Bottling Success: An Interview with Dalila Safir

Written by: Fleming. Team

Dalila Safir.
Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages


Ms Dalila Safir has more than 15 years of experience in HR and Communication and is currently the HR Director for Aujan Coca-Cola Beverages Company where she has implemented a novel HR strategy structured around 3 main pillars Alignment-Capability-Engagement to support the Group vision to become a world class bottling operation.


1. What are the main focus areas for managing a modern employee engagement strategy?

Although there might be some variations in employee engagement strategy according to regions or to the age profile of the employees, there are 3 fundamentals of engagement and motivation that remain constant from my point of view. First, the ability to provide a learning environment, where the employee can acquire new skills and expertise, that truly develop him or her as a professional. Second is the autonomy the employee is offered in performing his job, that will trigger his willingness to go extra miles. Third is the connection he can concretely identify between his role and the company goal, in a way that he can see a direct impact between his/her tasks and the company results. Ultimately, all these 3 elements are closely related to the quality of leaders the company can provide, who will leverage those driving factors on a daily basis.


2. How important is the “Human” element of HR to achieving business success?

Managing for value is 20% about numbers and 80% about people (J. Sunderland former CEO Cadbury Schweppes. In context of increasing influence of the quality of service, digitization, artificial intelligence, in a more complex, competitive environment, the human dimension is gaining even more importance for a company to make a difference. It is not only about the products you sell. Studies have shown that companies investing in people, and providing an engaging environment are the one who achieve the best performance in the long term.

3. How has nationalization affected the hiring trends in the region?

This is becoming a top priority for the company, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The companies operating in this region have to completely review their operating model to adapt to this new paradigm. It is not anymore a nice to have but a condition of survival for the company to continue operating in this region. It impacts significantly the hiring trends as it can not only be a quota approach. On the contrary, companies have to drive nationals recruitment with a qualitative and long term approach at all levels of the organization. This means investing in employer branding using social media to target talents in the region who can become the future leaders of the organization. But hiring strategy is not enough. It has to be supported by a solid development and training structure as well as a retention model. It also means to accompany managers in attracting and retaining nationals in their team, by being sensitive to cultural difference and adapt their management approach.

4. What are the challenges faced by HR in the ME region especially?

Many challenges affect HR in the ME region, starting with the VUCA context (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) that the region is experiencing in the recent years. It pushes HR to be more strategic and act as real business partner to support the business objectives in terms of fit for purpose organization, succession plan /risk management, adaptation of people skills to the new business context, process efficiency.The other challenge is about adapting to the nationalization trend. It commands to build a solid succession planning strategy aiming at positioning nationals at all levels of the organization, and accordingly design the appropriate development and training strategy, specific career planning as well as an adapted retention and compensation policy. Nationalization forces the company to shift their traditional approach of HR that was focusing on an expatriate operating model. Nationalization will continue to grow in the whole region and the companies who will have already adapted their HR strategy will be the one winning on the long term.