Speaker’s Corner: Featuring Benoit Hardy-Vallée, Managing Director, Intelligent Platform Services at Accenture

Tell me about your company and its projects…  

At Accenture, our purpose is to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity. So that’s a lot of work and projects in parallel, across all industries and functions. The one thing that unites it all is the desire and ability to help our clients with rapid business transformation – whether it’s through AI, cloud technology, analytics or automation to name a few. 

The COVID-19 and the pandemic has mandated change in the way we go about business and operations. How has this time influenced you? What are the trends you see within the sector?  

Personally, it meant less time on the road and more time with my family, so I cannot complain in any way. In HR, I saw two opposite trends coming out of the rapid shift to remote work: on the hand, it forced a lot of organisations to engage in a trusting relationship with their employees, enforcing a more outcome-based approach to work rather than presenteeism; but at the same time, it also opened up the door for a plethora of systems that monitor employee’s presence and productivity, so I felt like not everybody is ready to manage distributed organisations – i.e. organisations where work is spread across multiple locations and time zones.  Those who can’t will lose top talent – enforcing synchronous work, office presence and rigid schedule is a sure way to scare a lot of professionals.  

What is your biggest objective as a speaker?  

For me, it’s not about creating a giant “eureka” moment. I am more looking at building a meaningful relationship with the audience so that I can earn the opportunity to create a couple of a “ah – I haven’t thought about it” moments. Those little moments where you realise you had a gap in your knowledge, thinking, beliefs or assumptions, and something makes you think differently. Oh and I love a good laugh, especially with self-deprecating jokes, they never get old!  

Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at the Hacking HR 2022? 

One panel was about digital business transformation – I talked about best practices for an HR transformation business case and how to balance cost saving with business value; the other one was about the new HR skills. 

As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going?  

When I feel, personally and professionally, that I made a difference. If I mentor a colleague, deliver a high-stake presentation or launch a project, I know that clients or colleagues will end up in a better position, and that I had a part in that. It’s the best motivator in the world. 

What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return?  

I can’t say that I prefer one over the other, but I thoroughly enjoy both: in a face-to-face events, you have the experience of bumping into people, short burst of interactions, networking, or just the fun of meeting new folks. In digital events, you can focus more quietly on the content of the presentation, without distraction and the comfort of your home.  

In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks?  

The first one is health – we need to be sure that infections are low and that proper protocols are in place; the second is cost. Compared to an online event, organizing and attending in-person events is costly so we have to make sure that everyone is willing to invest the time and effort. The third is value – unless there are unique, meaningful, engaging learning opportunities, no one post-covid wants to go to an in-person event to hear some clichés or vague platitudes about “digitization” – depth, quality and expertise will be required.  

Eventible.com is a review platform specially catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision?  

I think I would – we need to make sure that reviews are trustworthy, and that they come from speakers but also attendees, and that there is a balance of good and bad reviews. I use reviews for electronics, restaurants, travel locations from reputable sites where I can trust the information, and would do the same for events as well.  

Finally, do you have a favourite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know.  

I am very traditionalist in this area. An old fashioned is my favourite one, made with bourbon and a giant ice cube!   

About Benoit: Benoit Hardy-Vallée advises HR leaders on talent, technology and leadership. With a background that ranges from philosophy to AI, Benoit brings a unique perspective where science, technology and management blends. Through white papers, speaking engagements and his podcast Abrupt Future, he shares his perspectives on the changing world of work and HR with a variety of audiences.  

To view the event on Eventible, click here; to review the event, click here.

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