02:43 Thank you, Thomas for sharing. And I think this is a good occasion to start the discussion about working environments today. In your opinion, how did the expectations of today’s employees towards the working environments and working conditions changed compared to five years ago?

Thomas Hubbuch 03:01 This is a wonderful question. And the difference is that the old world, the traditional world, is organized in what we call command & control. And command & control means that the employees are not only being told what to do exactly, but even worse, they are being told how to do it exactly. I think everybody of us knows the famous job descriptions.

Thomas Hubbuch 03:33 I admit here, I used to write job descriptions even myself. And it is something which I would say, my generation still accepted at least in the first years of their careers. And what I see today’s generation of talents, not accepting any more adult. in other words, even if you are a company with a flashy brand name, with tremendous consumer recognition and you are still organized in command and control, you will have a problem staying relevant in 5-10 years into the future.

Thomas Hubbuch 04:19 Because you will not be able to attract and keep the talent you need. And that is exactly also the reason why these rather traditional companies are coming to us for unbossing journeys. That is where the pressure is coming from. That is where they see for the first time, we cannot go ahead like that anymore.

Natalia Bielczyk 04:43 Thank you so much. And if I could add to this. I think that today’s skillful management, indeed this is crucial, and we have so many different types of management popular today. And for instance, the servant style of management represented, for instance, by Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba Group.

Natalia Bielczyk 05:04 And also, Google’s history, I think is a good example that giving employees free-hand and room for creativity pays off both for the employees and for the company itself. As Google is dogmatic about giving their engineers 20% of the time for developing their own projects under the umbrella of the company. And that proved to be an amazing way to stimulate creativity within the company. Maura, would you like to contribute to this topic?

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 05:36 Absolutely. Where to begin? I have a ton of things to add to that. But I totally agree with what Thomas has said, and we are coming from this … Let me contextualize a bit. I love contextualizing. we are coming from Taylorism. Basically, this control and command system that Thomas has just mentioned. And we took this historical direction, since this Industrial Revolution, from this decentralized control system to having a system where technology became an enabler and a disrupter.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 06:20 And if you look at the history of mankind, a large part of it, and the acceleration and the progress that have been made lately, have been due to technology. There are a lot of implications of this. The old ways of working, obviously, don’t translate anymore in this new online post-pandemic environment. I always like to give me an example of, you know, theater versus cinema.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 06:53 When the medium of cinema has been invented, we started by applying these old theater techniques to it. And very quickly, we find out that cinema was a medium of its own, it needed its own techniques and systems to properly function and work. And this is what is happening nowadays, and it’s a beautiful evolution.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 07:14 Because a lot of people, you know, are talking about “old ways” of working, are going back to the situation, pre-pandemic. I don’t think this is going to happen ever, because we live in a different world, literally. We are seeing a lot of asynchronous working; people need a lot more writing skill. Since you know the presential meetings are becoming less and less.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 07:41 You need very strong communication skills specifically in writing, that becomes more and more important. I would say, you know, we reduced meetings a lot, I feel. Even if at the beginning, we tried to have all of these board meetings and all of these dreadful long corporate meetings We tried to transmute them in a lot of Zoom meetings. I feel we’re stepping more and more away from this nowadays.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 08:13 I think we see more efficiency. We also see more technological tools empowering this remote working situation, which is a good thing. And to answer your question. What people expect nowadays, I think, is radical transparency, trust, collaboration. People need to be empowered to feel that leaders within the companies are empowering them, are giving them enough autonomy to still be productive.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 08:47 Because if we look at the productivity numbers, they have not fallen at all. On the contrary, it’s not because you let somebody work remotely and you know, you have them coming into the office 1 or 2 days that the productivity drops. It’s important to have a strong purpose as a company and to align your employees behind it, you know, giving them a sense of being part of the team. I think collaboration is becoming very, very important.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 09:17 Because the way I see it is, we are going away from these typical hierarchical structures. We’re going away from these old ways of working, and we will see a lot more project teams being put in place. I don’t believe it functions anymore. I think, where we used to be put in a box with Taylorism, where literally everyone was an operator of a machine or had one specific task to perform.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 09:46 Nowadays, we look at a range of skills and talents and passion within people. And how these talents and passions, can fit together in project teams. I really believe we are moving to these project teams, lean-agile. And I can go on and on, but I’m going to stop here.

Thomas Hubbuch 10:03 Maura, of course, I have something to add. This is a novel historical moment. Because for the first time in my life, I hear this comparison of yours of the transition from theater to cinema, into the new world. And how you describe that within the New World. The technical capabilities of the cinema, they still applied, and I guess they did that for years. They still applied the rules of the old world of the theater.

Thomas Hubbuch 10:40 They said, ‘Oh, listen, guys, we have now this wonderful new technical environment. It’s called cinema’. But we use it like we did our theaters for many, many years, and how we are used to it. And this is exactly … I love it. Because this is exactly what is happening. A whole generation of managers of CEOs of boards of directors who grew up and were successful in Taylorism.

Thomas Hubbuch 11:13 They were successful in command & control in stable markets, you know. Every now and then a new product, you know, an even better Mercedes S-Class even better than the old one, that was innovation for them. That’s what they call the innovation. And this is a wonderful comparison. And I love it. And I have it already now in my head, and I will use it 100 times. And I will always mention you. The transition from theater to cinema. I love it. Thank you.

Hans Constandt 11:46 A lot has been said right. I think Thomas and Maura already said a lot. I think also transparency is key. Trust is key. Flat themes are key. From my background, I was lucky. I’ve lived pretty globally. I worked three years in the university, two years as a consultant, 10 years in a corporate and then a startup. I’ve seen quite a bit. I was very happy, in fact, to work at Eli Lilly.

Hans Constandt 12:14 I think some companies are better than others in stimulating talent. And that’s the point is, how do you attract talent? How do you stimulate talent? And how do you incentivize talent? And definitely Thomas, un bossing is key. That’s one thing. Of course, it’s very different than a corporate of 30,000 people than in a startup; where you start with two, three passionate people by this definition and then you grow it. But what I learned is, even at Eli Lilly, when I work there, they stimulated intrapreneurship.

Hans Constandt 12:48 You were able, with flats, and small teams to work and to be agile. And I think you also see the winners. I think one of the great examples right now in big corporates is to my opinion, how the CEO of Novartis is leading the company, riding fast. He’s doing a great job at that. And in fact, this morning, there was a LinkedIn post from an HR person, all of you should read from Nazim Ünlu. He’s talking about the data42 project, and I don’t have any shares or any connections with it. I just love what they do.

Hans Constandt 13:16 But look at what these guys are doing and how they’re picking it up in a corporate; and it’s all about unbossing. It’s all about talent. It’s all about stimulating people. It’s all about transparency. And so, to come back to that, of course, if you’re the founding CEO of a company, you can do a lot. And it’s even better than the big companies. It’s a system. It’s like a big boat. And I I used to call them Titanic, but I don’t do because the Titanic sank, so that’s a bad example.

Hans Constandt 13:43 But you know, if you want to turn the Titanic, and you know you have to turn, it’s still difficult to turn. And so, what I learned is not to fight the system. It’s nice to say unbossing, it’s nice to say we have the old management, but transitioning won’t happen in one day. You need time. And so what I learned is, of course, I see the startups and the entrepreneurs in the innovators like being the zodiacs on the side of it. These guys should be on from there looking, there’s an iceberg deck, and then you can move.

Hans Constandt 14:12 But don’t stay in your boat and don’t attract these talents to do things. I like that a lot. And in my company, you know, and now I’m still a board member but I’m operationally out of the company ONTOFORCE. but great company, of course. there when I hired people, it was all about passion. And I made a lot of mistakes. I’m by far an expert in HR, so I made a lot of mistakes there. But for me, you have trust and you can only lose it. That’s a starting point.

Hans Constandt 14:40 And I look for passion. I look for people who are honest. You know, when I hired if the person was 60 years old, or if the person was eating, I didn’t care. It was not about your PhD or you’re not. It’s about who is the best person for the job and align on that, and be an open team and talk about that. And then things start to really work well. When things start to turn bad is, I think where I see in companies also in startups, when typically, you have an incoming CEOs or you have people coming in, who are kind of the old school. And they say, ‘We come from corporate. We need to scale up.’, and then they come in with their IDs.

Hans Constandt 15:19 We’re lucky now to have good people. I see in some startups and also in corporates, is, when you have that command & control and it’s kind of my way or the highway, and there’s one way communication, they fail miserably. Because the team is not motivated. The talents go away. And there’s an expression in French, I’m trying to say it. But it’s an expression about people who are disgusted. (15:43 – French expression).

Hans Constandt 15:49 And you have to be very careful that you keep your talents close to you, and that you’re able to attract talents. And please motivate these people. And they don’t stay for a salary. Of course, the salary has to be right. They stay for a vision. They stay for a passion and personal development. They stay for something they believe in; the why and the purpose. And what I sensed, and at least an experience I can share is.

Hans Constandt 16:13 We at ONTOFORCE, WERE extremely good to attract talent, because we had a why, we have the purpose. People who join us has said, ‘This is great, this is something I want to work for’. And they could have a job anywhere but they choose us, because we had this purpose. Because we really wanted to help patients with data. And if you live that and you believe that then you’re authentic as a leader, you’re inspiring, then you hire people.

Hans Constandt 16:34 And I told them, I was not the best developer. I have been a developer. But if I have to bring coffee or wine gums or M&Ms, to get the deadlines, I’ll do that. I don’t care. And I was a CEO but I said, you know, ‘Chief everything officer, so let me know how I can help you’. That’s what a manager should do is remove the barriers of your good people so that they can do their job as best as possible.

Natalia Bielczyk 16:54 And relating to this point, I’d like to add that today, it also happens more and more often that CEOs of companies also come to the stage. They are not only ‘behind the curtains’ anymore, but also come to the stage show their faces. I see more and more often that they start their own YouTube channels, and speak about the mission speak about the inner workings of the company in front of the cameras to share with their leads with the potential clients.

Natalia Bielczyk 17:29 But that also attracts talent, that also attracts good employees. And I have to say it works for me too. I was contacted by many talented subcontractors who noticed me online and notice what I do. They enjoyed seeing what I saw and they contacted me asking for possibilities to collaborate. I think building a brand, by showing your face and talking about what you do openly and being transparent really works well both for the sales, but also for attracting talent.

Natalia Bielczyk 18:05 And second thing I’d like to mention is that today is especially after the pandemic, employees are no longer expect to work in the office. And the most preferred model is the hybrid model in which you can flexibly change between working in the office and working at home. And even the companies well-known for their attempts to always bring teams physically together, such as Google, started to change their practices.

Natalia Bielczyk 18:32 Starting from October this year, for instance, Google Warsaw will switch the default mode of working from on-site work to more flexible working schemes. And this is absolutely necessary for them to attract the best engineers in the job market. Again, because the expectations have changed so much in the recent years.

Hans Constandt 18:56 I think you’re mentioning two things, but I want to add a nuance. This is something I struggled a lot with. You know as a founding CEO, when you have a good story, when everything is going great, your fundraising, you have great customers, people are excited you get on panels, you get keynotes. It’s kind of fun and frequent. Because there’s this thing that people also sometimes called the imposter syndrome.

Hans Constandt 19:21 I don’t want to be in the spotlights. Honestly, I don’t even like to be in the spotlight. You know, when I have the biggest fulfillment is when a teammate is in the spotlights. And everybody applauds him or her, that’s where I get fulfillment. But of course, you’re kind of the face of the company. The nuance I want to bring about these YouTube channels. I don’t like too much, … Might be too provocative here. You can cut it off later if you want to Natalia

Hans Constandt 19:49 But I don’t like people to have YouTube channels. I’d like stories to have YouTube channels. I’d like values to have YouTube channels. Also, first, it was company first. I said, ‘If ego kicks in, you’re out’. It’s not about ego. But that also comes from myself, it comes from everyone. Company first, absolutely. And that’s the authenticity you need to bring. I would say yes. And yes, I see it because people say, ‘But Hans, you give keynotes and you kind of like it’. My wife will say, ‘I don’t believe you, that you don’t like to give keynotes’. And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m nervous. And honestly, I don’t like it. And I don’t like to stand in front of a lot of people and talk.’

Hans Constandt 20:27 But when you look at me, I am because I’m passionate. I believe in what I do. I want to do something different for the world, I want to help the world. And you know why I like, keynotes? When in the front rows or later on, somebody comes to me with sparks in their eyes and say, ‘That you inspire me, I’m going to be an entrepreneur, and can you help me with this?’ That’s why you do it. It’s to inspire people. It’s to really see that energy flows and it’s a positive energy and you help people.

Hans Constandt 20:50 With that said, I think, in Flanders/Belgium, we have some great stories. Look up what Collibra has doing. Collibra started with three founders, Felix Van De Maele, Stijn Christiaens and Peter De Leenheer. You run up into these guys, they’re normal guys. They’re not classy, they’re open. You can talk to –

Thomas Hubbuch 21:11 Did you mention a female name there? Or are we talking about only males?

Hans Constandt 21:17 These are three males. Sorry. I don’t think yet but there are some good females. Like Gwendoline and then there’s all this. But at this point, look at Collibra, they’re unicorn, of course. They get all the attention. Although was in the news some time ago, they got all the attention, which is normal. But look at this guy. He was just there. He’s open. He talks when you sit; when you meet him. It’s not a Michelin star, which was kind of more and a fancy wine.

Hans Constandt 21:43 You know, it’s a McDonald’s. It’s a pizza. It’s a baguette, so be normal, act normal. And that’s what I like about people staying humble. Believing in what you do and inspiring people. Look at what Zhong is doing. Zhong, he started … I know the guy. I first met him, and Zhong will forgive me if I say so. And he was sitting there and coding. He was like the geeky guy. But now this guy is doing delivery, he will have the next unicorn.

Hans Constandt 22:09 And he talked to me about HR, he’s much better than I am. And he said, ‘You know, now …’, and this is maybe a good bridge to the second part of how are people going to work as hybrid or not. And he said, ‘Hans, I don’t hire my team local anymore. You know, my VP of sales is in Dublin, my VP of engineering is in Lisbon. And then I have two people in Berlin, because now with Corona everybody’s used to it’.

Hans Constandt 22:33 And he said, ‘You know what it is?’, and I strongly believe in that, too. I worked at Eli Lilly and it was also global. And when you have like, a Chinese guy, when you have a German guy, UK guy, a Spanish guy, and then two us guys, you know. That’s a meld coast. How do you say that in German? But bringing all of these insights together. And I’m born in Africa. You know, I’m a white African.

Hans Constandt 22:57 I’m a positive, I’m enthusiastic, I believe in the world. But when you bring these attitudes together, it’s so much better than when you have all the same cultures in the same way. And that’s what Zhong is also doing with Deliverect. And I think that’s the new way of working. The world is flat, Thomas Friedman said a long time ago, ‘The world is flat. It’s over’.

Hans Constandt 23:17 Connect with each other. And I hope soon that we will be able to travel because I still like the face to face, I miss that a lot. But you can do a lot. And I think teams are flat, the world is flat, you can hire from everywhere. Be a little bit afraid, of course. If you’re 9 hours away, it’s more difficult. Of course, but still people do it. It’s a new way of working that’s coming for sure.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 23:37 Add a little nuance to that just a second, Natalia, I’ll be very brief. I partially… I agree with most of what you said Hans, except the part where you don’t like that people have their own YouTube channels. And I understand why you said it. And I understand your point. However, people work with people and authenticity and human skills become more and more important. So yes, you can inspire from the story of a company, from the purpose and the vision of a company.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 24:12 But you can also inspire from your own geekiness or your own personality, you know. I think human skills will grow in importance exponentially in the future. Since we live in this high-tech world where, you know, most repetitive things that humans do can be automated and will be automated, I hope in the future. A lot of them already are.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 24:39 And I think companies have to maintain this very strong personal relationship with their customers, but also with their employees. And they do that through you know, with the people; it’s people working with people. In this sense, I feel it doesn’t matter if you have a YouTube channel in your own name or it’s in the name of the company. It’s just a little bit I wanted to say.

Thomas Hubbuch 25:02 Just a second Hans. Because Maura, I also wanted to chime in exactly on that. And Hans, it’s fascinating, because you mentioned Vas the CEO of Novartis. And now I have a question. Who do you think has more followers on LinkedIn? The Novartis company channel, or Vas?

Hans Constandt 25:24 Good point, I’m not going to ask them because I don’t know.

Thomas Hubbuch 25:30 Han’s, people want to follow people. People do not want to follow any more company accounts. People want to be connected with people. And if you see, for example, in the old world, this is was the world of press releases. Who reads press releases? I haven’t read a press release in the last five years. And I’m a rather interested person.

Thomas Hubbuch 26:00 People want to see and feel and connect with other people. That’s exactly what was laying on my tongue, Maura said it. And there was this other part. You were talking about this, mainly startup world, which is a wonderful thing. And I am based in this traditional world, where they have a huge problem Hans. Because they all say, ‘This is fantastic’, what you’re saying Hans.

Thomas Hubbuch 26:30 And by the way, our HR department did a promotion campaign on the new way of working, and we have posters hanging everywhere in every meeting room. We even renamed our meeting rooms with fancy new names. And what is missing? It’s authenticity. And there, I contacted Maura because, Maura, we already had a dialogue on that. The worst thing in command and control is when you are creating a fake new world with a startup vibe, environment. And the people detected after, at least two weeks. And that is the worst thing that you can do. That’s my opinion.

Hans Constandt 27:12 And I understand the nuance. The problem, probably that I have, personally is ego is outright. When it’s authentic, it’s passes and it’s great. I fully agree like Vas. And you also have like these keynote speakers where you say, ‘Well, this is amazing’. Indeed, the YouTube channels that should stay and it’s people. What I would like to say is that sometimes there’s too many people that get on stage and not be authentic. But anyhow, so let’s not go deeper than that. I understand the nuance and I agree of that. Definitely with these people, but careful. And don’t do it for yourself, do it for what you believe. Maybe that’s the right point.

Thomas Hubbuch 27:52 And I wanted to ask again, Maura on this authenticity topic.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 28:01 Yeah, sorry. What was your question?

Thomas Hubbuch 28:04 The famous corporate HR department, which says, ‘We have taken in all the insights for Maura. And now we have done a new-new work poster campaign. And now suddenly, we are hip, please come to us. But in reality, we are still command & control.’

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 28:28 I mean, we see that happening a lot and not only with regards to this topic. But also, if you talk about inclusivity you know, everything that is hot right now; sustainability. I feel a lot of companies pay lip service, or they have this little layer of varnish added, but in the end, they still have these older structures in place.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 28:52 But I mean, this is going to lead to a whole other discussion. I think we are already seeing two different labor markets going on. You have the ones who did completely enter the era of cinema, to stay with my analogy. And you have those who are still, you know, applying the theater techniques to cinema. But this will lead us to a whole other discussion, and I’m going to let you lead the discussion that Natalia. I don’t know if you want to go there.

Natalia Bielczyk 29:23 Thank you for your remark Maura. I feel there’s too many companies living in the old era, for instance, manufacturing companies. About YouTube, I feel that YouTube’s primary goal is education after all. Regardless, if you’re a company or if you’re an individual, you will not attract followers if you don’t have content. Content is the King. It doesn’t really matter if you represent the company. Because the followers, they come back to get more content and more valuable information from you after all.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 29:58 I am so triggered by what you just said right now. Because education, I would love to do a whole podcast on this, I think it’s the key. There lies the key to a lot of solutions for the problem we face now and we will face in the future. And you know, the educational system … If we would all take a good look at it and give good thoughts on it, and really see what we can change there. And with little tweaks here and there, we could achieve so much more. I think this is so important. But okay, I don’t want to hijack the discussion. But education is super important.

Natalia Bielczyk 30:39 I fully agree what you said about the multicultural teams. Funny enough, academia that is still seen as the ivory tower and the most conservative working environment out there, is surprisingly progressive when it comes to multicultural teams. This is the default for us. Since the beginning of time, academics were traveling around and the academic community was always Multikulti. That’s also something I always tell the participants of my courses to be proud because this is not a default. Not everyone has that international experience.

Natalia Bielczyk 31:18 If you have that experience and you’re skilled in communicating on multiple levels with professionals from multiple cultures, you should say it. You should also say that the interview. And this is something that is so obvious to us that we often overlook this clear advantage that we have. And now I would like to change the topic a little bit and touch on some controversial subject. Namely, the elephant in the room, the Great Reset.

Natalia Bielczyk 31:54 Since a few months, there was a heated debate on the media about what the Great Reset means. And what we might expect to come in the next few months. I would like to know what your opinion on the subject is. And what do you think is the vision behind the Great Reset and what we can expect in the next few years?

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 32:20 Hot topic indeed. The World Economic Forum, I think they had these meetings. They had what? 15 meetings so far and the latest, you know, they titled The Great Reset. This is not a new idea. This is something I’ve heard before, many times in many different contexts. You know, I always ask myself when an idea is launched, ‘What is the agenda behind it?’

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 32:59 We all have our own agendas. We all, you know, have plans. We have different visions. It’s always interesting to to ask yourself, ‘What is behind it?’ I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, loud and clear, I’m not going there. There is you know, there is the fact. The fact is that we are in a system that is in decline, you know. If you look at … I am a system thinker. If you look at any system, you have this typical evolution of systems.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 33:33 You have, you know, the rise. You have a plateau phase. You have a crumble. You have revolutions in there. You have some kind of decline of the system. We are clearly facing a decline in the system. We are facing huge issues as a society, economically, ecologically, on many aspects. This nobody denies, I think, I hope.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 33:58 However, there are several ideas on how to tackle this. And maybe my personal opinion will also raise a bit of controversy on this. I need to be careful what I say here. But I am not sure if governments who are sometimes failing at doing or at performing their tasks, shouldn’t be the ones coming up with these initiatives; and shouldn’t be the ones launching, you know, alternative systems.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 34:32 Because in the end, look at the agenda of a dying system. The agenda of any dying organism is to try to stay alive somehow. You know, I have questions on whether the way this is launched, the people who have launched it are the right ones to lead this revolution; this disruption. However, I do believe a disruption is needed. I have a lot of ideas on it. But I don’t want to derail the conversation. I think it should come from the industry. And I think it should come from bottom up, not top down. That’s all I have to say on this topic.

Natalia Bielczyk 35:15 And maybe in this place, I should make some little explanation as I had not introduced the subject before. During this year’s conference in Davos, in January. There was a video campaign released by the World Economic Forum. It was just sandwiched between other messages and other statements related more to ecology and climate.

Natalia Bielczyk 35:42 There was one warning statement about private property or the vision of abolishing private property. And the statement was, ‘You won’t own anything, you will be happy’. And the public opinion was shocked because of that sentence, and that was the genesis of all the conspiracy theories. I can only say that, as a mathematician, I see the job market as a dynamical system.

Natalia Bielczyk 36:12 And I know that capitalism inherently is unstable. Because the wealthy will always get wealthier, and the poor will get poorer. And this is something you cannot really change in the job market with a more efficient tax system. Because with two mechanisms such as, amortization and tax avoidance, which are fully legal. There is always a way for the wealthiest to legally lower the taxes. There is no way of adjusting the system so that it becomes stable, other than radical changing the rules that governed the economy.

Natalia Bielczyk 36:50 But how the Great Reset might pan out in reality, I have absolutely no idea. And Hans, would you like to take a stand on this topic?

Hans Constandt 36:59 Absolutely. And you see me smiling. Because there’s so many thoughts running through my head now. And I’m the chaotic guy, I need to structure my thinking, so that’s tough. First of all, I’m also not a fan of conspiracy theories. Secondly, let me put something that you might have to cut out. We’ll have to see. But I think if you look at the world leaders, and what’s happening nowadays in Afghanistan.

Hans Constandt 37:22 The people who said you need to withdraw, are now saying, ‘Yeah, why did you withdrew?’ I think there’s an ultimate lack of leadership at the political societal level, at a global scale. Sorry to say, so. That’s that, you can change that. And I am never going to go in politics. I maybe whisper into politicians’ ears and the hope they pick it up, but that’s it.

Hans Constandt 37:50 The reset also, I think, Davos, it’s kind of cool. You know, we’ll see. It’s kind of nice to put these kind of nice fancy words out there. But for me, it’s about if it stays with words, and a conference with high-level people and princes and economists and high politicians, and nothing happens, then nothing happens. Move your actions where your words are and be consistent, please.

Hans Constandt 38:19 And if you make a mistake, then don’t turn around … And you see it with all the politicians. Not all, most of the politicians. That’s one. Secondly, you come back to the wealthy get wealthier. Of course, this is part of the truth there. But what I do believe is if you work hard, you can earn hard. What I really don’t like is people who are not willing to work hard, and I respect them. I don’t have an issue with that.

Hans Constandt 38:46 But then they also don’t need to shout for a lot of money. Sorry to say so. And if people work hard, and they take risk like an entrepreneur, you take a lot of risks. Trust me. It weighs on my wife; it weighs on my family. I didn’t have a salary for two years, who’s going to join me? Very few people. You’re willing to give up your house to get your mission going.

Hans Constandt 39:12 My point is put things in balance. That’s one thing. Secondly, I think all of us interested in the subject of this wealthy get wealthier and how will the future look like. Please, I’m a huge fan of Jeremy Rifkin. And so, he’s written some really cool books about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But please have a look at his book and read it about the zero-cost economy. I strongly believe in that.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 39:39 I think the question needs to be answered in a bit of a broader perspective. And I completely agree with every word, almost, Hans has said right now. I think one of the biggest questions we will face in the future is not necessarily an existential threat, not even a black swan. As Described by Nassim Taleb.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 40:01 But the threat of a machine. The threat of technology of a machine that might become malevolent and that will know you better than you know yourself. I mean, even the simple AI, that we have nowadays, know more about ourselves and own more data than sometimes we know, or we remember. I think the basic principles of democracy in the free market, they won’t work anymore in this new world in this high-tech world.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 40:36 Again, technology plays a very important role. Because, for example, what would be the point of voting, if the machine already knows how you’re going to vote and can manipulate you. We’re almost facing a war on manipulation and data is just a little part in that. You know, what would be the solution?

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 40:58 Technology, in essence, it’s amoral. It’s neutral. And luckily, there is something cyclical going on in the world. And I strongly believe in these Hegelian dialectics, you know. I feel a counter movement will come or is already on the way and this balance will be restored in the end. But if you look at, for instance, AI tools because I gave that as an example.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 41:25 Now they are created to monitor mostly activity of individuals or companies. But, you know, imagine the counter movements to that. We can point the guns back. And we could also easily create, and they are being created right now, AI tools to monitor the activity of governments of, you know, banks of systems, bigger systems.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 41:51 And voters could in the future, evaluate if a politician or a government serves them well. And this is a way for instance, to tackle corruption. But this wouldn’t be a way to tackle a lot of the societal issues we are facing right now. I think in the future, what we really need to develop is sort of this anti-virus mind. You know, talking from a machine perspective, where technology serves us and, and not the other way around. And when I mean, us, I mean in a decentral way. I mean, the people, I don’t mean, the power structures anymore. This was my two cents.

Natalia Bielczyk 42:35 I fully agree with this statement. And I have to say, there’s is banish method to evaluate or predict whether the companies manipulate their data in the stock market if they might potentially fall in the future. Maybe there might be also a method to estimate whether governments are manipulating their records, public records.

Natalia Bielczyk 43:01 Anyways, my next question in this discussion. Let’s talk a little bit about loyalty in the job market but from the other perspective. We were previously talking about loyalty as seen by employees. But let’s talk a little bit about loyalty as seen from the side of the employer. Do employers today in 2021, do employers still expect their employees to be loyal? And I’m asking because there is like, really heavy migration happening in the job market right now. Employees don’t seem to be as closely bound to their employers as it used to be a 5-10-20 years ago. Who would like to take a stand in this discussion?

Thomas Hubbuch 43:47 Of course, employers expect loyalty. Employers would love to have loyalty from their employees. That’s number one on the wish list. Now, the question is, do they earn this loyalty? And depending from company to company, you have many different answers. Now talking about this loyalty topic, sometimes there is a dangerous misconception also. And that begins always when companies begin to describe themselves as a family.

Thomas Hubbuch 44:22 That’s a very, very slippery and dangerous slope to go into from my point of view. Because of family, from my point of view, is about unconditional love. And the relationships within a company are not unconditional. And I find it very, very dangerous on a sunny day, to create the illusion of a family which is a wrong illusion. And which turns out to be wrong when the days are not sunny anymore. That’s my take on that including loyalty.

Hans Constandt 45:01 Thomas, I really like what you said. Because, of course you expect loyalty if there’s no loyalty. Come on. What I like a lot now. Also, I stopped operationally in April and even now, I send notes to the people. I have a new CEO, the new marketing lady, I see who they hired. I’m still loyal. I want people to be successful. And also, when I hire people, this is very important for me.

Hans Constandt 45:26 And it’s really cool. When you run into bug and your VP engineering left, you can still call that person. That’s loyalty. And then they don’t charge half a day for a consultancy fee. No, they said, ‘Oh, great. And can we catch up?’, and then boom, boom, and do this and do that.’ That’s loyalty. That’s ultimate loyalty. You want that. But it’s also as Thomas said, this kind of family thing.

Hans Constandt 45:50 I understand it, but I’m also not a fan of it. Because, in fact, what I learned even more and you know, it’s not always sunny. My wife says that. She often joins me when I’m on a panel or a mission, because she’s also into business and digital and HR. She’s in fact, the HR expert, I’m not. When I give talks, she always said, ‘You only talk about the positive things’. This is maybe a counterpart to loyalty. When you do a startup, also make sure that there’s an exit if you don’t agree.

Hans Constandt 46:18 It’s like, you know, you have two farmers. One of the founders want to go B2C and the other one wants to go B2B. And you need to have one vision still. How do you match that up? Loyalty goes also like in, ‘How do we exit, when we don’t agree anymore?’; so, talk that through. That’s why I’m entering a lot of startups. And saying, ‘Make sure that you also know your exit from day one, and discuss that’.

Hans Constandt 46:44 And that for me, ultimate loyalty. Because you need to think more about the worst things than a about good things. But because when everything is Kumbaya, it’s easy. When it turns out worse, then you know, you get the pressure from the investors, people are leaving. Your runway is getting shorter. Startup-ish, but you see the same things in big corporates. The visionary leader leaves, you know that there’s something happening.

Hans Constandt 47:06 The loyalty is ultimate; lots of love Thomas. It’s something I use a lot. As a founder, I said, ‘This is the nicest title you can have.’ You cannot ask for it. You just have it. And it is unconditional love. There’s a part of unconditional love there.

Natalia Bielczyk 47:22 Perfect. But what I mean is, employees now migrate in the job market heavily, even though there might be no conflict of interest in the project. They just by default, come for one project and then move on to another one in another company right after they’re done. How do you feel about that, as an employer?

Hans Constandt 47:42 There’s nothing wrong about that. There’s nothing wrong about it. In fact, now when I’m going to start a new company, I’m going to outsource fully my IT. And like, there are great companies who build a business model on that. There’s one in Flanders, Lemon Companies from Filip Smet, and they help you kickstart it.

Hans Constandt 47:59 And you know what, it’s very difficult to hire good people. Because that’s maybe something better for this subject. How do you attract these talents? How do you keep these talents? But yes, you know, if it’s talented people, it’s the vision and the authenticity and the atmosphere that keeps them and challenging projects. If you’re not innovative, whenever you have an innovative person, then that person will leave.

Hans Constandt 48:22 Just make sure that there’s a match. It’s like a lot of people then say we want to hire a UX designer. It’s kind of user experience; the designer. But if you don’t have like, five days a week work of that person, that person will leave because they won’t feel happy. People leaving is fine as long as you clearly agree on what needs to be delivered.

Hans Constandt 48:45 And coming back to the other part of your question in IT. I don’t care where they work and how long they work. What I do care about is that they’re happy, and they deliver what’s being expected. And if they don’t deliver that, they communicate about that, so we can help. That’s the three things. I don’t care about anything else.

Hans Constandt 48:59 I tell them, ‘Go to the fitness when there’s no people if you like.’ I don’t care, but put it in your agenda; be transparent about it. When your kiddo is sick, just put one day off. But if there’s a what’s happened something or to say, ‘I can but I’ll do it at 11pm tonight when my kid is in bed or when my wife is back from her work’. Transparency is important. It’s where you work and how you do it, I don’t care. Do it with passion, do it in a team, communicate well and deliver.

Thomas Hubbuch 49:24 I’m still so curious on the take of Maura on the loyalty topic.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 49:32 I want to quote the founder of AngelList here, Naval Ravikant. I’m a big fan of his mindset. And he always says, ‘You need to hire high integrity, high intelligence and high energy people.’ Whether you are looking for co-founders and you’re a founder yourself. Or looking for somebody to work in the back office, it doesn’t matter. Look for these qualities in a person.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 50:00 I agree, high integrity is super important. Because it all contributes to the loyalty as well. Now Naval says high intelligence, I would replace that by high talent or highly talented and highly passionate. Because if you have this combination of talents with passion and drive, this is really limitless. You have an amazing co-worker in your company. And high energy is also very important, because it has to do with motivation.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 50:35 I think these key elements are always somewhere in the mix, and they contribute to loyalty as well. Now, of course, the secret is, you know, the company culture. Do you have a purpose? Do you align these workers to collaborate on the same page? Do you empower them? Do you give them the right tools? I think it’s the whole ecosystem. And when it is done right, you can create even for short-term project teams.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 51:11 You can create this high loyalty and high efficiency and effectivity within your teams. Like, I think Hans has said, churn is not an issue. It’s okay. If the person did their job, and you know, they leave on good terms and it’s time for the new thing. It’s fine. You still have the contact; people work with people. This is why the human side is very important. I guess, that’s what I had to say.

Hans Constandt 51:39 One of my good friends, founding CEO Jonathan Berte from Robovision. They’re also doing fantastic in Flanders. He says the same. And he knows he hires top talented, high-energy good performing people. If they leave after two years, and he said, ‘That’s how they are. They want to start something that sells.’ And he’s proud of it. That’s the mentality and that’s another part of loyalty.

Hans Constandt 51:59 It’s not about, ‘You are in my company, and only my company’. That’s the old school. The talents need to be able to grow. We should have invited Jonathan here. Because he’s very good at that too, as a CEO, to hire the talents but to let him grow.

Natalia Bielczyk 52:16 Lastly, a short question for a wrap up. We live in times of a global confusion. And it’s really hard to figure out what is true, what is not true on the media. What is your recommendation? Next to, as you will probably say, following the right people. I can predict. What is your recommendation for the channels of information that we might follow as employees that gives a fair picture of how the job market is developing at the moment?

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 52:50 Again, contextualizing and data before getting into the answer. I think, before you go and look for a job, you need a strategy. You need to find out what it is you love, because there is a lot of uncertainty. A lot of people are pivoting or changing paths right now. You know, sit down with a blank piece of paper write down 50 things you’re super good at, 50 things you love and you know sit with that for a while.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 53:20 And ask yourself, how these fits into your life vision and then how it can fit into a working strategy that is future proof. It’s very important to be aware of your passions of your talents. Be open minded. Again, education and learning, I think we are living in an era where you are nothing without continuous improvement and learning.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 53:44 You have to. You know, if you stand still, you lose value on the market. You always need to be comfortable with this growth and the pains that go along with growth. Learn how to navigate your emotion through it. Because I think this is also a big problem on the labor markets but in society in general. People are struggling and they don’t really know how to deal with this.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 54:10 I would say, you know, be aware. Be aware of where you are, be aware of your strengths. But also, be aware of your weaknesses. And be aware of what you have to do of this bridge you need to gap. You know, if you need to follow a training, follow a training first, before looking for a new job. Do whatever it is you need to do to go and to get to the next level.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 54:40 Now this being said, you really need your LinkedIn profile to be spic and span. Especially right now, they have a new algorithm. They have optimized the search features on their recruiters and company will be able to find you a lot more easily. And you can always go into job section. A lot of companies are very actively hiring on there. That would be my number one recommendation still.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 55:10 I would say avoid, … It’s maybe not a very politically correct thing to say but avoid websites like Glassdoor where, you know, employees that sometimes have been fired, or usually there has been a friction with the company. They are usually the ones leaving reviews on the company. It’s not always an accurate, I would say, an accurate … It doesn’t give an accurate picture of the reality, so be careful with reading reviews on Glassdoor.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 55:40 And the most important thing to do is, like you said, follow the right people and reach out directly to the people. People work with people. Find out the companies that you like to work in, if the values of these companies aligned with yours. That’s awesome. But find out the teams you’re going to work with, and who are the leaders within these teams.

Maura Declercq-Mîndrilà 56:06 Follow them, comment actively, you know, networking. I always stress this part. But networking is really part of being a professional in 2021, and the future. Network, reach out to people make meaningful connections. And this is how you are planting seeds for the future. And this is how … This is serendipity. This is how you are creating opportunities for yourself and your professional development.

Hans Constandt 56:32 It’s networking, it’s your LinkedIn profile. With the authenticity, don’t push it, stay close to what you believe. And I would say writing on 50 things. There’s a lot I would start with 10, 50 max. But write down what your values are, what you like, what keeps you going, what keeps you energized. And yes, it’s not always Kumbaya. There will be moments that you have to do things that you don’t, don’t like to do, but that’s part of the game.

Hans Constandt 56:57 But don’t keep doing that for 3 to 5 years and nag about it. When you don’t like it, tell your manager, ‘I don’t like this, but I’m willing to do this. This is the loyalty, ‘But how long will I stay? Well, you have to try and find somebody else to help me’; so, communication. But for the job market, it has changed where we find talents.

Hans Constandt 57:12 In fact, I’m mentoring quite some startups now and the advice I give them to find talents. It’s not to go to the headhunters. It’s cost; it takes time. It’s very difficult to find a match. But you know, when you have a good visibility of your company, but also of yourself; people follow you, they believe in you and people come to you. And I see it a lot. The best jobs we found was after a talk, when people follow me and say, ‘Hans we follow ONTOFORCE, it’s been in the news. We really like your mission. I’m open in two months. I’m not so happy anymore. So, can we talk?’

Hans Constandt 57:19 Perfect … they came to us. That’s also marketing. I tell them, startups, marketing is not about paying for a fancy website and that fancy logo. It has to be spic and span. Maura is right. Don’t be crappish because that’s not the style. But when you do it, do it well. Do it concise. People will follow you. And if they don’t follow you, you’re not interesting, they won’t be a match anyhow. There’s a fit there.

Hans Constandt 58:12 I found it easy to kind of find people. It’s more difficult, of course, when you grow and scale up. So, it’s easier to start to persuade beyond the conferences, beyond these panels. You know, people are saying, ‘Why are you on panels?’ I said, ‘First of all, I get energy. I inspire people. I find new startups that are interesting that I might be connect with, you know, mentoring, advising, maybe angel investor, we’ll see.

Hans Constandt 58:34 But also sometimes like, people come to me saying, ‘Hans, that’s a great idea that’s a decentralized prep for patients. Tell me when you start,’ and I’m helping. And see, I know the first time I will get online in September or October at that, I probably could do 10-12 hires and that’s the point, I think.

Natalia Bielczyk 58:49 At this point, I would like to cordially thank our distinguished speakers. It was a fantastic discussion; great to have you. And to all of you guys who came to the end of this episode, thank you so much for watching. The contact information from our speakers is given below; please check it out. Please contact on LinkedIn and please follow because these are also leaders’ influential voices in the space.

Natalia Bielczyk 59:16 Of course, also look at look up their Clubhouse profiles; very interesting conversations happening over there. Thank you so much for watching once again. If you would like to get more of this type of content, please subscribe to the channel. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please post them below. We will be happy to answer your questions and have a great day everyone. Till next time.

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