Schneider Electric HR leader Deidre Murphy has a global role

Schneider Electric HR leader Deidre Murphy has a global role

 May 25, 2021

Thinking about a global career? Want to know which company can support that aspiration?

Schneider Electric Senior Human Resources leader Deirdre Murphy is a global citizen.

She says that her work life is more akin to punk rock group the Ramone’s song “It’s not my place in the 9 to 5 world” rather than the more conventional picture painted in Dolly Parton’s hit song “Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living.

Deirdre discusses how she transitioned out of a 9 to 5 mindset to thrive within a global role at Schneider Electric due to support from the company's multi-hub model and multi-national culture.

Maintaining a health work-life balance in a global role

Deirdre's career at Schneider Electric began in Sydney where the Australian company she worked for was acquired by Schneider Electric. As her career evolved, it took her around the world. But being plunged into the demands of a global role in a multinational environment like Schneider Electric's is a far cry from working from 9 am to 5 pm each day.

Working across 24 time zones, Deirdre found it increasingly challenging to juggle the round-the-clock demands while still trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It wasn’t sitting well with her personal lifestyle preferences and body rhythm even though she had many colleagues, both in Schneider Electric and elsewhere, who were able to successfully manage global careers from Australia.

Her battle was primarily with her body clock and sleep schedule. "Scientific studies have shown that these are more than just personal preferences but rather an innate and biological predisposition in our physical and mental health that can generally divide people into two types: early birds or night owls. I am a classic example of a morning person, most alert and energetic first thing in the day and known for my uncanny ability to sleep right through movies in the cinema, theatrical shows, and even ear-splittingly loud rock concerts at night," explains Deirdre.

Being based outside of Australia for the past nine years, including in Dubai, Paris, Boston, and Hong Kong, enabled Deirdre to test the impact of multiple time zones on her internal body clock, particularly regarding her metabolism and brain activity. She discovered that it’s possible to adapt and she has managed to do so successfully, shifting from 6:00 am. starts in Boston to late-night working in Hong Kong, for example.

Transitioning from one HQ to a multi-hub model

Something else that’s evolved is Schneider Electric's modus operandi. Schneider Electric's corporate headquarters may sit in Paris but the traditional, centralized role of one HQ in a company’s geography is not what it used to be.

From Deirdre's base in Hong Kong, she works alongside many members of Schneider Electric’s executive committee, including Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, who has been modeling this approach by residing in Hong Kong for over 10 years. Jean-Pascal has long championed this multi-hub model to enable Schneider Electric to be the most truly ‘local’ global company. “I don’t believe very much in corporate offices,” he said many years ago. “I believe in leaders who are with their customers and their people.”

Schneider Electric has been operating this way for more than a decade now, splitting its leadership across primary regional markets in Europe, Asia, and North America. With this model, employees and leaders are more empowered to make decisions that have local benefits, something which has become even more critical as companies and individuals navigate the pandemic.

"Having been based in each of these three key regions, I have experienced them firsthand and witnessed the advantages they deliver. This model empowers our people, supports decentralized decision-making close to our markets and customers, and is a strong enabler for collaboration and innovation," explains Deirdre.

"From an HR perspective, it also helps us attract and retain the best talent from around the world to create highly diverse leadership teams with a true multi-market knowledge and culture. We are in a position to offer equal opportunities for everyone everywhere. I am a great example of this approach. I have been able to grow my career from local HR manager to global SVP, HR leader. This approach also aligns well with our company’s ambitions for sustainability in our global footprint," she adds.

Building a foundation of empowerment for all employees

Deirdre explains that, to make the multi-hub model work, Schneider Electric first needed to ensure it had robust flexibility built into its work policy. Therefore, Schneider Electric launched a Global Family Leave policy which enables all employees to manage their unique life and work requirements. This flexibility extended beyond a culture of smart working. It also incorporated:

  • Workplace flexibility – the ability to work both form the office and home
  • Working hours flexibility – the ability to accommodate life when needed

This policy deepened Schneider Electric's culture of employee empowerment to manage work and life regardless of the time zone they are operating in, helping employees to successfully negotiate the challenges of multiple time zones (for instance, allowing them to say no to a meeting that may not be ‘family friendly’).

"As a senior global leader, I’m expected to be flexible about working inconvenient hours, at times starting very early or working late into the night as required, but by the same token, we are empowered to not do crazy working hours. This is critical for wellbeing and demonstrates a strong respect for us, as employees, to manage our time. I didn’t always get it right," says Deidre.

"At times, there were pangs of guilt if I stepped out in the middle of a workday or left the office at 4 p.m. (to get home in time for evening calls!). I guess I am still strongly conditioned in the old 9-to-5 mindset…In the past, there was also a certain stigma associated with working from home, driven by a fear that we would be less productive when not in the office. But then the world changed. The Covid-19 pandemic hit and the ‘new normal’ evolved…"

Become a global citizen with a career at Schneider Electric 

Schneider Electric's multi-hub model enables employees like Deirdre to thrive in an exciting career than spans global locations - where no two days are the same.

Looking for an international career?

If you have a thirst for adventure and diverse cultures, start your career at Schneider Electric.


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