In another interview about competence management in world class traditional manufacturing companies, we talked with the Vice President of Human Resources at Alfa Laval. The company, which now has about 16,400 employees and works closely with customers in nearly 100 countries, manages to stay ahead in the global arena by innovating and managing competence development.

As stated by Alfa Laval, the company is driving this change through a process of repeated inspections, education, coaching, and commercial pressure. The company tries to improve the working conditions for its suppliers’ workers at a significantly faster rate than other enterprises in the same social environment.

During the interview Mr. Vejlgaard, told us how the company puts focus on attracting talents and how it prepares the management for the digital transformation. For the company which puts emphasis on changing the way companies act within society, sustainability goes along with the digitalization and the improvement of a business climate.

Q: Mr Vejlgaard, what worries you the most when it comes to your human capital management strategy?

We have a very high focus on attracting the right talents, including millennials. But this can be a challenge if we do not change our way of thinking and how we position the company from an employer branding position. We need to get the right message to the right people.

It’s important for us to look on talent acquisition with a focus on hiring for competence and talent, and not just for knowledge.

Alfa Laval places a lot of emphasis on training and development of employees. Moreover, sustainability and improving suppliers’ social conditions takes central place on the agenda of company’s boards.

Q: Do you think that Alfa Laval as a brand, is appealing to younger generations?

To be honest I am not quite sure.

Not so much because of what we offer but more due to the general perception of our industry and perhaps because of our anonymity from an employer branding perspective. We have for a long time relied on our strong position on the market and been able to attract the best talents based on that. Those days are over and the competition for talent comes from all directions. We need to find the right channels with the right messages to keep or strengthen our position on the market.

Q: How competency management can address HR Needs?

We have worked with competence profiles and competence management for several years.

To be able to take the right decisions regarding our learning programs and other development activities it’s important to have valid and reliable data.

This is difficult without a structured way of working with competence.

Alfa Laval Group organizes the Alfa Laval Acedemy, which is an umbrella term for all training activities for company’s employees. While many research and development centers and business units are located in Sweden and Denmark, where, extensive trainings are also conducted in other parts of the world.

Q: Do you organize cross-functional trainings for employees at Alfa Laval to upskill or enhance their custom competencies?  

We have many cross-functional programs, e.g. for people within Sales or leadership, but also for our specialist in various areas.

All our managers need to be trained for the shift brought by the Industry 4.0, so we are planning these we are planning these trainings at the moment.

Q: Do you need to train your HR executives to better understand the shift brought by Industry 4.0 and digital transformation?

I believe we need to train all our managers in this, not just within HR. It’s certainly on our agenda and we are planning for these trainings at the moment.

Interview conducted by Iva Danilovic