Dialogue as a transmission belt for change of direction

Article written on 20 April 2021

Conversation with Pascal Boquet, HR Director at Saipol.

Say what we do, and do what we say! This is the definition of sincerity applied by Pascal Boquet, HR Director at Saipol. It is the basis of the dialogue established with the teams in order to better involve them in the reorientation of the production tool. In 2020, we saw the first signs of the company’s recovery and were able to measure the relevance of the Saipol 2023 strategy. In 2021, we will continue our strategic development and focus on giving meaning to our teams (strategic vision) so that they can see themselves as part of a company that is involved in the energy transition and committed to the speciality market, and so that everyone know how they contribute to it.

In a company, everyone must be able to give meaning to their work. Therefore, when the company comes out of a period of economic difficulties, social dialogue remains fundamental. The Human Resources Director is the guardian of trust. Its tool? “Genuine communication”,  explains Pascal Boquet, who has been in this position since 2015. Information is provided in a transparent manner to senior managers, factory managers, teams and social partners so that information can be disseminated on the ground. In discussions with employees, it is not a question of masking difficulties but rather of helping employees to get involved.We give autonomy to the teams in their operations. Our mission is to clarify Saipol’s roadmap with everyone and, if necessary, to arbitrate and redirect”, he says. Empowerment is the anchor for implementing change.

The need to reinvent oneself and to share it

Initiated in 2018, following the presentation of the strategic project “ Transform”, this change concerns the essence of the business: the crushing and refining factories. After the financial losses of the years 2015 to 2017, the employees were shocked. Up until this turning point, Saipol was a flagship of the production of biofuel, which accounted for 80% of turnover. The announced end of diesel and the abolition of the partial exemption from the domestic consumption tax (DCT) on biodiesel only confirmed what the management team foresaw:  the need to reduce the first-generation commodity biofuels business in favour of other speciality products.

A restructuring different from other industrial models

Compared to other industrial restructurings, the management team is not making hasty decisions that could be humanly difficult, even though retirement departures have not been replaced. “We first look for solutions, and when difficult decisions related to the strategy of returning to value creation must nevertheless be taken to ensure the future of the company, we support each of the employees concerned. In such a situation, our aim is to put in place responsible measures that give employees the best possible chance of preserving their jobs” says Pascal Boquet. “This represents part of the corporate culture of the Avril Group. ”

The transformation is not completely finalised. “In 2021, we are halfway through a strategy that is beginning to bear fruit. The factories must continue to process the seeds that are now used to produce the specialities that our customers and the company need. The employees know that we have the process under control”, he concludes. In particular, the process in which Saipol is involved in the energy transition of transport.

pascal boquet

“Transparency and sincerity are the foundations of social dialogue”

Pascal Boquet, Saipol Human Resources Director