[INTERVIEW] CEO INTERVIEW: Mrs. Ellen Hagan - L’AINE Services Ltd - Human Resources Services
L’AINE Services Ltd offers human resource services such as outsourcing, payroll, transportation services, CV preparation, interview grooming, recruitment, training, career counseling, salary surveys, organizational development and the publication of a human resource magazine, HR Focus.
Congratulations! How did you feel when you found out you were the Marketing Woman of the year? What was your initial reaction?
Thank you very much. It is indeed an honour. My initial reaction? I was simply bowled over with joy; I was elated, excited and wanted to tell everybody all at once about the awards.
Just recently, you won an award in Geneva and this is the 4th to be received by L’AINE in the month of September. How do you feel about these awards and what do they mean to you?
B.I.D. International Gold Star for Quality Award: This is an international award and it is quite overwhelming to be recognized globally. I kept asking the question “how did they find us?” This award was given to us “in recognition of L’AINE’S commitment to quality, excellence, leadership, technology, innovation and our representation of success for Ghana in the business world.” To us, being recognized for excellence is the realization of our company vision; “To be the leading Human Resource company in Ghana as well as across the borders of Ghana, practically meeting human resource needs with excellence and commitment.”
Club 100: Everybody in Ghana is aware that being a part of this prestigious group means your company has been taken seriously, especially where good governance and growth are concerned. Being first timers in Ghana Club 100 and making a ranking of 50 is a feat that exceeds our expectation.
CIMG Print advert of the year-2011: For us, this award symbolizes recognition in our ability to be creative. We echo what Banbulu said in “This is our chance” – “This is the child of my brain, the product of my endeavours and the materialization of my inventive genius”…. Seriously though, the CIMG brand is highly respected and this award means a lot to us, especially since this advert was created in-house, by the marketing team.
CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year – 2011. For me, this award is the ultimate. I know a lot of women work hard, but to be singled out for this recognition is something I am very happy about.
Being a recipient of these prestigious awards, what is it about the way you do business that makes you such a strong role model for business women?
For 18years, I have played a key role in raising the standards of HR in Ghana with tailor-made services I have introduced through L’AINE.
L’AINE’S success story has been founded on our values. Values are the organization’s navigational tools deployed in guiding strategy and business direction and which create a compelling place to work.
Integrity: we do the right thing, and not only when someone is watching.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: We focus on our customers and have come to believe that going beyond satisfying them and delighting them is the essence of our work.
TEAMWORK: We believe each member of the team adds value, and each person is important to our success story.
DEDICATION: We work with a passion and have taken ownership of the objectives of L’AINE.
RESPONSIVENESS: Fast, positive action is the watchword. Look for alternatives and always be results oriented.
Having reached this coveted level in the human resource world, do you feel any pressure to step up your game? Has it raised the expectations from yourself, staff and patrons?
Absolutely. The room for improvement is still the biggest room, so we will soar and excel. I am sure you have also heard of the sigmoid curve. “This S-shaped curve can be used to describe the life-cycle of products, organizations, and even relationships. As the curve symbolizes the fact that nearly all of life’s endeavours start slowly, dip and falter through an experimental stage before rising to a pinnacle of success, after which there is inevitable decline.” We must create another S-curve just before the point of decline so that we can continue excelling.
HR in Ghana: how do you think Ghana has evolved when it comes to HR policies and practices?
HR in Ghana has come a long way. We are now considered as strategic partners in more organizations than not. This topic is a whole essay and I would not like to be simplistic in my answer, so I will leave it here for now.
If you could wave your magic stick and make a significant development in one specific area of HR practices in Ghana, where would that fall?
In the area of Employee Retention. In the workplace, no longer is a positively conducive work environment coupled with an attractive remuneration package enough for retention of employees – employees want much more. In the nineteenth century, the type of employment relationship in existence was the one hinged on loyalty and entitlement. This has been taken over by what I call the twenty-first century employment relationship, which is no longer based on trust. Something more specific such as “having something the other party wants and is willing to pay for” is now the basis for the relationship.
Definitely employee retention is an area that needs to be demystified.
How do you keep up with the constantly changing field of HR?
I study, read, lecture and facilitate at seminars.
As an experienced and successful hr practitioner, what skills are critical to having a successful HR career?
Technical skills: be savvy in human resource practices, such as how to set up and implement an effective performance management system, managing human capital (recruitment and retention of staff), training and human resource development, etc.
Being savvy in best hr practices and being knowledgeable in the labour law and its implementation.
Excellent inter-personal skills.
Influencing and negotiating skills, to mention a few.
To quote Brady, “HR is a creature of, and serves the business strategy, it’s important for HR people to know what that strategy is and what makes the business tick so the approach to HR can be tailored accordingly. Never think of HR in isolation, because if Human Resources professionals think of themselves as ‘just HR,’ that’s what the rest of the organization will think too.”
What has been the challenge so far in ensuring your company becomes a household name?
Branding costs money and looking for adequate funds to do so is a challenge. We have found interesting ways to get mileage with our limited funds, by being creative and using social media.
With great successes chalked this year, what are we to expect in future?
I am inspired by the acronym - EBNE (EXCELLENT, BUT NOT ENOUGH). Guided by Ephesians 2;10, we will continue to strive for excellence and make a big, big difference in the world of work, bringing a lot of innovation to our work processes.
How are you impacting the lives of young people in the Ghanaian society?
We partner with the universities and churches and share career options and equip them with the need to find their purpose and how to write their CVs or how to excel at job interviews and also how to start their own businesses.
We also have a “Bridge the Gap Internship Programme” that we run during the long vacations. We place students in various organizations for them to gain some soft skills and work experience.
What would you say many entrepreneurs are doing wrongly, that is making them to see misfortunes rather than opportunities in doing business in Ghana?
Many people are understandably choosing “risk free” white collar jobs over the more risky entrepreneurship terrain. Subsequently, the mindset of people needs to be changed. Some of us will have to create jobs for others.
For those who decide to be entrepreneurs, we need to learn to be patient and gradually build our businesses. Sometimes, we may have to start with smaller, micro businesses to be able to fund the future “bigger” businesses. We must learn to crawl, before we learn to walk and then run.
What top five pearls of wisdom can you offer to women wanting to set up their own business, at home or abroad?
The advice is as good for men as for women wherever in the world.
If you wish to set up a business, ensure you have a good business idea. If it is kenkey you want to sell, ensure you have people who will be interested in buying that kenkey at the price you want to sell it for. You should also ensure that your kenkey is special and pleasing to the taste buds and sight (packaged nicely) of your customers.
In short, the business idea should be one that has a market and you should go about things properly. Come up with a business plan, you must have the motivation and experience as well as ability and keep your personal monies separate from the company operations.