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Rachida El-Jastimi, HR Services General Manager: an example of women’s leadership

By: Marie-Claire Asseko
March 8, 2017

Rachida worked for 15 years alongside great entrepreneurs in the biotechnology industry. She learned key management concepts that she now applies in her position at GardaWorld.

It is GardaWorld’s corporate culture, built on an entrepreneurial spirit, that motivated Rachida to join the company in 2014 as General Manager of the new business unit – GardaWorld HR Services. She shared what helps her face up to daily professional challenges with us in the interview below.

What is GardaWorld HR Services?

HR Services was born out of the needs of GardaWorld’s clients for non-security staff. From financial institutions to distribution centres to office towers, our clients had to fill different positions: administrative assistants, receptionists, accountants, and so on. HR Services’s mission is to headhunt qualified people to meet these companies’ needs. Our clients include SMEs and corporations. We strive to develop long-term partnerships based on understanding their expectations and selecting the right talent to meet them. In fact, our strength is our close relationships with both our talents and our clients. On one hand, we do not only offer these talents a job. By providing them with training and tools necessary to be ambassadors of excellence to our clients, we are convinced that they will develop their potential and their careers. By regularly following up with our clients, we stay ahead of any change in their needs and operational challenges. Thus, we are able to provide them with a personalized and continuously improving service. Essentially, we believe that there is no such thing as a bad employee, just a wrong assignment of the employee.

How was the transition from biotechnology to recruitment solutions?

I was fortunate to be surrounded by excellent mentors during my career. So, while coming from another industry, I wanted to take on the challenge and put my managerial skills to the test in a large company such as GardaWorld. Today, I sincerely believe that this is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

What skills have allowed you to evolve in your career?

Of course, my university studies and my MBA have have taught me how to manage leadership positions: I developed an analytical and practical mindset that allows me to approach processes in a holistic way. However, what still helps me to this day is to keep reassessing myself in order to do better, think outside the box, and not be afraid of contesting the status quo. Indeed, questioning business practices is at the heart of continuous improvement.

Having a vision and knowing how to successfully pass it along to a team are also two very important leadership skills. A leader must be a communicator. My scientific education has given me a strong sense of autonomy and I try to teach that to my teams by training them to be autonomous and responsible faced with complex challenges. It will allow them to become flexible, effective and innovative in project management.

Finally, leading a team is not risk-free. A good leader knows how to measure and take the appropriate risks, as much as she bears the responsibility and consequences of her actions. A leader must also absorb the pressure and organizational changes happening outside of her team in order to preserve the balance and the morale of her people.

What are the main obstacles you faced? How did you overcome them?

GardaWorld is known for its security solutions, including security guards and cash transportation services. My goal since I started working for the company is to ensure that GardaWorld is recognized for its recruiting solutions as well. This is not an easy task because HR Services is not part of the core business of the company. I had to persevere and be resilient when no one wanted to give HR Services a chance in the market: we had to demonstrate our added value both within the organization and externally. All these efforts have paid off as we are expanding to the rest of Canada today.

Another challenge, but also a topic dear to my heart, is to keep my team motivated to give their 200%. I have the opportunity to work with great people who love their work, even under pressure. It is my duty as a leader to enable them to learn and evolve to meet their professional goals through GardaWorld HR Services’ mission. This is reflected in the quality of our service and the satisfaction of our customers.

What advice would you give to women who want to succeed in an organizational environment that is constantly changing?

Each of us, man or woman, must learn not only to tame change but also to embrace it. No one can afford to be reluctant to change as in the workplace change is the rule not the exception. It is up to you to decide if you want to be part of it, or withdraw. For women to succeed in their careers, we must be autonomous, visionary, and innovative. We should not hesitate to ask questions and take concrete actions as well.

What is the future of the HR Services division and its potential for expansion in Canada?

HR Services offers a wide range of services ranging from the recruitment of permanent employees to the reinforcement of staff during peak periods. In 2014, we had only one client. In 2017, we have served more than 200 clients in financial, industrial, logistics and IT industries among others. HR Services has recently started catering to companies in Ontario, and opening other offices will follow. My goal is for GardaWorld to become the Canadian leader in recruitment solutions!