All you wanted to know about Carrefour’s digital transformation: exclusive interview with Jérôme Nanty, Executive Director Human Resources at Carrefour Group.
Hi Jérôme! We are really excited to have you on Horizons by Carrefour today! Before we deepdive into Carrefour’s digital transformation, I’d like to start with a couple of “Horizons special ice breakers” in order to get to know you a bit more.
When you look at the horizon, what activity -in your spare time- would you like to start?
Jérôme Nanty: I am genuinely passionate about golf and I spend most of my free time playing. In the future, I would like to learn to fly.
What is the sunshine, whether it is professional or personal, that makes you wake up in the morning with a big smile?
Jérôme Nanty:Intensity. That’s what makes life interesting, especially professionally wise. I’d rather have a day full of twists and turns than a “flavorless” day. There always comes a time when you have to make a complicated decision. You have to arbitrate, make choices. That’s what I like.
And what are the grayish clouds that make you want to stay in bed?
Jérôme Nanty: If I know that I will not have enough challenges in my day or that I will not meet anyone interesting. But, it never happens!
A career is a bit like a constellation of professional experiences. Reflecting about your professional journey before Carrefour, which one would you choose?
Jérôme Nanty: I was the SNCM supervisory board’s Chairman, the Corsica-Mediterranean maritime company. The company was in difficulty and we had to fight to save it. After leading such a complicated file, everything then seems more measured.
I will also mention the merger between Crédit Agricole and Crédit Lyonnais. At the time, I was in charge of labor relations for both groups. I learned a lot. It was the experience that gave me the most structure personally.
Now that we know a bit more about you, let’s talk about your current role! You have been Carrefour Group Executive Director Human Resources since October 2017. Five years later, what are you most proud of?
Jérôme Nanty: When a group employs 320,000 people, it deserves to have the best HR function. This is what I have been working on every day since I arrived, and I think the results are visible. If I have one thing to be particularly proud of, it would be the success in carrying out major transformation programs, by instilling the idea of permanent change, with a good quality of social dialogue, and by involving the stakeholders as early as possible.
Among these changes, I will mention “diversity” in our headquarters. Not only in terms of ethnic origins, the balance between men and women, or the proportion of disabled workers, but also in terms of career paths. At some point, if you want to do things differently, you need new faces with different profiles.
We bought together the profiles of pure-retailers with people with fresh perspectives. This is a key asset to transform our group!
The past years were quite unique because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Did you see our company evolving?
Jérôme Nanty: This crisis has shaken us up. It has forced us to adapt, to surpass ourselves, and it has changed our relationship to work. Of course, not all jobs have been affected in the same way.
Our store employees experienced weeks of pure madness back in March 2020: a rush on commodities, a worldwide shortage of protective equipment, etc. Even with masks on they managed to find a balance in their work and give their best.
As for our employees in the headquarters, they found themselves at home full time overnight. Telecommuting has brought out differences: living in an apartment in the city or in a house in the countryside, with or without children… The workplace definitely helps to erase these differences. This is why I believe that the workplace holds an essential place.
For me, the main evolution is the autonomy given to individuals. The unity of time and place in the company has disappeared. For example, not everyone comes at the same time in the morning. It is impossible to go back on this flexibility, and that’s fine.
On the other hand, this implies taking up two challenges. The first is technological: we will have to succeed in managing hybrid formats, with one part of our employees onsite and the other working remotely. The second challenge is managerial: we have to move away from management by proximity, by looking at people, to invent new ways of working based on trust, i.e. outcome-driven. The IT and technology professions are ahead of the game here.
Would you say retail is being revolutionized by digital? How?
Jérôme Nanty: Digitalization is a challenge for Carrefour, as it is for any company: for example, how can I digitize my HR tools to make them more efficient and offer a better experience to end-users? On the other hand, digital is also revolutionizing our business model. That’s the difficulty, but also the opportunity of digital for us, which makes it exciting.
No matter what Carrefour decides, online shopping will continue to grow. The customer has taken back control of his consumption. The world has changed and our business has been disrupted. We have no choice but to adapt and to lead.
What is the importance of people in our digital transformation?
Jérôme Nanty: To lead a digital transformation, you need experts. Recruiting them is a challenge, because they are in high demand. Salary is not their only criteria. We have to listen to their expectations and change our mentalities. They no longer believe in the “I join a company and spend my whole career there” model. We have to accept that they come and go, without a manager or colleague seeing this as a betrayal.
Secondly and most importantly, a digital transformation is first and foremost a cultural transformation. It is therefore everyone’s business! We cannot have a physical and traditional Carrefour on one side, and a digital, glamorous and modern Carrefour on the other. The whole company must be on board, sailing on the same boat and having the same course.
How can we spread a digital culture in the whole company, both in stores and headquarters?
Jérôme Nanty: Before answering, I would like to share an interesting fact. In France, our store employees have “meal tickets”. Since this year, the paper format has been replaced by the Swile service. Our employees were given the choice between taking a chip card or adopting a 100% digital format via an app. 93% of them opted for this second option. So the digital maturity is there.
Our challenge is to make them aware of our digital transformation; in particular, our businesses that do not see – in the immediate future – any concrete translation of digital into their daily professional life. We have to start by giving them the keys to understanding: “What is the blockchain?”, “What is the metaverse?
This is the purpose of our DigitalRetail Academy. It will train all of our teams, whether they are in stores, in warehouses, or at headquarters, at a rate of about 100,000 employees per year. The training will focus on digital commerce, technology and data.
In addition, we have also signed a partnership with Meta to equip ourselves with a tool for communicating with each other: Workplace. Each of our 320,000 employees will thus be linked to the same internal social network. This is a first in the history of our Group.
Carrefour is evolving fast, with many new talents joining during your mandate as HR Executive Director. What is your secret recipe to attract digital talent? Especially now, given the scarcity of digital resources in the market.
Jérôme Nanty: Tell them the truth, that they are going to experience one of the most exciting transformations of recent years. Today, when candidates go for an interview, they are perfectly aware of this. They know about Carrefour’s ambitions and our desire to become a DigitalRetail Company.
It’s not surprising, because the impetus was given at the highest level, by Alexandre Bompard himself. It is not common to have a CEO that talks a lot about digital, tech, cloud and data. The Digital Day last November showed this again. This has a very strong impact in terms of recruitment. When I conduct an interview, most of the work has already been done beforehand. All I have to do is “offer the candidate an adventure”.
From now on, the employees who join us know that they are going to work on very concrete subjects, to satisfy the customer, to lead the food transition and to make Carrefour a DigtalRetail Company.
To sum up, what is your view on the top-3 initiatives to ensure the success of Carrefour’s digital transformation?
Jérôme Nanty: Acculturate & train: make digital technology everyone’s business (DigitalRetail Academy). Equip ourselves with technological tools: encourage exchanges (Workplace), collaborative work (Google Workspace), and enable meetings in hybrid format. Recruit the right profiles: ensure that recruitment follows our ambitions, both in terms of pace and quality.
And last but not least, what makes Carrefour the greatest retail company in the world? 🙂
Jérôme Nanty: Our ability to become a DigitalRetail Company. I take e-commerce as an example, it was first seen as an additional string to our bow. Today, it is an activity that is fully integrated into the business of our stores. The same is true for digital. It is a core part of the company’s strategy.
The Carrefour brand is therefore valuable on the resume of a digital, data or tech expert. Especially since the challenges to be met are proportional to the size of our Group and its international presence. Carrefour is a great school. Joining us is a sure way to be part of an exciting adventure, to gain experience and to develop your expertise.
A big thank you Jérôme for your time, we loved knowing more about you and your vision about the digital transformation!