Rewards as a function is a core strategic topic, undoubtedly critical and essential for organizations.
By Rocking Talent
He has a degree in HR and has focused on the Compensation and Benefits area of several companies such as Arcor, Arcos Dorados and Siemens, where he has a long career. Although he started his career in Argentina, where he was born, he later had the opportunity to move to New York to grow and become Director of Global Compensation. He also went to Germany, where he worked as VP of Rewards and, for more than two years, he has been in Miami. In this interview with Rocking Talent he tells us about his professional journey and the challenges of leading teams with a different language and idiosyncrasy.
Ignacio took on each professional challenge and lived it as a family adventure: “First we moved with my wife, and now we are a family of five! Funny story, our first relocation to NY/NJ was just before our wedding and we were originally supposed to have our honeymoon in NYC, but we ended up moving and living there for five years! I always make the joke that we are in a never-ending honeymoon, as we also traveled and lived in other great cities like Munich, Germany, and now in South Florida”, explains Ignacio, and adds that, professionally, he is a very lucky person for being able to work with diverse teams across countries and cultures.
“The learning and development you get with these experiences are very hard to match. The other day we were counting the nationalities of the 10 members of our team in Orlando and we counted eight different nationalities, creating such a powerful and diverse collaboration! From a Rewards perspective, learning and working on regional and global topics also provide a lot of perspectives. Some challenges and priorities can be shared across the globe, but there are so many particularities to each market that need to be addressed”, Ros points out.
How do you manage to develop your work in such a global company with a large number of employees?
I think it is essential to understand what the situation of the organization is, its priorities and the context. What are the critical pain points, challenges, needs and future plans. And from there develop a Rewards strategy around those objectives to enable results. As a team, collaboration is what keeps us together. And we try to have fun as well. We are a hybrid team, working from different offices and remote. We try to include everyone. Each time we get together we try to make an event out of it. And while we are connecting remotely, we believe we need some space to connect in different ways, and not just jump direct to agenda items. There are times of intense focus and workloads, and we need to manage that properly to ensure we are all helping each other and collaborating. This also allows us proximity to business leaders and to stay closely aligned.
What is your biggest challenge today and what are your priorities as VP Global Rewards? What actions are you taking to achieve them?
This has truly been a unique year. The combination of so many different topics in such short period of time has created a tension and need for Rewards solutions like no other year. This was the year of the great resignation, inflation soaring like we have not seen in the last forty years, higher interest rates, recession talks, etc. Priorities are a moving target, and we see some organizations investing on higher increase budgets and grants allocations while some are considering hiring freezes. The balance between getting the right talent and paying for it, while maintaining sustainable operations is getting incredibly challenging.
What tools do you use to motivate, retain and reward your employees?
I think today there is an obligation to review and leverage the entire Total Rewards portfolio. Not only pay actions, or bonus or LTI awards will do it. There’s a need to take a step back and rethink the entire value proposition. Development, growth, realization, being happy, all are key areas that are being constantly considered when electing a job. Mental health initiatives, diversity and inclusion, pay transparency are now a must. Rethinking work arrangements, remote work across borders, shorter workweeks, these are all trends that are resonating, and most companies need to rethink their Reward strategy choosing the components and initiatives that can make a difference.
What do you look for when hiring new talent?
For my teams, what I look for is great collaboration and people that are willing to embrace challenges. Rewards as a function is a core strategic topic, undoubtedly critical and essential for organizations. But also, my good friend Steve, who guided and coached me through most of my international movements, taught me that equally important is the fact that as people’s leaders we are in a position to impact our teams forever. Realize how instrumental we can be to enable people to learn, grow, develop, relocate, etc. and support them on their personal and professional journeys, and that’s something I take very seriously.
How do you work for gender equity and diversity in general at Siemens?
This is a priority topic for leadership in Siemens., and we are working hard to embed this conversation into the roots of the decision-making processes when it comes to all talent and team decisions.
Would you like to tell us an anecdote that has inspired you or marked you in your professional career?
After a few years of arriving to the US, I was able to share some of the personal projects I had worked on my own in the past, including the writing of my first Rewards book. Suddenly, we were all joking around about my experience as an “established book author”, which I was so far away from. Regardless, that newly fame landed me in a project joining a team responsible for working in a partnership with Siemens, the White House and the DOJ to write a playbook on apprenticeship programs. Truly an unbelievable experience for me.
You told me you were writing a book, could you tell us what it is about? Have you already written others? What prompted you to do it?
I always found both writing and academic activities to be extra fun. I wrote a few books, from Reward topics to some children’s stories. I was very fortunate to teach classes with one of my professional idols Bernardo Hidalgo in his Compensation and Benefit classes, and I really gained so many tools and resources from that experience. I also toyed around with a little book experiment called “La Receta Salarial”, which was so fun to create. As the Total Rewards arena was so heavily changed at such a rapid pace in these last years, Bernardo and I decided to partner together and take a new look at Rewards today, their connection to the strategy of an organization, how to leverage all Total Rewards components and also what are common elements and practices to consider and leverage in this context. Strategic remunerations are what we will be exploring in the upcoming book we are writing together.
Ignacio Ros | VP Global Rewards at Siemens