Meet the Member: Alexis Martin, French Desk Director, YER

Member news | August 03, 2020

In this 'Meet the Member' feature, we interviewed FACC-NY Member Alexis Martin, French Desk Director at YER USA.

Since arriving in the U.S. in 2003, Alexis has been dedicated to helping European companies set up or expand their U.S. operations and organizations which have entailed subsidiaries, facilities, and factories. Alexis offers consulting throughout the recruitment process and can assist your company in developing the best strategies to retain and attract key talents for your local organization.

Keep reading to learn from Alexis's profound understanding and experience in weathering these challenging times while preparing for the rebound…

FACC-NY: Can you help us understand the immediate changes in the recruitment landscape in light of 2020’s events?

What we have experienced the most is passive candidates becoming much more active in the job market. We, therefore, have seen a higher response rate when reaching out to candidates for specific roles we are working on. This is mainly due to two factors:

  • Large layoffs or furloughs in industries most impacted by the current crisis (loss of business or necessary shift in a new direction to prepare for the future)
  • Employees, managers & executives are now more open to considering other opportunities, especially knowing that remote working means geography is no longer a constraint.

On the other hand, we have seen employers freezing hires and understandably focusing on employee retention, government program applications (such as PPP), while having to still deal with day-to-day challenges with much fewer people on staff.

After nearly 4 months of COVID in the US, I feel this is becoming to change as employers start to adapt to a new normal, move forward with new strategies, and understand the opportunity of a larger talent pool available.

FACC-NY: Do you have any advice for small European companies looking to grow in the U.S. during these unique times?

Obviously growth is a good challenge to have right now as most companies are facing a rough 2020 and looking to prepare for a rebound in 2021. That being said, understanding the new playing field and preparing to quickly jump onto new market opportunities will be key for any successful businesses in the US, maybe even more so for global companies with US entities.

First, we know most consumers have changed their pattern of consumption to buy online, but this digitalization of the sales process applies also to B-to-B where interactions, negotiations, and deals get closed over Zoom, Teams, Hangout, platforms most managers have now adopted as the new rules of engagement. Companies can now easily consider reorganization of existing teams across multiple local and global locations, prepare to reskill talents to new roles, and contemplate hiring new candidates they could never attract to their physical offices. With that in mind, the company's culture, vision, and benefits offered become even more critical to retain and attract talents than before.

Second, US entities of European companies have faced disruption in the global supply chain combined with massive government stimulus which will most likely lead to pressure to manufacture closer to the client base, partner with more diversified and financially strong supplier network, and therefore rethink pricing and competition. In this environment, looking into M&A opportunities, shifting production to key SKUs, and shorten the supply chain could help companies move faster into their new normal, or adapt to launch a new business model.

FACC-NY: Based on your robust professional experiences, what have become your top priorities as the French Desk Director at YER USA?

For the past few months, I have been focused on helping US entities of French companies understand stimulus package are available in the US for their US entities under the PPP Program and directing them to the right experts or other companies I know have been successful in getting loans. I have tried to put in touch Managing Directors of US subsidiaries in similar industries so they can share best practices, opportunities, and struggles. I must say I have been amazed by the positive attitude of most leaders I talk to.

Since June, most jobs that were on hold have also been reopened and we are now moving forward with clients on searches for candidates that fit the new strategy in place or can strengthen their existing operations in the US.

FACC-NY: In your opinion, what are a couple of the most important best practices in U.S. subsidiary management?

I would say one of the most important success factors for a US subsidiary is that the executives on both sides of the Atlantic are engaged in the success of the group and the North American region. There is so much potential here but the investment to access and compete in a market as big (geography and business) as the whole European union requires the buy-ins and support of the whole group.

On a more practical note, the employment-at-will in the US creates a very dynamic job market which is very challenging to understand for European firms with much stronger labor protections. It results in a must needed adaptation of management and company culture as well as a good understanding of competitive salary and benefits offered to be seen as an attractive employer. With that in mind, it is key to find local candidates who value the history and growth potential of a smaller organization rather than offering just more compensation. Luckily companies have a large pool of talents to look into.

FACC-NY: How would you like to see the industries in which you work in grow in the next few years? Any predictions?

I feel there will always be a need for the expertise we provide and the time we save for our clients. It seems that digitalization of the sourcing of candidates is possible as more and more metrics can be gathered from individuals and artificial intelligence can help improve the process but the key element of our role is still the human interaction. I am a strong believer that when we have a good shortlist of candidates, our clients choose the one they want to work with every day and that is usually based on their personality and attributes that would fit the team and the role. Skills can always be taught and learned.

FACC-NY: What propelled you to join the FACC-NY network?

I have been a member of the FACC for 15 years now. Thanks to facilitated connections between members, networking and learning events, the FACC helped me grow into the professional I am now helping US entities of foreign and mostly French companies succeed in the US. I know people I have met will remain mentors and friends for the many years to come.

Interested in connecting with Alexis? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message.