Alexandra Bech: People a key lever of success

December 9, 2002, 00:00 CET

Hydro has strengthened its organizational development programs to ensure optimal leveraging of people as one of the key levers of success, executive vice president Alexandra Bech said at Hydros Capital Markets Day in Oslo on Monday. "People skills and competencies have been integral parts of all of Hydros major moves throughout 2002."

Bech also described how the company’s top management is now younger, more international and less male-dominated than just a few years ago. "There has been a real change at the top," she said.

Bech defined Hydro’s People Policy as one of the main tools in developing Hydro’s performance culture. "We intend to ensure a dynamic and open internal job market relating to positions at all levels of the organization, including senior management jobs," she said.

As a result of the major senior management changes in Hydro during the past few years, 44 percent of the company’s sector heads, previously divisional presidents, have a non-Norwegian background and one of them is a woman. There is now one woman in Hydro’s corporate management, and nine of the people who report to directly to corporate anagement are women compared with none in 1999.

During the same period, the average age of corporate management and their closest colleagues has been reduced from 52 to 48.

"The changes have come as a result of a conscious plan to increase diversity in the company and ensure a dynamic senior management," Alexandra Bech said.

Acquisitions and other major changes have raised the total number of Hydro employees to more than 50, 000 in some 60 countries, of whom 63 percent work for Aluminium. More than two thirds of the company’s employees are based outside Norway.

"Hydro’s corporate culture represents a strength, but also a challenge. We are striving to make it more performance orientated while at the same time maintaining traditional Hydro values such as openness and flexibility, a proactive dialogue with employees and the community, as well as equality, respect and responsible business practices," said Bech.

"Important instruments in developing a performance culture are leader development programs, an active use of compensation policy, an open, internal job market and professional change management," added Bech.