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Totally Rewarding Chats | Ep. 07: The Role of Technology and Global Workforce Diversity in Total Rewards

Sandrine Bardot explores the complexities of total rewards in the GCC, emphasizing the expatriate-dominated workforce, evolving global trends, and technology's critical role in enhancing reward systems.

Tune in to episode seven of Totally Rewarding Chats with Sean Luitjens and guest Sandrine Bardot

It's time to think holistically about total rewards

Sandrine Bardot, a global compensation guru, discusses the unique aspects of total rewards in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. She highlights the composition of the workforce in the GCC, which is heavily dependent on expatriate workers, and the impact this has on pay structures and allowances.

Sandrine discusses the increasing importance of HR and total rewards in the region, driven by global events and changing employee expectations. She emphasizes the need for organizations to address bias in performance and reward decisions and the role of technology in advancing total rewards practices. Overall, Sandrine highlights the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the total rewards field.

Sandrine Bardot - Totally Rewarding Chats

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Episode transcript:

Sean Luitjens
All right, all welcome to another totally rewarding chats. I am super stoked. I have Sandrine Bardot, global compensation guru with us today. How you doing, Sandrine?

Sandrine Bardot
I'm doing very good, thank you. Nice way to be introduced.

Sean Luitjens
Well, it's true. So actually, just so I don't do a disservice, give me elevator pitch. And since I know you have a lot of experience, we'll give you many floors on the elevator to cover it. So not just one or two, but if you give us your background, that would be awesome.

Sandrine Bardot
Sure. I've been working in compensation for 32 years. 20 of those were in the corporate world. I grew up in compensation. In Europe, I've worked in Italy three times. I worked in the UK, of course, in Paris, I'm French. A lot of times, my companies that I worked with, I was very, very lucky. I worked with Airbus, with Philips, Microsoft, Apple, France Télécom.

Fiat Group Stellantis now. So it was really good. My first international job was back in 1999. So that's going to be 25 years of life as a non -citizen in different countries. And my last two corporate jobs, I was global head of performance and reward for two very large organizations that are quite famous in my part of the world now. I'm based in Dubai. So in the GCC, which is the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is made of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and of course the United Arab Emirates, the UAE. Majid Al -Futain is an employer that you probably have heard of because they're the ones who designed and manage the mall that has the ski slope in it where you can go ski in Dubai. Yeah.

Sean Luitjens (01:55.978)

Sandrine Bardot (01:58.126)
And the other one was Mubadala, which is one of the sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, managing all the assets because Mubadala was actually acting more like some form of almost a private equity, like doing joint ventures. And the aim was to diversify the economy of the UAE. So those two global corporate roles across multiple, multiple industries. Dozens of countries. After that, I was like, what do I do next? I still love compensation. I don't want to be head of rewards for an even larger organization. I don't think it will bring me any kind of additional satisfaction. And so I left the corporate world and I set up my consultancy and I was the first, as far as I know, the first independent total rewards consultant based in the region and serving the region.

So I had to educate the market. It was a journey to tell them, hey, you don't need to always go to Korn Ferry, Hay and Mercer and the other big ones. There can be somebody else providing those services for you. And I'm very happy because now there's an ecosystem. When I was first talking of being independent consultants, people were like, what? Somebody can be independent in total rewards. And I was like, it's been existing in other countries for years and years. I lived in the UK. It's a very common type of position, but not in the region. So it's been nice. And I've been doing that now for 11 years as a consultant. 11 years is just a few days.

Sean Luitjens (03:42.506)
So that's why we didn't want to give you just two floors of elevator. Yeah, it's impressive between the names and the different experience and actually the number of countries. It almost sounds like an impressive stop for just people vacationing to go on. So before we jump in, I always ask people, what do you do for fun? Cause you know, it's not just about work. What do you do for fun, for hobbies or outside of work?

Sandrine Bardot (03:44.972)
Thank you. Thank you.

Sandrine Bardot (03:56.662)
Yes, it was as well. Yeah, I love traveling. You might have guessed having moved to so many different countries, but also traveling for just discovering new cultures and so on. And I love reading and especially science fiction. I love science fiction. So.

Sean Luitjens (04:25.258)
Okay, and is that a real plant in the background? That's the important question.

Sandrine Bardot (04:28.558)
It's a fake one. I don't have a green thumb at all.

Sean Luitjens (04:31.722)
Okay. No, we'll have to talk because I have a black thumb and I have nothing green in here. So that looks very good. And that's exactly the only kind of plant that I could possibly have. So let's dig in around the GCC. So I think a lot of people, it'll be just really interesting to have you talk about what's the same and what's different in total awards in the GCC.

Sandrine Bardot (04:43.17)
Me too. Sure. Yeah. So I think it's a great question because we are in a very unique region when it comes to total rewards. So first of all, it has to do with the headcounts composition. The GCC is a set of countries that are fully dependent on migrants. So we're not called migrants, we're called expats because we are not.

But we are all economic migrants in a way, but we're basically the nationals, the citizens are a minority in their own country. And when I say a minority, I mean a very small minority, like in the UAE, it's officially, I think it's officially 10 % of the country. I think it's actually a little bit less than that. So Saudi Arabia is maybe the one country which is the exception because it's a bigger country and they have more Saudi nationals and fewer expats.

In comparison, although they have more in numbers. But in the UAE, if you have like 10 million people, 1 million nationals, and all the rest are expats. So we are called expats as the non -citizens, but we are not what some of you might know as an expatriate or an international society. We are all on local contracts. We are not maintained on the home country, social security, and so on. So.

But that creates kind of a unique flavor in terms of diversity and inclusion because very often companies will proudly say, and we host 78 different nationalities in the organization and so on, and it comes with its own set of challenges and impact on how pay is structured. So because of that history and the fact that initially the first, let's say,

Educated people were coming mostly from the UK and the US because of the oil concessions that were done with the British or the Americans. Everybody in the country, including the nationals, receives a basic pay, allowances. So everybody gets either accommodation paid for, provided by the employer, or a housing allowance. Plus we get a whole number of other allowances, transportation, furniture, mobile phone, whatever. I mean, it really depends on the company and so on. There's a movement towards simplification, but everybody's on that, including the UAE nationals. So nobody is on a basic pay, which is like just the base pay. We always have basic plus allowances as our, let's say, guaranteed monthly income.

And the other thing which is very different is that we don't pay income tax except the lucky American citizens who get taxed on their global income no matter what. But for all the other nationalities, I think there's maybe another one which also has like global income tax. But other than that, we all have agreements between the UAE or Saudi with the whole countries. There's no income tax here. We don't pay income tax. So that's kind of… in a nutshell the premise for how GCC in terms of population is different. And if you give me two more minutes, I think another really important point is that we have practices that change very, very quickly, much more fast than in other parts of the world, at least the ones that I've worked with.

So like we've seen changes in well -being, in long -term incentive laws, in employee retention, in how to manage pay compression and so on. Governments make decisions really, really quick. The landscape can change very, very fast. And the perception of HR has been increasing. It used to be that HR was only an admin function. And now the perception of the value of HR is increasing. And in particular, that of total rewards because in some… companies, it used to be more of an admin function, but now it's truly like a support to the business. And the other thing is that because we're so dependent on immigrant labor, demographics and the international movements in the labor markets really have a huge impact on what we can do, how we pay, how much we pay and so on. So we have variations of salaries that are much more important.

Sean Luitjens (09:36.49)
So on that point, and I guess the one before, I guess, just digging in. So if everyone at some levels basically treated like a host plus a signee, right? If you break out my mobility lingo, how are you normalizing or is a lot of your work on the total reward side normalizing? Whether it's deep, you know, defined benefit, defined contribution, pension, or how does that get handled? Because everyone's got their pension, they broke.

Sandrine Bardot (09:44.462)
Yes. Yes.

Sean Luitjens (10:04.49)
Other than us crazy Americans. I know we're the crazy, the crazy one.

Sandrine Bardot (10:07.342)
Yeah, so that's not a consideration at all. Companies don't really take that into account. People who choose to come to the country know that they're going to make a lot more in terms of cash. And they also know that they're going to make some sacrifices in terms of other things that maybe they are leaving behind. But except for some very high level, like senior executives, CEOs and the likes.

Sean Luitjens (10:34.846)

Sandrine Bardot (10:35.662)
There's not like a differential of cost of living and all of that. No, the price is the price led by the market. And in most cases, people find it that it's a much higher salary than what they would make in their home country. And the simplicity of having all in cash makes it easy. It also makes it easy. I don't know if you've seen there's a TV reality TV series on Netflix called Dubai Bling.

And that's exactly the kind of stuff that I really hate about Dubai because people think that we all live like those multimillionaires and we go for brunch and spend $200 ,000 on the ring to go with an outfit or no, that's not the real life in Dubai. But people are very much submitted to temptation. We are in the world of retail. Temptation to spend money is very big. So I think what we've seen in the last few years is more focused on financial education and financial wellbeing because people tend to not save enough and need to take care of that a little bit more.

Sean Luitjens (11:45.162)
So as I get to how you guys have moved up, HR has moved up the food chain, I guess, or the value chain, are you helping people that are potentially coming? Is that part of the role in Total Rewards to help them do a comparison of pay packages, or do you leave it to them to be grownups basically and do the math themselves?

Sandrine Bardot (12:06.862)
Again for senior executives there is a lot more hand -holding that is done as is the case I guess in any kind of relocation. People who have been in the region for at least a year nobody needs to tell them anything because they know how it works and then you have what I didn't mention is that society is pretty much still a pyramid and you have certain nationalities that do certain types of jobs.

So you will have labor jobs that tend to be done by, let's say, lower income Indians, Pakistani, Bangladeshis, and so on. And sometimes some African countries. And then you will have other nationalities that do different types of jobs. I'm generalizing, but that's kind of how it's built. So for all those that are less saying the jobs that are less senior in an organization, there is one level of pay for them anyway, they can send a lot of money back in their home country. So they don't really look to understand much beyond that, whether it's good or bad. And that's just the reality. I'm not making a judgment here. And for the more senior people, they make their own calculations, but they know their tax, they know their net, they can quickly calculate net to net because the salaries are net here. So.

Sean Luitjens (13:34.346)
Okay. That makes sense. So I'm very interested in how, cause this has been something like you, I guess I've been around since the last millennium in the space and everyone's always talked about either HR at a seat at the table or how Total Rewards moves up. And so you mentioned Total Rewards and HR is seen more than admin now. How have they done that? What, what have been the key items that have allowed them to move up to show more value?

Sandrine Bardot (13:34.478)
That's very easy. Yeah. Yes.

Sandrine Bardot (14:01.678)
So I think, unfortunately, some of the global events that have shaken the whole world, such as the COVID crisis, the global economic crisis in 2008, 2009, and also the change of generations with the Gen Z. demanding more support in terms of, or demanding is maybe a big word, but expecting more support in terms of well -being and especially mental health and so on. So COVID, for example, before COVID,

The only well -being that was ever discussed in the GCC was physical well -being, and it was super classic, like a 10 ,000 step challenge, eat an apple instead of a Mars bar. I'm not doing advertising, but so. And then, of course, with the COVID crisis, the focus on mental well -being, it became more accepted for people to talk about that. It was a huge taboo in the region before to talk about mental health because it was like, oh.

Sean Luitjens (14:49.406)

Sandrine Bardot (15:07.5)
If you say I'm depressed, you know, or I suffer from depression, people were like, this person is cuckoo. And then I'm like, no, there's a big difference. And also what happened is that financial well -being also came more to the forefront because of the financial impact of the crisis, reduced salaries and so on. So that's one example. I think during the global crisis, the role that total rewards had in...

preparing for, unfortunately, for layoffs and so on was also something that became more important. And because we are in markets that are so dependent on the influx of talent, compensation plays an important role because if you are not going to be attractive or if you don't have ways of retaining your employees, once people are in one of the GCC countries, it's very easy for them to travel across the GCC countries. And what we see at the moment, for example, there is, I'm gonna try to say that diplomatically, there is tension in terms of labor attraction between Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Dubai in particular.

Because there are huge projects in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you've heard of projects like Neom or the line, the city that they want to build, which is like a straight, like huge line. And so they need lots and lots of people. PIF, which is the sovereign wealth fund, the pension fund of Saudi Arabia has like lots of money. They are throwing money at people to bring them to work. And so the UAE, which is the other, and especially Dubai, which is the other big place for employment has to adapt and figure out how to keep attracting people, not just by the value proposition of the city, but also financially and so on. And so the sophistication of what we have to implement and what we have to deal with and the frequency of change has increased. And therefore the perception of what we can handle as a sub -function of HR has also increased a lot. It's not just about, let me calculate a bonus or let me calculate if the manager tells me to do 10 % salary increase for employee X. So now we have more rules in place, we have more governance and things like that. So this book is becoming higher perceived in terms of value.

Sean Luitjens (17:42.89)
And I guess we'll move on. Are you using a lot of analytics for that? You know, at what rate are people moving? What are the numbers? Like I can see that being very analytic driven. And I actually, I mean, I'll add, I didn't realize the portability of talent through the GCC was similar to the EU. I did not realize that. So, which makes it very interesting, right? Because there's now the expansion of the ability to move.

Sandrine Bardot (17:51.906)
Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So I would say that, okay, analytics is the next frontier. Some of the larger organizations are beginning to have a analytics team in place and they really look at their numbers. And interestingly enough, the examples that I know of are often in retail or customer facing types of organizations because probably they have more turnover, but they can also tie to revenue and they have if they have multiple outlets and so on, they can go into more detailed analytics. Of course, if you're a manufacturing plant and you have like 2000 steel workers or aluminum workers or something like that, you're not going to have the same need for as much detailed analysis if only because they come in batch and all sorts of different reasons. So we're getting there. What we're seeing also is that CEOs are asking questions that are requiring us to do more analysis of the data. And I would say that usually speaking, there's not, so in some few cases we have an HR analytics or a people analytics team, but in most cases it is going to be the component team that is going to do any kind of analytics for the organization. And we're getting there. Like for example, at the moment I'm working with a client, it's a holding, and there are two total rewards managers working there. And they both have been studying HR analytics, data analytics, there is some also dab into AI machine learning. So I'm like, I was interested to see that even though the background was not necessarily people analytics, the data analytics was coming in. And, and I think once you combine that with an understanding, I think it's like AI, you have the technical aspect, but you need to have that kind of context understanding. If you don't understand the context, you're going to run numbers.

The numbers might be technically correct, but if they don't bring any value to you, what's the point? So you need to be able to extract that from the data. And I think we're slowly, slowly getting there. And I think as well, more people nowadays in the region try to figure out what's going on in the rest of the world, and they want to keep up as well. So we see more of that coming as well.

Sean Luitjens (20:47.722)
So you say analytics is kind of new, but if I ask you what the other top one or two trends emerging in total rewards are, you know, there, it's always good for people to compare, they're the same or different.

Sandrine Bardot (20:58.67)
Yeah, I would say personalization or flexibility or customization. So maybe personalization is the extreme, but flexibility and customization are more easy to put in place. So more and more organizations are trying to see if they can offer some level of flexibility to employees in the way that they handle the packages or give them a little bit of choice. In terms of when and how they work and this kind of stuff. And the other aspect I would say is, yeah, these new ways of working, these new working architectures are becoming more prevalent. So of course, during COVID, we were all working, I mean, except the frontline employees, we were all working from home. A lot of people have come back to the office, but what's happening is that even companies that are saying,

Work in the office. You have some degree of flexibility. So people take a day here to work from home when they have something to do at home or something to do somewhere that requires to be rather than taking a day off. Employers understand it's better that my employees may be away for one hour and I don't lose like a full day of productivity. There's more acceptance for that. Some companies have fully embraced hybrid models and remote work.

We have also a brand new, we have more of an ecosystem of startups, especially in Dubai. And so that kind of also changes the way that people work. And I think we're going to start seeing more work around these new ways of working or new ways of thinking also, maybe pay for skills or at least try to identify skills and see how we can reward them. Although that's a little bit difficult, but technically difficult, but still I think there's going to be more interest because if you have fewer people who meet the expectations of the employer in terms of knowledge and competencies, then what's the other solution is to grow them inside the organization or to take somebody who has less experience or half of the training and who can maybe upskill more easily. So I'm going to give you an example.

One of my clients in Saudi Arabia was a distributor of cars among other things. And some of those cars are hybrid vehicles. And PAF, the pension fund in Saudi Arabia, decided to open manufacturing plants for electrical vehicle batteries. And of course, you don't find anybody who has any kind of experience in EV. But the hybrid techs, they know half of it because they know some part of the electric. So they were being targeted by that new company to go work on the factory line and take on the jobs because it would be easier to transfer and upgrade their skills than to recruit somebody who has no experience whatsoever. So we see that in action. I don't think that many people think that what they're doing is looking at skills and upskilling and so on. But that's the reality of what they're doing. So. I don't think they necessarily put a name to it, but it is happening.

Sean Luitjens (24:19.594)
Are they, do you see much work of either remote non -GCC employees doing some of the jobs or fractional help or do they really still try to keep it in region as much as possible?

Sandrine Bardot (24:31.854)
So I think maybe for independent consultants like me, what's happening, a big difference between now and before COVID, before all the clients wanted me to be on site to do the work. It was like, if you're an independent consultant, you have to be like an employee. You have to be on site. We have to check what you're doing and so on. I'm like, I was fighting against it because I was like, you would never request the Conferi -Hey consultants or the Mercer consultants to be on site. Why do you want me to be on site? Anyway, and this has completely changed now and they're much more open to parts of the work to be delivered remotely. But I think even as a consultant or as a gig worker, there are still parts of the job that are better done in person. So like if you're launching a project and for presenting the results, maybe a midpoint kind of catch up or whatever, you know. So, but this wasn't the case before. So I think that...

If you think that back in 2018, there was a survey that was done where GCHR managers were saying that remote work was a fad and it would be gone within two years. I think if some of them think of what they said in that survey at the time, they're probably realizing now that they were very wrong because even in the region it's not maybe as prevalent as it would be in the US or as Europe, but even in the region, practices have changed.

Sean Luitjens (26:04.01)
I mean, it's changed before I move on. I mean, personally, I'm getting on almost 20 years remote. And it definitely ebbs and flows with unacceptable, weird, normal, back to not normal. And then obviously COVID, everyone was like, how do you do it? And now with return to office, it's very interesting too. I'm always torn between, you know, there's the items that are in person that you do really well and how do you make that happen? And then how do you find the best available talent on a larger scale instead of just in your region? So I'm fascinated by returned office. I don't have the answer, unfortunately. I'd probably do really well for companies if I had the answer, but I don't. So as a nerd, let me kind of dig in. I always have to ask with all this stuff playing out in the region, how do you see technology?

Sandrine Bardot (26:33.1)
Yes. Yes.

Sean Luitjens (26:57.29)
In the region playing a role and since you have such global experience, where do you think they are kind of globally in the technology world?

Sandrine Bardot (27:05.39)

Okay, I think that we're still in majority behind the Western world when it comes to technology. We still see, I once had a client not even two years ago, multinational client operating in over 15 countries and they didn't even have a single HRAS. Each country was doing its own HR system and reporting was done through

Excel sheets that took on average three to four months to gather because nobody wanted to share them. And that's the reality that we were facing. That is maybe kind of an extreme example for a company that was that large. But what we do see is that companies have often old systems in place and they want to jump to the next level.

And I keep telling them, you really need to think about it because especially when it comes to user interface and being mobile ready, this is so important, especially if you have desk -less employees. So at the moment, one of my current clients have a performance management system, which can only be done on desktop. And they have, I would say a good half of their total head count is desk -less employees. There's one computer in each shop or whatever. And I'm like, how do you want it to work? And how do you want people to fit with the deadlines that you're giving them? When it's difficult for the people in the corporate who are all day long on their computer to actually do it, you need to have solutions that are mobile friendly and so on. So we're getting there. Some companies are doing the jump. They're going straight into, let's say, modern proposals.

And we see also a lot of talk around artificial intelligence, how is it going to help? But I think a lot of companies are kind of worried about data privacy. And if I'm fully honest, I don't think it's so much about employee data privacy, but more about company secrets, financials, and all this kind of stuff. But still, there is an element of that. So.

Sean Luitjens (29:15.818)

Sandrine Bardot (29:24.206)

Testing is coming and so on, but I think that few organizations have a very clear view yet from an HR point of view of how they can benefit from AI, for example, except maybe in talent acquisition and still, I because talent acquisition, the thing of talent acquisition is you have such huge numbers of CVs coming in and people to interview and so on. So it's a good initial use case.

But I think it's not very advanced. It's actually the low hanging fruit, just like writing job descriptions. I'm like, OK, can you go beyond writing job descriptions? And let's say how to write the job descriptions and so on. And there are other things to be done. So we're starting to get there. But I think that we're not the most advanced part of the world yet when it comes to technology.

Sean Luitjens (30:18.282)
Okay, which is fair. It's a good assessment. I guess now we'll break out the magic wand. If you could automagically, very official word, automagically solve one total rewards issue in the area, wave the magic wand over the GCC, what would it be?

Sandrine Bardot (30:36.59)
I think the one thing I would say is how to cancel bias in decisions that have to do with performance and reward. Whenever I talk to people and I talk to them about behavioral economics and subconscious biases and so on, every time I mention that in the trainings that I deliver, people are like, oh, they have not heard of it and so on. And then I give a few examples and they realize. And so I think that would be a great thing if globally we could get rid of that, we would benefit a lot.

Sean Luitjens (31:15.978)
It's an interesting one because I think the technology is there, you know, specifically around the pay equity bias when you're doing comp planning, there's remediation. We can all technically do it, but then you keep moving backwards in the chain. And so how do you not do it? So we're going to pay for performance and how do we not allow the manager to be biased, but then is the performance rating biased?

Sandrine Bardot (31:26.446)
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Sean Luitjens (31:43.914)
And how did the system get set up for the performing rating? And were the jobs graded so that the jobs were equal and I can get people in the same bucket? And so that paying equitably and fairly, there's a lot of pieces that go together on it.

Sandrine Bardot (32:00.078)
Yeah, and I think getting to the structural causes is going to be a huge piece of work. And if I may say something which is also maybe even more important for us here in the region, in the GCC, I think we think of the EI in terms of gender. But we also often have government mandated programs for the nationals versus the expats. And within the expats, you have categories of expats. You have the Westerners, you have the Arabs, you have the Asians. And so, and they're all paid at different levels for the kind of the same job.

That's not really official. And it's starting to disappear, especially in the higher levels of the organization. But it is tied to historical data that was like, hey, if you're coming from a country where the salary for somebody, let's say, a mid -level manager is, I don't know, $15 ,000 a year, or another one where the salary for a mid -level manager is $55 we're not going to pay you the same when you arrive in the GCC. So historically, I think the root of everything was driven by that. There's been a lot of work that has been done when I first took care of the Middle East region. I remember my first international job, I was a company manager for South Europe, Middle East and Africa for CITA, a telecoms company. In the aeronautics space. And basically, the HR manager for Middle East sends me salary structures. And I have three salary structures. So I'm like, wow, this is great. He sent me history because one is low, one is middle level, one is higher pay. So I'm thinking this is a historical evolution of salaries. And actually, I look closer and I find that one says Asian, one Arabs, one Westerners. And I went to see my boss and I was like, oh.

Sandrine Bardot (34:00.078)
We can't do it. I'm French. This is like so forbidden in France. OK, so like my first reaction, I go see my boss, my Lebanese boss, like, why are we doing this? You know, and that was the practice in the GCC countries at the time. Nowadays, we don't have that. We have one salary structure for everybody. So we're getting more into pay normalization, I would say, but still you have certain types of jobs for certain types of nationalities because who would hire a German junior accountant who would require two or 3000 euros per month based on what they're paid back in their home country when they can get somebody who can do the work for 500 euros coming from India or, you know.

Sean Luitjens (34:46.634)
Then you have the cost, but, and does that work because the pay is based on your salary, but then basically the housing allowances are consistent so that they can live because in the U S and other places, I'll be an American, the, you can't do that because fundamentally if you moved them here too low, they just couldn't live. Right. So the coal adjustments are different.

Sandrine Bardot (35:07.246)
Yeah, so, yeah, so, but basically what's happening is that there's kind of a self -selection of nationalities for certain types of jobs, because the pay is set at a certain level. And you look at it and you say, oh, this is too low for me. I'm not going to apply for that kind of job. And people from other nationalities would apply for the job. And in the housing is always part of the package anyway. The smaller allowances might not be discussed in the, in the, um, in the, well, there's not always a discussion of the salary in the job posting, but when it's discussed, there's always, they call it base salary, which is gonna be your basic plus your housing, or they're gonna say housing accommodation provided or something like that.

Sean Luitjens (35:54.954)
Oh, that's super, that's, that's, um, I mean, it's super interesting because you have just all of this and then you have the, the kind of the, the history piece to it. And you're right. The self -selection is really interesting, but it'll be driven by supply and demand, right? Because once there's not enough supply for those specific roles, they'll have to up pay to create, to create supply.

Sandrine Bardot (36:03.98)
Yeah. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Sean Luitjens (36:15.85)

So any final thoughts as we kind of started to wrap up? Any kind of final thoughts as you think about the GCC or actually globally, just with your background?

Sandrine Bardot (36:21.996)
Yeah. I think more generally speaking, what I think about compensation and benefits or total rewards, performance and reward as we call it also. I think for me, this is the kind of the, I've been doing it for over 30 years now. Headhunters have told me I'm one of the, I shall say oldest, but I'm one of the more experienced people, one of the pioneers of the art.

Sean Luitjens (36:49.322)
We prefer more experienced. Yes. Yeah.

Sandrine Bardot (36:51.214)
Yes, of people in Europe who actually had a job title as compensation and benefits manager because I studied HR. I studied HR in the UK and in France and back in 1993, nobody was teaching compensation and benefits. The concept did not even exist. Closest thing I saw was a payslip, a French payslip, which is a very complicated one, but still not compensation and benefits.

And so, and in the beginning of my career, I had to explain, no, I'm not a payroll person. I don't know how to run a payroll. I have no idea. And I don't want to know. This is not my job. So, but basically, I think this is still the job for me that has been like, you can have a full career. And even without switching countries, the laws change, the benefits change, the culture changes, the expectations of employees change. You have new competitors for talent, not necessarily competitors for business, but sometimes competitors outside of your industry trying to poach your employees and so on. And I think from that standpoint, I always say to people, you really, first of all, if you're an HR generalist and you want to become an HR director, I would strongly recommend that you do a stint in compensation benefits because you will be so much more credible when you talk to the CEO. But also for those who like...

numbers and people at the same time, I think is the perfect career. You really get into seeing the best of both worlds and you have such a huge impact on people's lives. And you keep learning new things and doing different things all the time because economic cycles, at one point you have to do reductions in force and the next minute you're doing, oh my gosh, pay compression. And the next minute you're doing like, I need to do retention schemes because all my employees are leaving, you know, like poof.

So it can switch very quickly in terms of what you do. And that's the thing I love. It's never boring.

Sean Luitjens (38:53.994)
You don't like Total Rewards, do you? Every time I speak with you, I'm always just like, you love what you do. And I know it could go on and on. I really appreciate it. I'm sure we'll have a follow -up at some point. It's super interesting. For those watching, we will have on the slide the information, Sandrine's information if you want to reach out.

Sandrine Bardot (38:57.678)
I don't at all. I do, I do. Thank you. Thank you.

Sean Luitjens (39:20.074)
She has a podcast, she's everywhere, she's great to speak to. So her information will be able to be found. Thanks so much.

Sandrine Bardot (39:28.494)
Thank you.

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