// Add the new slick-theme.css if you want the default styling

HR Perspectives: Evolution and Innovation #1

At Lincoln, we are passionate about the evolution of the HR profession and the innovations transforming this crucial role within companies. As part of our article series, we explore these transformations with Véronique de Watrigant, Head of Practice HR at Lincoln. Each article features a conversation with a renowned HR Director, offering a dual perspective thanks to Véronique’s expertise.

For this first article, we delve into the challenges of transitioning between a large corporation and an industrial start-up with Frédéric Julien, Chief People Officer at Ynsect. Interviewed by Véronique de Watrigant, they share their insights on the challenges and strategies for adapting HR practices in a high-growth environment. Through their discussions, we discover how Frédéric navigated this transition and the innovative solutions he implemented to manage human resources in this context.

Veronique: How has your role as HR Director evolved at Ynsect? And how did you manage the transition from your background in large corporations to an industrial start-up like Ynsect?

Frederic: Indeed, I came from highly structured, large corporations known for their strong maturity, numerous processes, and ‘best in class’ human resources, to arrive at Ynsect during the middle of a Series C funding round, the third round of raising hundreds of millions of euros.

*A Series C for a startup is the third phase of funding, during which it raises funds from institutional investors to accelerate its growth and expansion.

Ynsect faced multiple and complex challenges: hyper-growth, unprecedented industrial processes, international development, a need for professionalisation in many areas, and a frugal context. As HR Director, I made some structuring decisions in the first three months, both thoughtfully and instinctively, which were unprecedented compared to my previous roles.:

  • Prioritising usefulness to the business over being “best in class” and focusing on key development areas during the first year.
  • Developing an HR vision with a structured roadmap, progressively organising in a logical sequence.
  • Building a team of versatile HR professionals capable of handling a wide range of topics.
  • Finding economical yet effective solutions.
  • Developing a social policy with strong markers, aligning with Ynsect’s innovative culture without attempting to address every possible issue.

Véronique: Do you think there is a real difficulty in transitioning from a structured environment to a startup? This is a question we frequently discuss with our clients when creating HR Director roles in growing organisations.

Frederic: On the contrary, coming from a large corporation is highly relevant, but I adapted and showed pragmatism. Ultimately, I appreciated positioning the HR strategy very differently from what I had done and known in previous roles. Additionally, having a comprehensive view of all available HR tools enabled me to effectively integrate new processes tailored to Ynsect.




Veronique: You mentioned a targeted and rather innovative HR policy. What can you highlight, particularly in talent management?

Frederic: First, we aimed to establish a framework addressing the company’s challenges. Our priority was to integrate, train, and retain hundreds of employees in multiple countries during a phase of hyper-growth within an industrial startup with diverse roles. We created Chrysalis, our job school, offering a unique 6-day onboarding experience with innovative pedagogy. Collaborators learn everything about the company through internal trainers, quizzes, role-playing, games, visits, and tests. This integration process helped form cohesive groups of new hires. To date, Chrysalis has trained 222 employees, developed 10 modules for managers and specific industrial roles, and achieved Qualiopi certification.

Regarding recruitment, we faced two challenges for our vertical plant in Amiens: selecting candidates with specific skills and hiring individuals distant from the labour market, as requested by our financial partners, the region, and the metropolis, in line with our values. We decided to recruit operator positions without CVs, using situational and simulation exercises created in partnership with Pole Emploi. The result: we successfully recruited about twenty individuals furthest from the labour market, including seniors, who were perfectly suited to the positions.

Veronique: For some very scarce profiles, CV-less recruitments are becoming more common. We have several examples with our clients. How did you support this population, and what was the outcome?

Frederic: The result is positive; turnover is low, and the plant is meeting target! There is real pride for the HR teams and managers: it contributes to our innovation and social DNA!

Veronique: You mentioned your social policy. Have you been innovative?

Frederic: Yes, I think so. We have worked on the following topics:

  • Extending paternity leave to 10 weeks
  • Employee shareholding, quite complex for a startup where it is challenging to take traditional financial vehicles, we innovated. 80% of eligible employees became shareholders
  • Creation of a Ynsect minimum wage of 25K€ annually, revaluing some collaborators salary
  • Commitment to gender diversity: almost equal pay by category, 0.1-point difference
  • We have created a school for different trades

To conclude, I strongly believe that we can be both social and economic/business-oriented; one cannot work without the other. Both are possible: it motivates me and aligns with Ynsect’s DNA!

In conclusion, Frédéric Julien, transitioning from structured large corporations to a high-growth industrial startup, adapted his HR management strategies pragmatically. His decisions were guided by utility for the company’s development, implementing innovative HR policies such as Chrysalis for onboarding new employees and CV-less recruitment for operator positions. Additionally, social initiatives like extending paternity leave and employee shareholding reflect Ynsect’s deep commitment to its employees. This approach, focused on efficiency and innovation, mirrors Ynsect’s DNA and contributes to its success!