Frenchman Nico Hadj-Blaha is the Vice President of Sales for Australia and New Zealand at Synchrony Global, a Rizing HCM company.

He’s also one of our hard-working coworkers here at Soda Inc. But it took him a few countries to get here.

He started his tech career in Paris, then moved to London, Sydney and Singapore, before moving to Morrinsville, which Nico said was a bit of an adjustment.

Nico has been with Synchrony Global since 2016. The global company specialises in Human Resources (HR) and Payroll, but they differ from other like-minded companies by using technology as an equaliser – one could say they are the Uber for HR.

“In a nutshell, HR has been very focused on payroll and paying people accurately. Over the last few years the expectation has changed, and HR has evolved.

“The technology people use at home, like Netflix, Uber, and so on, makes people expect the same technology when they walk into their company everyday – so the technology in HR has really changed with that.

“This is where we come in and we help organisations adopt leading edge HR Tech: SAP SuccessFactors. There are different parts to it. As an employee you get a mobile app, see different things about your organisation, monitor your performance, apply for jobs internally, consume some learning content and so on. It really helps a small organisation quickly digitalise a lot of processes that would have otherwise been paper based.

“As a manager it really helps you see some of the information that you wouldn’t have had access to before. You can start to build some reports, start getting some intelligence around trends in the company, like staff headcount or turnover trends. Whereas before you had to rely on a gut feel and you had to make uninformed decisions without understanding what’s really going on in your organisation’s eco-system,” Nico said.

Nico said they were also seeing employees being distributed a lot wider geographically, not just globally but domestically too. An employee could be based in Morrinsville working for an Auckland company, and the cool thing about Synchrony Global was it allowed people to work remotely and have the same interaction with their organisation, whether they were in an office or not.

“So, it really helps from an engagement point of view – technology really is the great equaliser. It’s taking care of the employees’ experience for the employer,” he said.

The company started out of the Philippines before growing in Australia where Nico worked alongside the team before heading up the New Zealand practice.

“We now have offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and as of January we were acquired by a US based group, so we are now part of a larger organisation. That will mean a name change for us and all that exciting stuff. Ultimately it means we will be on track to become the largest SuccessFactors consulting organisation worldwide which is pretty exciting and it’s also a testament to our expertise.

“It’s exciting and HR Tech is changing very fast. One of the things that comes with cloud technology is the frequency of updates. Whereas prior to that there was a lot of excuses to not keep up to date in the HR world. Now our clients’ organisations automatically get access to quarterly innovations and instinctively start a continuous improvement journey that benefits employee and employers alike.

“The biggest challenge we have is never the technology, it’s the cultural change, it’s the willingness to change. Are you ready to say, we aren’t going to do a yearly performance review, we are going to adopt a continuous approach to performance management based on 1-1 meetings? It takes a true leader to help organisations embed such transformational initiatives.”

Rizing HCM now employs over 370 employees globally and Nico said the company is actively recruiting locally in New Zealand.

“I see us growing in Hamilton slowly, when we find the right people, we are certainly looking to grow further.”

Nico heard of the Soda Inc Coworking Space three years ago.

“I was looking to start working from an office instead of working from home. For Synchrony Global I was looking for a creative environment that provided a bit of buzz, I had no interest in us renting a locked-in office of our own that doesn’t have personality. Soda really ticked the box for that. I also really liked the incubation/startup side of Soda, it brings a different level of dynamics.

“The offices themselves are fantastic, they’re fresh, vibrant, modern, and reflects really well when we bring a client in, it looks really professional.

“We’ve been here for a year and half, and had a few more join us since December. We are really enjoying it, that’s why we are increasing our presence here,” Nico said.