Conference: 24 – 25 February 2020 | Workshops: 23, 26 & 27 February 2020 |Ritz-Carlton DIFC Dubai, UAE

Hanadi El Sayyed is part of the Social Media Squad for SHRM Tech EMEA. She had the opportunity to chat with our keynote speaker, Mark Levy, Head of Employee Experience, Allbirds; Former CHRO, AirBnB

Mark Levy - Keynote Speakers | SHRM Tech EMEA

Hanadi Hi Mark, it is my absolute privilege to connect with a thought leader like you! I’m a big fan of your work at Airbnb and Allbirds, the employees’ testimonies about what it’s like to work for both organizations speak volumes why these companies are so successful in what they do. Leaders who put happiness in the workplace, employee wellness, learning, working smarter at the heart of their business strategies realize that’s the only way to work in the future. As a human capital professional extremely passionate about CX and EX as fundamental pillars to business success I am thrilled that I have this opportunity to hear it from the man himself.

With that, I have tons of questions to ask but will try to limit it to a few…


Hanadi What is a ‘big hearted’ company? and why are such companies successful?

Mark: “Big hearted means a company that thinks beyond profitability. A big hearted company typically starts with a thoughtful mission and values, along with a leader who is focused on ensuring the culture and organizational health are enabling their diverse population of employees to be their best selves. These companies are successful as they energize, engage and empower their employees to be part of something bigger – more than their job! They support their employees to get involved with the customer and the community, and collectively to make the world a better place. This means employees who are closer to the business and who typically have stronger engagement and lower retention.


Hanadi You disrupted HR by pioneering the design of employee experience at Airbnb. What were the learning and how did you apply it at Allbirds to scale up business, people and culture?

Mark: “This is the basis of my presentation at SHRM Tech EMEA 2019. So, will leave this to get the answers there


Hanadi: The future of work is already upon us, how equally fast do you think companies are responding to the softer side of the workplace – culture and employee happiness?

Mark: “Companies are handling this very differently. Either embracing it and figuring out ways to work across up to five generations, to be more inclusive, to focus on bringing humanity to the workplace and think about the whole person, some are trying to make this change, and others are scared- of technology, of AI, of Millennials and are struggling with how to attract, retain and engage their workforce. It is not rocket science to shift towards an approach to do things with and for your employees, not to them, and to co-create the future of the company together. There are fears of losing power, entitlement and/or increased costs.


Hanadi: Now the big question going around – do you think robots are going to take our jobs?

Mark: “I hope so. It would be great if AI and Robots could take the jobs that are transactional, that do not require one to think or be challenged. That would free us humans up to do the more interesting, the more emotional, the more exciting roles of the future. We will always have people in the workforce. People are messy. Leaders, coaches, and advocates will always be an essential part of the workplace.

Hanadi: What do you recommend for startups and small businesses as opposed to large corporates to thrive in this rapidly changing world of work? How significantly important is Employee Experience to each if they want to be part of the future?

Mark: “I would suggest that every small company/start up not hire one person until they go through the exercise of creating their 10 year vision. What kind of company do they want to be? How will they measure success? What are the mission and values? What differentiates them from others? And then be maniacal about how they progress in that direction. Putting guardrails in place to be sure they use the right filters to make decisions no matter how small or large

Hanadi: I’m grateful to you Mark for taking the time to answer these questions. Hope to meet you in person at the conference

Mark Levy will be speaking at SHRM Tech EMEA. Download the brochure to find out more about his session