Rachida Kharbach (Cardif Lux Vie): Leadership as Partnership
The world of finance is changing, as are the ways that companies work within it. For Rachida Kharbach, COO of insurance company Cardif Lux Vie, that starts with identifying the most pressing challenges. Interview.
You have recently been appointed Chief Operations Officer; can you tell us more about your career?
I joined a consulting firm, Marwick, in 2000, specializing in customer relationship management. Then I joined BNP Paribas Cardif in France in 2007, where I held various positions around organizational projects, including the overhaul of the master plan and productivity improvement. I worked in Luxembourg during the integration of Cardif Fortis from 2011 to 2013, then took charge of managing a back office in France at AEP Assurance Épargne Pension for 4 years, overseeing operations and partner relationship management. There, I restructured the customer department and led a digitalization project. I joined Cardif Lux Vie four years ago for the restructuring of the customer department.
“Each of my team members brings unique expertise, and it is by bringing them together that we achieve remarkable results.”
What are the main challenges you are currently facing?
The challenges we face in our organization are human, technological, and commercial. The human challenge centres around our IT and operational department, which has more than 200 employees. It is a vast and diversified department, and one of the major challenges is to promote cross-functional collaboration. To achieve this, it is imperative to place the human factor at the centre of our organization. Regarding technology, we operate in an industry where new technologies evolve rapidly. We must constantly adapt and acquire the necessary skills to develop our tools. In Luxembourg, financial regulation is particularly complex and dynamic. We must not only comply with local standards but also closely monitor directives and developments from national and international regulators. Finally, the commercial challenge is essential for our organization. Our ultimate goal is to serve our clients and partners to the best of our ability while maintaining the company's profitability. Understanding the needs of our clients and partners while taking into account our organizational, regulatory, and procedural constraints is a delicate balance to strike.
What is your strategy to address these challenges?
My strategy is about orchestrating everything. At one point in the early 2000s, we used to call it the pizza team, where we all sit around a table, people from different teams, and we work together slicing up our deliveries so that we have things to show regularly.
The relationship with work has evolved significantly in recent years; what is your vision of management in this new context?
My vision of management can be summarized in one word: partnership. For me, management is a close collaboration with my team. I regularly meet with each IT team member, taking the time to introduce myself, because I want them to know me better. My role as a manager is not to become an expert alongside them but to understand their skills and organize our resources to address the company's challenges and promote their development. I am also proactive in my communication approach. I regularly walk through the open office spaces to greet team members and remind them that I am available for questions or feedback. My goal is to encourage collaboration and teamwork within the company. I also promote the formation of pairs or small working groups on specific topics, leveraging each member's complementary skills, allowing us to address challenges collaboratively and harness the strengths of each team member. My open communication and commitment are contagious and encourage others to do the same. I aim to create an environment where each team member feels valued, heard, and encouraged to give their best.