Mental Health Online Courses

#48 The future of working – Olivier Dubuisson, Co-Founder & Chairman @ Rythmik, Head of Future of Working, Novartis (s03ep4)

Apr 21, 2023

Olivier Dubuisson has the intriguing title of – Head of Future of Working for the global pharmaceutical company Novartis. He is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of Rythmik, a global consulting firm, based in Switzerland, specialising in the future of working and employee experience. Olivier stresses that when it comes to workplace flexibility, we need to spend less time worrying about when and where our employees work, and more time on how they work. He refers to this as moving from Hybrid 1.0 to Hybrid 2.0. Our discussion also delves into the Metaverse, and using virtual reality goggles and other technology to foster collaboration and belonging in a virtual world.
"I wish that there is a kind of direction in the movement towards really starting to actively measure belonging, because that is going to be a critical key with the upcoming generations as well. That's going to be the factor of choice for some people to join organisations and to leave them as well."
- Olivier Dubuisson


  • What it is to be the Head of Future of Working for the global pharmaceutical company, Novartis.
  • The importance of gratitude.
  • Olivier’s career journey from Architect to Management to a 6-year stint with BP UK.
  • Working in the metaverse with the use of virtual reality goggles.
  • Olivier’s entrepreneurial work in helping to start some other NFP and smaller ventures.


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Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Olivier Dubuisson

Graeme Cowan 0:06 

It’s a real pleasure to introduce Olivier Dubuisson from all the way from Switzerland. Welcome, Olivier.

Olivier Dubuisson 0:19 

Thank you, Graeme, thank you very much for your warm welcome here.

Graeme Cowan 0:24 

What does care in the workplace mean to you?

Olivier Dubuisson 0:27 

Yeah, it’s something, I think very important. It’s about– It’s about kindness and compassion. And that’s how I translate it. And I think in the workplace, when you apply that you actually make people feel a welcome, like you just welcome me on your podcast. I think that’s when you have kindness and compassion, you have the ability to empathize more with people as well, you have, you’re developing things like listening, which are important skills, and not just for leaders, but also for anyone in the workplace to be able to, to experience. So that’s what care in the workplace means to me. It’s really about kindness and compassion.

Graeme Cowan 1:17 

You have a very interesting background, like I was formerly a recruiter, and very interested in how people’s careers evolved. And you started off as an architect, you’re now the head of the future of working at Novartis based in, in Switzerland, just for our listeners, can you give a brief overview of that journey and how you ended up in this current role.

Olivier Dubuisson 1:41 

Sure. And so let me start with that academic point. And when I was 16, I decided to leave the normal schooling program in Belgium. And there, I wanted to follow a passion, which was design and architecture. And there was only one school in Belgium, which allowed me to do that at that young age. And I did a special program that helped me to know kind of a bridge to my teens, when I had them to decide where what do I do. Do I follow that passion even further? Or do I go for anything else. And I decided to go for something else, interestingly enough, which was more computer and computer science, etc, which, which gave me opportunities to, to do many other things in life. But I still have that passion, very strongly anchored into what I do, and the eye for design is important. And when I graduated from, from my master, then I started to move into the world of corporate. But funnily enough, it’s not, I’ve not had enough through the corporate world. So, I always had some kind of ventures on the side, which, which I’ve done mostly for fun. Now some time, you know, with some upwards benefits, no, on the reward side, and someone with some really the dawn was benefits and all that he wore Titan. When you invest into, into what you do, and you lose everything. It’s not very nice experience, but you learn from it. And that’s one of my big learnings. And so, on my corporate track I’ve been involved early on in the HR world since 2005. Someone, one of my friends in Haley, here, we are looking for Webmaster in our company, and why don’t you join us? I think that you will be fantastic. It was like, Well, why not? I don’t know I had moved the ball skills, maybe I can be helpful. And very early on in that company, I started to move away from doing what I was supposed to do, to join more of a consulting type of firm that was focused on helping clients transform their organizations and very much focused on the human side of it. So that’s been a cava, my journey towards the human elements started from a very young, I would say, part of my career. And since then, then moving towards helping people transform has been kind of my, my bread and butter has been very focused on how digital has a role to play. And later on, when I moved towards VP in 2012, then was, again another transformation but more from a client perspective. So instead of advising people can I just know, do your work from there from scratch, it was so fun, that we delivered quite great transformation there. And I mean, workday, etc, which I’m many people I’m sharing that will recognize not as a consumer or as a user or you know, as one person in in the HR department trying to make it work. And so, using those transformation, there was a moment, which I think is important for audience work. That really transformed my journey, my career, I was probably meant to be in the transformation space, but then there were moments where it moves towards the experience space. And I do remember that moment very, very clearly. In 2016 I was offered an opportunity to– I cannot remember even though the moment it happened, so our CHRO used to every year, go to the board of directors of BP and share story and picture them, you know, all of what we do, which is great and but also what we could do, which could be even greater. And I do remember that it kind of gave her an opportunity to my boss at the time to say, hey, we should do something about talent, and aren’t we investing in, in the digital space? So, can you get your team to produce something? And then we were in the room, and he said, Okay, so we are the 25th or 26th of July, I don’t remember the exact date, but it was around July time, just before the holiday. And in UK, it was based in London, the August time is typically where the executives switch off, and then you start September. So, it was like, okay, the board is in September, we are end of July, we have to produce something, and we have one month. So, who is around it? No during that time, and I did not have a kid yet. So, I was kind of the one that was going to be around. So somehow, I started to produce a movie called ‘The future is bright, but different’, which was picturing the future of work at a BP and, and then it went to the board and story was it was really successful. They wanted everything, even if it was a vision, they wanted everything. So, we started the journey to discover, design thinking and how to empathize with people how to listen to their needs. And during that journey ended up no leading the experience team there. And in 2019, after a large transformation that touched culture, HR and systems, Novartis then decided to take me under their wings, because they were doing a massive cultural transformation, which is still ongoing. And they said, Okay, we need to change our mindset, we need to change the way we think. And that’s what I really love. In the job experience. It’s not just about processes, it’s about changing how people think and behave. And so that’s been, again, fantastic journey so far there. And the last year, we’ve been following the pandemic and discovery of the future working, which was very much anchored towards I think that’s still a narrative that’s going on, which is about where and when we work in flexibility, etc. Personally, I think there is too much emphasis on where and when to way too much emphasis on where or when. As you probably know, remember some of our earlier charts before, before today. And we need to emphasize more on the how it works. I think that’s been my journey. And hence no, we started to create this department called future working, which was studying and experimenting with different practices, different ways of doing things. And it’s such a very variety of domains from changing the way the office looks, to changing the way people behave in the office, changing the way that we are using space, including home space, changing the way that we are teaching leadership changing the way that we are, we are caring for people. So actually, there was a wide range of activities that we experimented with. And, and using those experiments, we learned that the future of working for Novartis was hybrid, but not hybrid, like most companies see lightweight, which I call hybrid 1.0 with the hybrid 2.0, which is take care of how people work. That’s been my journey. And the site has mentioned a bit of a corporate venture tracks knowing in startups in variety of domains, like from luxury goods, importing from France to the UK to you know, building a property business now. So, there’s been a variety of different tracks and then I always had this kind of element of I wanted to have fun, and balance it in life, because I believe that there is a balance that needs to happen and from mental health and physical health and emotional health. And that’s kind of been my equation of balancing it all. It’s been do what you love, or what you would like to love there and your passion and do something which also is very interesting, but balancing both so you can really flourish and learn and grow. And that’s been my journey. Sorry a little bit long. No, I think that’s–

Graeme Cowan 9:04 

No, it’s great to hear that evolution. And we should mention to our listeners that we first met at an HR leadership conference in Sydney, back in back to three weeks ago, I can’t quite remember what the date was, but I said it on your presentation to the group and, you know, I was really impressed by you know, what you will posing, how work would change. And so, for those that weren’t there with us, this concept of going from hybrid one to hybrid two? How does that– How would you decide to do that in a team to move from hybrid one to hybrid two?

Olivier Dubuisson 9:24

How will I decide to do that? How will I suggest people to do that?

Graeme Cowan 10:14

How would you suggest people do that?

Olivier Dubuisson 10:18 

Because I’m sure I will do it differently. So, it’s, um, I think first there is a deep recognition of, of where people are right now, in and I kind of see. And it’s not just meeting observing, it’s also the data we are capturing. So no, I’m sitting on three years of deep research in this space. Now, we’ve met millions of data points. And I think that actually we have more data points that what Microsoft has released into the productivity paranoia report or know some of the Gartner reports that I look at those I’m like, Yeah, I can confirm all of that, but just using the internal data. So, I don’t even need the external data to tell me what we already know. Effectively, what I find from the current narrative that’s happening in the world is this dilemma between organizations that can have our in a post pandemic, old hear about productivity, efficiency, performance, cost, pressure, potentially recession, we hear those words, I think we all hear them, you just need to open your, your, your news app, and you will find something that company has decided to fire so many people or that the tech industry is in danger, or the stock market this etc. I mean, we are bombarded with information that tells us that something is happening. That’s no, it’s not always look positive. On the other end, we have employees and employees, I mean, people, because employees, not necessarily just employees, like Don in a chain, if we look at an org design, like at the end, no, that’s not what I mean, I mean, employees like people, so that means also managers, and they are there and there is a gap between the two entities, they always been a gap, I find that there is a growing gap in the sense that organizations are trying to like, look, we are in this rush to find solutions. And then we have to somehow apply some logic. So, we are going to instead of letting you discover what works for you, we are going to impose it. And I think that’s dangerous. But okay, fair enough, companies have the opportunity to do that there is no one that will say don’t do it. I mean, if someone decides in an organization at an executive level that no people have to go back to the office, so it is a policy, and you enforce the policy or not. And then you see the results. But all the results that we’ve seen shows, it’s not going to change. So, what’s happening is this growing gap between the people and the organization. So what we found is that when you are focusing on the people, and you are then uncovering the performance of teams, you are finding the teams that have this ability to be much more not it’s not the control thing, much more responsible and accountable for how they work, are going to work in a much better way that teams that just follow the orders from organizations. And so what we are finding is who is lost in this overall equation, and the people lost are typically the first line managers, those that have been promoted from the ranks or been acquired not to lead a team of individual contributors, some time or most times not even have been taught any ways of leading, they just they just don’t know how to move from managing and controlling to leading teams, making teams feel really you know, connected, feel they collaborate together, they have sort of a leaping forward vision or objectives that they can all anchor to. They’ve not been taught that there is no school that really teach these kinds of skills of how to lead now most of what we hear is how to manage also, how to manage to how to manage businesses, or how to do marketing, but we are lacking those skills. And what I find is that when we move from adding one to a lot of the people then say, oh, okay, I’m losing flexibility, which always existed and the flexibility is about in most cases, okay, you know, I’m doing some generalization here, right? I can say flexibility for service organization or for healthcare, like a hospital might have different definition of flexibility. However, in the common sense of how people in the office work are like okay, sometimes I have to take some time to take care of my kids or, or to be able to be at home for something that always existed before COVID. Now that always existed, most companies will give a certain allowance for people to work from home, and the technology such as the one we are using now, as been booming since then. Because you know, people realize that with good internet connections, they can work from anywhere. So it was a learning experience, I think, a huge global experiment, very sad one, but it served a global experiment to learn that, despite the restrictions that happened, that where you will have to work from home in order, or you have to be in the office in order, because there was this mix going on, people learn that they were very confident in the way that they learn new skills to collaborate and to exchange with people or whatever. Then we come to the after COVID. And then the after COVID. If you’ve got into focus, and what companies are doing, which is Canva, bringing people and saying, oh, we still need to see you in offices, we still somehow need to find a new equation there. And using the hybrid one concept, which is okay, I’m going to impose where and when it’s easy not to do that, but not focused on the how people work, then, you know, it’s going to frustrate the employees that they’ve learned so much, and so hard to think of it that they can actually do something useful, despite the restrictions.

Graeme Cowan 16:10 

I heard, today, I was listening to another webinar, and there was an HR director on there. And she turned about talked about, you know, groups heading team agreements. And that sounded very similar to what you described, you know, they work it out themselves, you know, they, that they share the demands that they have in their personal life and work life and the workout together, how to go, how to go forward. And I think that’s a very, very positive development. And, and I’ve also previously interviewed people from Boston Consulting Group, and even way before COVID, and all that sort of stuff, they work on doing incredibly intensive projects. And they have this concept called breakable time off. So, when they start a project, they all talk about something, it’s really important to them. And for some, it might be quality time with their seven-year-old child for someone else who could be writing a novel for someone else that’s going to the gym. And they work together on how they can all have those predictable times off. And they let the client know that in advance as well. So, you know, that’s they’ve always been one of the great places to work BCG. And they adopted that very early even before the pandemic began.

Olivier Dubuisson 17:29 

And I’m sure they focus very much on the on the manager of these teams to have the skill to be able to have those conversations, which I think is really where organizations should focus is, is encouraging managers to have the skills and the capability to hold these conversations. They’re not easy conversations. But when you have them and you have a flow to them, that really sits nicely, shows that the manager cares, shows that the manager is listening, shows that there is an exchange, it’s not just a kind of a policy mandates that’s happening. What I’ve measured and with my team is that teams are performing no to new levels of performance compared to those that don’t apply that the conversation of team agreements. Funny, you mentioned that we have a in what is a team agreement, what we call a team booster, which is a sort of a very encouraged way and mechanism to be able to get to Team agreements, and everyone at the end signs and agreements. And it’s useful in some in a lot of instances. And in this instance of going into the how we are more encouraging what we call the hard conversation, which is how can teams deeply using also some mechanism go deeper than a team agreement? They might not end up signing a paper. Like, no, this is how we agree. But they might reflect more on what were the moments whereas a team, they were at their best, and then find those trying to find those moments back. That’s really, the whole conversation is and so I think the two combined really, these what we are now starting to explore with, with my venture, which is very much like is there a way that we can create commitment with a team and at the same time have the depth of the conversation? And that it’s not awkward? But it’s really we find that the recipe is the manager. So, at the moment, right, maybe we find something else in the next few months, but so far, nobody think that the recipe, the person that has the ingredient that can make it happen is the manager and that’s not to apply these strategies. Sorry.

Graeme Cowan 19:45 

That’s okay. I was just saying, we’ve spoken previously about psychological safety and Amy Edmondson ‘s work and that really is a foundational component. And you know that project Aristotle from Google where they tried to look at what made up their best teams, 180 teams around the world, and 240 factors for each team. And they came up with five team norms. Number one was psychological safety. Number two is dependability. Number three was clarity of landmarks and goals. Number four was meaning number five was a sorry, number four is purpose number five was, was impact. And by far, the most important was psychological safety, because as you just mentioned, that underpins everything because it means how you can have the conversation, robust conversations about dependability, about clarity of, of, you know, roadmaps and all that sort of thing. And you need to be able to have those, at times difficult discussions, and get some sort of agreement. It’s not always a democracy, but at least people feel heard in working out how we’re going to go forward.

Olivier Dubuisson 20:54 

I don’t have a perfect definition of psychological safety, I think you’re absolutely spot on when you say it’s one of the big foundations of any work environments, shouldn’t be psychological safety, absolutely no 100%, I do see a variety of way to achieve that. When I observe organizations, you know, trying to get there, I think there is those that are really doing the hard work know, to create the environments, the workplace, as well as the culture where psychological safety is very strongly embedded. And therefore, they are achieving it by working towards, by just by doing the work by doing it with care, with empathy, by leading with authenticity, vulnerability, that is what creates the space and you can, anyone here to probably has, in the experience, a been opening the door of a company could be a client could be a supplier, whatever, you open the door of the company, and you have a boost of energy that comes as soon as you open the door, by being there. Those companies, mostly, if you have had that experience, which is a company that you can, I can nearly guarantee will have had a certain way of doing things which is embedded in the culture, which has helped to protect political safety. And on the other end, I see also companies that are trying hard, but maybe doing it by talking more than by doing. And I’m very critical. I know when I saw very critical when I say that, but they are companies that are talking all about psychological safety, I see them on LinkedIn, and I’m sometimes feeling very sad, because it’s all about know what appears to be focused on that, or whatever. When you open the door of that company, and you start to feel the future. You see there is something out. There is you don’t feel welcome, you don’t feel like no, there is people there that that caring for you or you are hearing know that there is no conflict or this. Actually, there is something of those companies that you can recognize it, I’m sure that all of our audience here will have potentially already experienced that, you just have to open the door and see what happens to your body, your reaction, how you feel about it. And I’m probably clear that’s knowing in my experience in the data I captured in the last few years is quite consistently, if you put too much emphasis on safety and safety by talking about it, it’s most likely that you’re covering that you’re not doing something about it. So [23:29] is make sure that you are not just talking about it just change the way you do things as a leader to really foster the element of the culture of your team. And psychological safety will be a resulting factor of it, as opposed to something that you need to anchor. One of the danger zones is when someone talks about the need that I’m already like, okay, I’m turned on, right? So, if you if you start by saying I’m going to try to create jacket safety here as like, okay, that you’re not creating surgical safety right now. No, and it doesn’t matter how you say it, you know, as nice as you need to know, just act on it and stop talking about it, I think would be my advice to the people.

Graeme Cowan 24:06 

definitely. And, you know, one of the things I do in you know, whether it’s a webinar or a keynote or a workshop is as people reflect on a great team they’ve been part of, and it could be this role previous role could be when they worked at McDonald’s or when a sporting team as a, as a child, what was it what made it different? And, you know, I provide usually, I think there’s about 9 or 10 options, you know, clear strategy, complementary strengths, you know, working with each other that always the top three or 95% of the cases, the top three things that come up. We care about each other. We enjoy working together, and we had each other’s back. So quite simple concepts but do speak also to psychological safety.

Olivier Dubuisson 24:58 

And I think it goes quite deep to be honest, Graeme is, it’s because it also relates in how the company functions in the background. So, when I’m hearing or when I’m reviewing rewards plans, or I’m looking at, you know, how tenant attraction or retentions down policies, the way that people are being evaluated at the end of the year, or during the year, it goes quite deep in, in the way that it’s done. So if there is a, it, if the company cares about their people, typically, they are moving away from the more traditional HR models, which we have seen, I don’t want to criticize that they’ve been there for a reason, because there was nothing and it’s great, but moving towards more employee experience focused movements, known within organizations, which are looking at that from an end to end journey of, of their people. And I think that when companies are starting to shift the focus on the human sides, like the real human, not just the resource part of the human, but the human element, and look at that as a as a whole. They– it’s not they cannot draw immediate benefits. I agree. I mean, I’ve seen that, and I’ve had endless debates with our executives, you gave no tangible benefits that comes from it, that you can measure directly from the impact of caring for people or whatever. When you look at the intangible benefits, and then you look at and you are doing qualitative research into your people, and that says, no, actually, there’s something that has changed you. That’s interesting. What has changed? Why is it changed? I have, my manager is so much, so much better in the way that we are doing as a team. I mean, I feel like I belong. And this is an invitation. I know that sometimes, you know, I kind of go in the echo chamber when I say that, but we are measuring in the organization, I think we as large organizations are measuring engagement. And every year I look at the Gallup reports about engagement, which is one of the references and says, well, no, people don’t feel really engaged. That’s kind of my summary. Okay, I generalized, I’m sure that we get a lot of comments about it. But effectively, there is a bit of like, no, an engagement paranoia. And so, when we are focusing on experience, most of the time, it’s all about how we are going to communicate better, we are going to market what we do better. But actually, what is it? It’s about– It’s not about engagement. I think it’s about belonging. And that’s something which many organizations should start measuring more measure belonging, don’t measure engagement, only measure belonging, because people can be engaged, I can come to work and feel like Yeah, well, I’m happy, and I’m engaged. But actually, I don’t really feel I belong there. Because maybe I don’t really enjoy my relationship with my leader, or my team members, or, you know, just know the brands sometimes as well. But very frequently, it’s about, it’s about managers, and the relationship between the manager and the way for the manager or the leader to create the culture of the team, to foster the culture of the team to keep the team you know, in a state of creative tension, so that they can be at their best at the edge and achieve the edge. And at the same time, you know, looking at the belonging element, because people that speak during exit interviews, said very clearly, no, I did not feel like belong there, because I did not really appreciate the culture that was created around me. Really, I think that is something that I wish maybe you know, it’s, it’s too early, but I wish that there is a kind of direction in the movement towards really starting to actively measure belonging, because that is, that is going to be a key and critical key with the upcoming generation as well. That’s going to probably be the factor of choice for some people to join organizations and to leave them as well.

Graeme Cowan 28:52 

That sense of connection and belonging is just so again, foundational we ‘re humans, we have that need to feel part of a group, part of a tribe, whatever you want to call it. It’s how we’ve survived over the, over the decades and over the centuries as being part of a group and feeling that we have people around us who will support us and it is very, very important. And it’s become challenged in this world of work that’s happened with COVID. And, you know, more people not being in the same room together. And I think ultimately it is one of the biggest challenges for workplaces. How do we build that sense of belonging when hybrid is going to be the future of work and where and how we work is going to vary but how do we keep building that sense of belonging? One of the things that you spoke very enthusiastically about in Sydney when we met was the metaverse and virtual reality. So much show that you inspired my hand my co-founder in Wicker 365 Brendan to go out and buy some goggles as books that he bought some goggles. You I’m not sure he’s actually using it, but he’s bought them. And he showed me here. Now even up into this in quite depth compared to most people, what are your observations about it in terms of how it will affect the future of work? And can it improve a sense of belonging do you think when we aren’t in the same room together?

Olivier Dubuisson 30:35 

So, there is not just one easy answer to that question that you know, that will try to be concise and precise. You know, I bring this, and we make a mistake by doing that, but let me try. So, they are as part of a new venture, we are doing research into two spaces right now. And they are technology driven because of the moment we are in as a society as opposed to just what we are trying to research. And one is the metaverse which we have been researching for more than eight months now. And the other one is the artificial intelligence with the emergence of tools that can really accelerate some of our thinking, but also be a detriment to our thinking, and I will come back on that in a minute. On the metaverse, we are really focusing on what’s the impact on work as opposed to Metaverse is concept. I mean, some people talk about the metaverse as being the next big thing, the 30 Probably about $40 billion invested every year by big companies to just make it happen. And in the press, it goes from why it’s fantastic to boo, you know, no one is using it. So, I think there is it’s really early. And it’s not just about for the audience, not just putting a piece of technology on your face like headsets that looks like it really bulky. And I have one person next to me. So, I’ll show it, but sort of a bulky piece of plastic with a screen that you put in and suddenly you are in this fantastic world. No, I don’t think the metaverse is about that. I think the metaverse is a is a 3d scan of a three-dimensional environment which is digitalized that helps to foster social and work connections. Though true it is true that there is a there is a piece of it which looks at real estate transactions or NFT’s and blockchain if you are into it great. No Be my guest and come in teach me more because I’m hungry learner into that space. But I’m not going to speak about that today. The Metaverse that we are studying is the metaverse impact on work, which is typically more about collaborating or creating sense of belonging and having the element of networking that comes with it. And what we have evaluated is the difference how people meet when they are in different time zones in different places, using a Metaverse technology, using the technology like zoom teams, others and the new technology, so be all in presence. What we found was quite interesting in the sense that when we evaluate that around collaboration, innovation, creativity, belonging, and networking, what we are finding is that using the metaverse, you are as close as you can be to an in-person meeting. Why, and this is the peak I think the I’m not going to reveal anything fancy, but this is the big moment is we realized that the people that speak about Metaverse that are quite negative about it, if not tried it for six months, seven months, eight months, or never. And what I found is by showing people by letting them experience what we have experienced know for the last few months, they suddenly realize that oh, hold on a minute, that is different to what I did before. And I think that’s why also this this I think this technology is that only emerging stage is because you need to have a certain mass of people that are trying it that they see the benefits to then be able to make it go through into your work environments. So, we are years away before we are all going to be connecting in using those moments and it will not remove this the social connections of in person, I can assure you that it will be a mix of both. It might just enhance the way you collaborate from a distance. It might just enhance the way you can network from a distance because I think that people are becoming a lot more eco-conscious as well and sustainability conscious and so traveling is a big part of businesses and no we are we see organizations starting to move towards a bit less trouble try to optimize it how can you still connect and you have technology we provide you with the technology provided today by organizations, I zoom teams Google meet, etc. is not going to create the sense of belonging that you need to be able to create together to collaborate together. And this is where I think the metaverse interesting role to play. Let’s be clear, I think it has a role to play, what we are missing is people putting your headset and trying it. And so, we still see a lot of commentary of people that say, yeah, no, I don’t see the point. But then when I hand when I hand over the headset and say, try it and tell me then don’t judge before you try, judge after you try, and let me show you, and it’s not perfect, that’s for sure. And it’s improving. But I do see a big hole about it. And maybe it’s not it’s the word metaverse that scares people a little bit. It has been also grabbed by big, big, big corporates, you know, into the world to say how that’s all of our focus, no. And, and we are kind of in danger, because it looks like social media, big brother data, no, I’m giving my life away, etc. But actually, when you look at it from the lens of work, it’s super useful. It’s actually quiet, quiet, quite different and energizing to be there. And I will admit, I cannot stay in the metaverse doing work more than 90 minutes. But two reasons. One, the battery type of these headsets is not no more than that. But the second one is that I am much more immersed into the discussion when I use it. I have no distractions, nothing around me, that can distract me. I don’t watch my email. I don’t watch my watch. I don’t, I don’t look at my phone. I mean, this environment. And I’m concentrated so much on the discussion that I found was actually more productive and more efficient in using that technology than using something where I still have my distractions around me. In this room that you don’t see, though, you see only me behind me. I have Legos here on my left, I have no water. I have a camera at my screens on my iPad. I mean, the wall of destruction. The Metaverse these zero, this question. And I think that’s really something that struck me. And then I was impressed by some technology advancement. using AI to recognize my intonation though I speak English, but with a very strong French accent. I’m sure all of them, all of you will have noticed that. And actually, you know, it still recognizes my intonation still mimics my face. It might not look at my muscles to recognize when I’m smiling or when I’m sad, or you know, to create more emotions, but the next version of the headsets is doing that. And effectively, I think it’s going to be quite an interesting one. No, there are two movies that really scared me know about Metaverse, one is Surrogate with Bruce Willis 2008, something like that. There is what taking it. And the other one is what’s the name? It’s on Netflix. It’s the rogue world. It’s Rogue one. Rogue One World it’s an it’s a it’s a movie where young people play a game like a live game, but in a sort of a wild environment. And, and there’s a book about it. And I think one of my friends bedroom said, Okay, you see this movie, and I did watch it. And I was like I hope the one of the future is not like this, but I hope they still much more human connection box people. But it does. It does show us also that with any advancement, there could be some abuse. And so we have to find the right balance. And we just have to develop a critical spirit. As kids and to our kids, I think we have to give them that we need to really help them to develop that critical spirit to recognize what’s good and what’s not good. I mean, it sounds so trivial and so basic, but to be honest, that’s what’s going to really I think no make the world a better world in the future if we can, from a very young age really teach them because access to technology is not going to help them to teach them that actually to make them worse. And then. So that may be the balancing with the metal is to the AI. I think AI is a has the potential to make us older. So what’s the skill of the future that we have to teach our kids now? It’s about not being creative. It’s about really thinking. So it’s a thinking element that’s going to save that component. And is the critical spirit is the ability to compare to research to not take a piece of information and think that’s the truth. That is a skill. And I think that’s a skill that we’re not teaching enough at schools that needs to be really brought back in, you know, into it. I mean, I was just the anecdote I was visiting your school last weekend with my son and I had the opportunity to he was away in the classrooms and I was kind of asking the head teacher, they’re showing us the school and having a great chat because like I have a philosophical question. What’s– What do you think education looks like in 10 years? Because with the emergence of GPT all of what we are hearing Delhi MC Gianni and all these books. What– what is it that you need to change? Or what is it you do already today that is going to help all kids learn how to live in a world where they have access to all of it. Now I have a son nine years old, he’s already on CBT. I mean, this It scares me. Yes, if I introduced it to him might be in. And so, but how do you help our next generation to be ready for having access to all of this potential knowledge that comes at the fingertip without doing much work. And so the effort that we are going to have to shift towards is the efforts around creativity and the efforts around thinking that’s going to be the differential factor for people in life in the future, that I can nearly guarantee that, and know, it’s about when and how we are making it happen. And I think that’s really a collective responsibility to look into it. And it’s a very scared part of me is excited, but somehow in between the two, they still no happy medium. So, we need to watch out. But also, we need to not be feeling like no, I’m against it, I will just invite people to say, come into try. And if you are not comfortable to try by yourself, it’s okay. It’s okay. Try to find someone that can show it to you that is going to be caring about you. So that you can, you can actually really give your best in trying something new and don’t. Don’t just put it away because maybe it doesn’t do what you would like to be to do. Just go back–

Graeme Cowan 41:36 

One thing we have to think about when talking about the future of working is Gen Zed and Millennials, they’re obviously going to be a huge part of the future of working. And before we started today, you just shared briefly, some research you were looking at about, you know the motivations of that group, but you might just share with people what you’ve found out so far?

Olivier Dubuisson 42:02 

Absolutely. It was, it was so fascinating. You know, I had to mention that. And let me start by sharing what the world thinks of Gen Z. And we are studying right now, not just Gen Z, but also the late Millennials. So, anyone born between 1992, and 2000 know about that. So that’s a year, eight years group. Now, it will capture some Gen Z, but it will also capture Gen Z starts around 1997. So, we need to just now be a little bit cognizant that they’re not all into the work environment yet. So, we just need to look at that from a late millennials because they have similar traits in terms of access to technology, etc. And so, when– So in the research, we found something interesting. But before I go there, let me give what I then received when I started to chat with a very Senior Executive in a large organization. And it happened to be that that executive was at a conference where they were talking about it so he sent me a screenshot, which I have just in front of me so I can read it to you and to the audience. What are the top five things that no Gen Z engage into right now? Gender, role, flexibility, LGBTQ plus rights, eco consciousness, ecological concerns, and solving problems, growing development and opportunities. Top five, bottom five. Bottom five, that’s actually familiar, most important, prefer money over time, longing for tradition and happy spending. So, we are hearing no kind of a we are hearing and I can relate to that. Because I’ve been to various conferences, I’ve looked at papers and most of the times we are saying that the Gen Z coming is looking for opportunities, experiences, development, and they are really angry around that. And then in the bottom is typically no more of a, my, my work life balance and money. Then, with my team, we started doing research not just two weeks ago, on Gen Z thinking, Okay, let’s do our own job. Let’s show that we can do it too. So, we started to build a persona around Gen Z. And as part of the technique to build one person now we are doing qualitative interviews. So, the qualitative interviews, two nights ago, I was in an interview with a young chap in Paris, in the fashion industry telling me all about his life. And I was listening very carefully. And then when I say what’s your motivation to work? Yeah, it’s true experience, know what’s number one, the number two was money. Interesting, because that’s not what we are taught. Then you know, I for the anecdotes, I started to look at okay, what’s the quantitative coming back to you? And so, I exchanged with one of my colleagues know who is in Dublin and said, Are you gay? You can’t believe it. The first answer we got on what is it that’s important for you in a job is money. The second then the second person replies, compensation and cash. The third person replies to money, and I mean, be different to anyone else? Or is it that the world has just become so greedy about money? What happens? And I don’t have the answer. I was surprised by the result, because of all of the research that we have been taught, and I’m not suggesting the research is wrong, I’m just saying, Is there something that has happened in the last one year or two years or COVID, that has somehow shifted those previous researches that has been done, which were focused on development and opportunities, and we’ve seen it in large organizations, to something a little bit more trivial, that people are just saying, you know, what, what I want is progression and money. It was progression, and money. The other word one progression. And so, were we any different when we were younger? I wonder, and I don’t think we were I don’t think that you know, anyone actually can say, because we are hit the chin, a very large to a large degree, the life cycle of life. When, you know, we are aspiring to be those people that know or are there in the world, they are not RP groups, they are seen more senior, more, you know, kind of a wealthy etc. When we then move and we start having responsibilities, like, you know, taking your mortgage, maybe having kids or whatever, you know, people doing life, then suddenly the shift the responsibility and sense of what’s important in life might change. But that might not be just related to generation, it might just be related to, to where we are in life now. However, I was still quite surprised that I wish we can complete the research now and publish it because to be honest, I think we need to learn I think we need to really hear that generation and what is driving them? Are the work needs to adapt to them? Probably, to a certain extent, no, because of the access to tech and information. With us, we’ll see. So that’s been a bit Meier, the reference I was sharing with you earlier.

Graeme Cowan 46:51 

Very, very interesting to see how that that plays out. You’re obviously very engaged in life. And your love learning, that’s very obvious. How do you switch off? How do you restore your own spirit? How do you– what sort of things are good for your self-care?

Olivier Dubuisson 47:16 

Spending you all that question, Graeme, because I was reflecting on it. And I would say, okay, so I don’t think I do enough. Let’s be clear, into caring about myself. And there have been some events that taught me a lot more recently than previously. So, I’ve always been very driven, very full of energy, very focused on work, and family as well. But work has been a big part of my life, and therefore, you know, kind of through the passion, I’m sure you can hear the passion. It’s been kind of a, let’s go all in. In every venture, that I’ve had a chance to lead, you know, when I was doing this luxury goods venture, we were out at events, actually, even the family joined, and I had different times to disconnect, than most people will see time to disconnect. No, it’s not like watching a movie or reading a book, you know, etc. Do disconnect, but in other ways, like, you know, spending time with my son or spending time with my wife. And that really has helped me to continue to grow. But then there was a moment in life when maybe it’s relevant for me to share something which I’ve always had from a very young age from obesity. And, and since I get right, and when I was 16 years old, I was weighing 127 kilos. And so, you can imagine, right that life that does teach you a few things, because you are different to other people. No, and I will not say I’ve been bullied. But yes, I was called up big potato, blah, blah, blah. I mean, you know, it’s like, everything that you hear from no kind of stigmas stick, stick meds from schools and stuff. Yeah, it’s true, it happens. No, kids are horrible. And that’s fine. You move in life, but that creates a certain element of being protected, and you create strategies to protect yourself. Now, as I moved on in life, when I was 26, I did a big effort to try to reduce that obesity problem by focusing on my nutrition and focusing on my health, and with some support of some specialists in Belgium, did that fantastically lost 40 kilos has never been happy in my life with my wife, you know, it’s completely changed my life. But what happened after that is that I experience two moments where I started to gain weight again, and those moments were related to work and stress. One of the most recent one was the 2016 to 2019 when I was leading the employee experience team at BP, we were doing a major transformation changing the entire way we worked at BP including the systems including the business model for HR, etc. So, it was a large program. During that time, I started to food was kind of a and especially sugary food was kind of a refuge for stress levels that I was exposed to. And so, I started to gain weight again. And so, I then ended up being in a position where when you are morbidly obese, and you are 40, no, you, the people are looking around you, and they say, maybe you should do something about it. And then two years ago, I met with a professor, which really changed my life, and I think developed these strategies to protect myself even more know and to take care of myself more. And that has been a bit of a shock moments in life. No, so I lost 65 kilos since then. And I am I’m even, I’m driving, but something has changed in me, which means that no, I take I think I value life very differently to what I used to value life differently. No, that’s my journey. And I don’t pretend that anyone will go through that journey or, you know, suggests knowing that I look for care or compassion. Just know, just hear me out. That’s been my life journey. And now I realize that life is more important than what maybe I was qualifying it before. But when you are in this moment, and you realize it, you are suddenly taking a lot more care about yourself. So oh, I disconnect, I do sports. And once a week, I have a sports coach, that no, it’s costing me a bomb, but actually, I like it. Because it pushes me in the thinking, and I do nothing else at that moment, then just focus on myself and focus on my strengths. And, and he’s there and pushing me crazy. But I love that even if it hurts actually, physically that because it’s kind of hurting other muscles, it’s actually a way for me to disconnect from a very busy life where I don’t make much difference between working in personal life. Another strategy that they’ve applied is different nutrition programs. So instead of eating three times a day, I eat six times a day, I eat a lot of proteins, that’s been kind of suggested to me because of what I’ve experienced, and to be able to maintain. And I think that’s really how I somehow find an equilibrium into this very full life of mine. But I did– it did remind me something is that, you know, there’s nothing more important than health.

Graeme Cowan 52:21 

Thank you for sharing that story. It’s a wonderful to hear that journey and how you’ve come through it. It’s been so lovely catching up today, I always finish with one question. And that question, maybe you’ve covered a bit in that last bit of discussion, but you know, reflecting on your life, knowing what you know, now, what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self. Now, if you go back in time, knowing what you know now, and with care, you that personal advice?

Olivier Dubuisson 52:57 

I think I would seek the guy and know, and I would say look, you think that ambition is everything. And that you will succeed because of what you are experiencing with that. And they’re not the passion will be the motor and the fuel engine that will make it work. I would say, just be gentle to your own self. And actually, probably say do something you love. Because you might do different terms by doing that, than what you know, I have done you might achieve something different of all but do something you love as opposed to try to progress just for the sake of progression or ambition. And you will be happy. That’s what I will say to my young self.

Graeme Cowan 53:43 

And more great advice. Thank you so much for the time today, Olivier. It’s been yeah, wonderful chat, and very, very interesting. Just hearing about the future of working. Thanks for being part of The Caring CEO.

Olivier Dubuisson 53:57 

Absolutely, Graeme, thank you so much for inviting me.

Graeme Cowan 54:01 

Excellent. Thanks so much. That was really great. We covered some lots of territory, which is always, you know, really, really fascinating. I think as a former Headhunter I really, I just love exploring people’s lives and the decisions they make along the way so yes, that’s been great. So, I realize it’s just the start of your day but I really had a great day.

Olivier Dubuisson 54:29 

Thank you, Graeme. I really appreciate that is the end of your day. So, you want in the future. I keep that position. You know I’m very envious and jealous that you know you I can always look at you and saying oh my gosh, this guy is already in the future when I’m talking about the future.

Graeme Cowan 54:45 

Good stuff.

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