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Alejandra Porres, Corporate Head of Rewards at AkzoNobel co-hosted the second Global Rewards HR Leader Series in their Amsterdam office.

Other Reward Leaders from a range of industries and companies joined us, including Arcadis, ASML, Embraer, Eneco, International Flavours and Fragrances, Koninklijcke Vopak, Liberty Global, Naspers, Philips Lighting, PWC, Staples, Teva, UCB, and Univar.

The overarching topic was about "building effective rewards organisations," particularly in larger organisations with legacy reward systems and how to balance local and corporate needs and the use of technology and how to help enable and engage the business in terms of understanding the impact of more effectively managing their budgets amongst other things.

AkzoNobel recently announced their plan to demerge their Chemicals business unit from their Painting and Coatings business units. After numerous years of transformation and centralisation of processes, technologies and structures, they believe they are now in a position to make this split.

There were lots of learnings and stories shared from other oprganisations that had gone through similar scenarios, one perfect example being Philips. Deciding how to split and create teams in an efficient way and then developing a retention strategy for top performers is key and appeared to be a re-occurring theme for people in the session.

As you would expect, transformation is something that many of the people in the group have been through in their own careers, and they were able to provide their thoughts and advice. Everyone agreed that communication within the business is essential. And a few were upfront about the dangers of doing too much work before a clear picture was developed.

Leading on from this was a presentation from Philips Lighting on their recent implementation of Workday, a global project that has been in action since 2013. The project had two elements to it, global versus local. They wanted global policies, processes, systems, and governance that followed ONE design, but realized that they also had to consider local elements around STI’s, country guidelines, merit matrix and the Royal Philips business versus Philips Lighting.

Almost all those who have been through this type of transformation said that having data at hand as a source of truth for talent and performance management, compensation, as well as attraction and retention was a key goal. There will ultimately be time spent decommissioning a number of tools and systems, which will involve streamlining processes in order to save time and money.