Skills transformation: the Orange experience

Digital is bringing about new work modes and spaces, and creating new codes of practice. In order for this evolution to benefits everyon, Orange supports its employees in and through the development of innovative and useful initiatives. We find out more from Armelle Bourden Group Director of employment, skills and career paths and Corinne Poupet-Louvès, Head of HR for the Orange Group.

Digital is gradually transforming some traditional professions and creating new ones. What about Orange?

Armelle Bourden: New roles are emerging around data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and also around user experience and design. Finding the right profiles and skills to carry out these new activities is important, however, the main challenge lies in how current professions are evolving. As these roles change, they require us to acquire and develop new skills. At Orange, we’ve identified four major areas of transformation: customer and employee experience and empathy; digital trust; the growing impact of software on networks and businesses; and the need to become an open and agile company.

Corinne Poupet-Louvès: Digital impacts everything. This is a complete change that affects all aspects of work: it breaks down silos in organisations, promotes collaboration and transforms workspaces. When it comes to recruitment, we’re developing a new role: that of the talent sourcer – a head hunter who explores external profiles using digital tools including social networks.

We’re hearing a lot about soft skills, which aren’t directly related to a training or position, but which are particularly valued. Is there a minimum requirement for digital skills common to all the Group’s businesses?

A. B.: We’ve identified 6 key competencies, which all Group employees need, even if they adapt them to their own activities. The first skill is around customer or user experience, and our listening responding approach, which is to understand what people need and expect, and respond in the right way. Next it is important to communicate effectively with clients or colleagues. In addition, there are two digital skills: using and securing data, and adopting a software culture.

We must all develop the way we work together along with an entrepreneurial spirit to support innovation and continuous improvement.
Armelle Bourden, Group Director of employment, skills and career paths

C. P.-L.: We’ve developed a coherent base of skills common to all job lines. Each business unit must now integrate them into its business standards. That’s what we’re focused on today. For example, we’re thinking about the concept of empathy to define what this implies for an HR Director or manager in concrete terms.

When it comes to transforming working practices, collaboration is key. How is this encouraged at Orange?

A. B.: Collaboration is essential: it drives agility, which is one of our vision’s three strategic priorities. Above all, it’s a way for us to take advantage of our collective skillset. For a long time we assumed collective competence is the sum of individual skills, but that’s not the case. It is how individual skills complement each other not add to each other that’s important. We have to learn to work differently – in project mode, with other people internally or externally – and value and recognise these new ways of working. Collaboration also enables new ways of learning in the context of skills development.

The Group offers numerous solutions to encourage and support collaboration, particularly through Orange Campus and the HR School in my line of business.
Corinne Poupet-Louvès, Head of HR for the Orange Group

The Group’s management networks also enable managers to integrate the Group’s strategic priorities set by the EXCOM and share them with everyone. We also have our own HR activities. One example is the HR Agility Tour. We’re in contact with HR teams in the field and show them how to deal with different topics in agile mode through business cases (managing a move, merging two entities...). To date, there are a network of 70 HR ambassadors leading these awareness-raising workshops in France.

In-house training is central to the development of digital culture. What are the main Orange initiatives in this area?

C. P.-L.: Digital culture is something that’s developed every day. Firstly, our corporate social network Plazza has become a real working and sharing tool for the whole business. We also offer practical and operational workshops around a specific theme. Finally, via the HR School, we have put together an initiative called La Ruche Digitale (the Digital Hive). This virtual conference brings together different contributors to work together on a big theme, such as recruitment, over the course of a month.

A. B.: Orange aims to set up a highly digital and personalised learning offer. But learning doesn’t just involve training: we must also offer employees a business organisation where everyone can learn, progress and grow on a daily basis.

It also means we have to create a new approach to career evolution which is less linear and opens up everyone’s horizons. From contributing to a project to leading an initiative, or going to work for a few months in another company, association or start up…
Armelle Bourden, Group Director of employment, skills and career paths

Speaking of new ways of working, workspaces are now being reconsidered. They must adapt, to new digital uses or employee mobility, and be reorganised according to each project. Where is Orange on this issue?

A. B.: The Villa Bonne Nouvelle is a lab where we experiment with new ways of working. We also have many real estate projects, in France and abroad, that have been natively designed to support changes in working methods. This is the case with our future Bridge headquarters, and our new premises in Lyon or Nantes... Orange Spain have gone one step further by launching an ambitious agile approach within a ‘tribal mode’ organisation. The idea is to bring together different professions around a common project – a lawyer, developer, marketing specialist etc. – and enable them to manage themselves autonomously.

C. P.-L.: Villa Bonne Nouvelle is a groundbreaking initiative for Orange. Large companies, including banks, have even come to visit the premises. The Group continues to reflect on new workspaces and organisations. At the HR Department’s site in Jobbé Duval we’re encouraging innovation by breaking down workspace silos and testing new places as a project space or break-out area – we’re a lab for Bridge!

The roles of individuals within companies are also evolving. How is being a manager at Orange different from ten years ago?

A. B.: Above all managers have to set an example. This starts with the disappearance of individual offices, which are no longer adapted to our way of working. Referring to the new Orange headquarters, Stéphane Richard has stressed the EXCOM will also adopt an ‘open space’ approach. But above all digital transformation brings about a cultural change for how people manage: they are no longer the all-knowing sole decision maker. They need to give visibility about the future, unite everyone, create the right conditions for skills development, encourage taking the initiative and risks, help people work transversally on a project... To redefine the value and role of a manager, we launched a vast collective listening project via our internal social networks with managers from all countries. After this listening phase, we’ll be able to identify common objectives with them, with the aim of simplifying their daily lives and helping them adapt to their new environment.

C. P.-L.: In this context, the HR line of business has an important role to play in making the transformation easier.

The HR Director in particular, who is responsible for the strategy and collective challenges, stands out as the go-to advisor for the manager and helps them achieve their objectives.
Corinne Poupet-Louvès, Head of HR for the Orange Group

The role of the HR manager needs to be based around providing individual support to employees when it comes to personal issues and expectations (professional development, mobility, managing crisis situations...). They have to be very attentive to employees’ needs to provide a personal response. We can even talk about employee experience in the same way as customer experience.