HR in the hot seat: Marina Bianconi, VP of HR for East & South Asia-Pacific at Club Med

by Miklos Bolza24 May 2016
What is your job title and what brought you into this role?
 
My title is Vice President of Human Resources ESAP (East & South Asia-Pacific). I cover: Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Maldives, South Korea, South Africa, and Japan. 
 
I’ve been working for Club Med for 14 years now with humble beginnings as an intern in HR at Club Med’s Headquarters in Paris. Since then, I just stayed on and never left! The promise of Club Med to let the talents grow is amazingly true and I’m proud to be a living example. Through the 14 years I’ve been here, I have held four different positions in the company – in both corporate and operational functions. I started in the HRSI field tasked with a great adventure to implement an HR ERP for Club Med. I also moved on to compensation & benefits, administrative processes and HR studies. After which, I was in charge of recruitment and employer branding for the Europe-Africa zone which then brought me to Singapore in 2012 for this position.
 
The last 14 years have gone by in a blink of an eye as the experiences were filled with new and exciting challenges.
 
What motivates or excites you the most about your current position?
 
It’s a bit of a clichéd answer but it’s about the people. I chose to study HR in university, because I realised at that time how workforce management within a company can contribute to the failure or success of that organisation. I honestly feel that employees in a company are not just a resource but an asset. At Club Med, our staff are our best benefits, including our unique roles of GO (Gentil Organisateur) and GE (Gentil Employee). As HR personnel, we really enjoy spending time with the team to nurture the development of our talent. Seventy-five per cent of HR’s job may not be seen as “very sexy” as it deals with a lot of administrative, social matters and complex organisational situations. The remaining 35% of the job is definitely priceless however. The development of our talent, seeing a good recruitment plan succeed and contribute to our business, watching client satisfaction increase, seeing people improve their skills, holding new positions, having a successful experience in a foreign country, managing a multicultural team, and allowing staff to progress in their careers to higher levels – all of this really motivates me.
 
What will HR’s biggest challenges be for the coming year?
 
This would be the attraction and retention of talent for sure. Asia is a wonderful region with a lot of opportunities to grow. In our industry – hospitality and leisure – numerous projects are ongoing and it is moving fast. At Club Med, we plan new resort openings every year and work to reinforce our salesforce. In a landscape of high competition and low unemployment rates, the challenge is high. Nonetheless, I’m confident that Club Med has a good employer value proposition to offer with lot of opportunities for Asian staff who want to grow fast, travel and work in a multicultural environment.
 
If you have one piece of HR advice to offer, what would it be?
 
One day someone told me, “Never forget you are here today because someday, someone believed in you”. I really think this is the best gift that we can do as HR or management: believing in someone’s potential and actively supporting his or her development.
 
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of HR?
 
I love to cook. Shopping in local markets and looking for fresh products to invent new dishes really makes my day. I love to travel and meet other people as well. Also, I am really passionate about culture and history.
 
What has been the most difficult HR scenario you’ve ever experienced?
 
HR has its tough moments. It’s always emotionally difficult when you have to work in an organisation that impacts people’s jobs…