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Alexandre Zanardi
Alexandre Zanardi

HR Project Manager at Lidl

Early on in my studies, I wanted to go into human resources. Unlike many of my fellow students, I was lucky enough to know where I wanted to go.

I did all my work placements as well as my work-study in the HR field. EM Normandie also enabled me to discover other facets of the business world.

That's why I chose a fairly generalist school. I wanted to explore different professions and not confine myself to human resources. I absolutely wanted to understand how a company works so that I could become more effective in my job.

The many experiences offered during my degree course enabled me to become more professional. That's why I chose EM Normandie, and looking back, I'm delighted I did.

HR practice

I manage a lot of recruitment. People often imagine that it consists of receiving CVs, giving interviews and recruiting people, but in reality it's quite different.

You have to start by finding candidates, which isn't always easy these days. You also need to be able to go and challenge managers and understand their issues. Each manager has his or her own concrete, operational difficulty that we need to address.

On the other hand, we collect candidates' expectations, which are specific to each individual. Some will be interested in an HR policy while others will focus more on the CSR policy.

The other side of the coin is that we collect candidates' expectations, which are specific to each candidate.

As HR, you have to be able to juggle all these aspects relating to management and employees.

You can't always behave the same way with all candidates.

Knowing how to deal with people

Sometimes we touch on even more "human" issues, for example when a manager complains about an employee's behaviour.

At first glance, we think that the employee should not have behaved in that way. But in the end, when we're face to face with him, it's different. When he explains all the reasons, it's the human side that comes first. You put yourself in his shoes and you understand certain things.

What really changes between theory and practice is the empathy we can have towards these human situations that aren't always easy to deal with.

Building your experience

I wanted to discover as many companies as possible. I started with a placement in a recruitment agency on a commercial aspect even though it was mainly the HR aspect that interested me.

I then moved on to a more generalist position in an Accor hotel where I had to deal with very operational issues. It was a great experience.

I then joined a start-up to get a feel for the organisation of a smaller company. My role was to set up HR and recruitment processes. It was another hat that was really different from what I'd done up until then.

I've always felt that to be a good recruiter, you need to have worked alongside different companies, different backgrounds and cultures.

After these three experiences, I realised that what I liked most was the operational aspect of human resources. So I returned to Accor to do my work-study on the same theme as my internship.

During these two years, I was able to discover all the HR issues you can encounter: recruitment, administration, training, internal communication...

I was in direct contact with employees who might have questions or be faced with HR issues. I had to be there to put out fires when needed. It was a very formative experience.

I also wanted to discover a sector other than the hotel industry. I went to work for an IT consultancy. The job was very recruitment-oriented. It was a complete change of population as it involved IT engineers and developers. I stayed in that job for a year. It was a great learning experience.

In spite of everything, I realised that the IT world wasn't for me. My advice to all students is to choose a sector that interests you. When you come out of business school, you're sometimes advised to go into buoyant sectors like finance or tech. But I don't think that's for me.

I think that to be a good HR person, you have to work in an environment that you enjoy and that speaks to you. That's why I changed companies.

For the past year I've been working at Lidl's head office, in a totally different environment as it involves mass retailing. The issues are really concrete. We all have to do our shopping on a daily basis.

Working at head office gives me a 360° view of everything that's going on in the company. I think that's great!

I'm also lucky enough to work in a large group. Lidl is the leading retailer in Europe. That represents more than 10,000 shops.

I'm part of the Lidl France entity, which is growing extra fast in France, which makes the job very enjoyable. As HR, it's possible to set up projects and processes. This situation also makes it possible to make up for delays accumulated over the past few years.

Belonging to your company's ambition

Today, Lidl is a company that strives for high standards. When you're the market leader, you're not just looking to maintain your position but to perform well, which makes the job particularly interesting and lively.

The mass retail sector is particularly competitive, even though there are very few players. The pressure is very strong and it is essential to stand out from the crowd. There are a lot of projects underway, which makes recruiting interesting to do. For example, in the marketing department, we're going to recruit someone to manage this or that project. You don't just replace someone who has left.

When you're creating a new position, you need to clearly define the scope of the project and the recruitment requirements. It's super interesting.

Targeting responsibility

I've always wanted to have responsibilities but above all to have autonomy in my work. It's this freedom of action that I may have lacked in previous companies and that I now find again at Lidl.

During my time at EM Normandie, I remember working in the Sports Office. Very quickly, I knew I wanted to have responsibilities in the office and take charge of certain subjects. I think it's also a question of temperament.

Associative life is an opportunity to try things out without burning your wings and to get to the bottom of issues.

This allows you to gradually feel at ease with responsibilities.

Making your mistakes

I think I've made a few mistakes during my career, rather like everyone else. That's what leads me today to know exactly where I want to go.

These mistakes may have cost me a bit of time and energy but that's what makes me the professional I am today.

I'd do the same thing again if I had to. I don't think you should be afraid of making mistakes. I know very few people who have had a linear career path, whether in business school or elsewhere.

I'd do the same thing again if I could do it all over again.

A lot of young graduates go and work in different companies to identify what we like and what we don't. You shouldn't be afraid to try things out and be able to bounce back.

I find that this ability to bounce back is a strength that many profiles on the market have. You have to be adaptable in all situations and show humility.

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