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HR and recruitment can either make or break your finance department, according to Ludmila Rufitskaya, Finance Director at sports retailer Decathlon Indonesia. 

“The first thing I changed in my team was recruitment methods,” says Ludmila, who has worked nearly all of her career within finance departments at Decathlon in Russia, France and since 2019, Indonesia. 

“One of my dearest friends in the company told me one day that if you plant a cucumber, you will not get tomatoes.”

“That stayed with me for a number of years before I really saw that to create a great team, you need to hire great people. And to acquire great people, you need to have a solid recruitment system that allows you to not make mistakes.” 

The system Ludmila developed

This new system which Ludmila has developed is tailored specifically to the recruitment market in Jakarta, and would not work as well in other markets, she says. 

“I had to rapidly figure out what is the system that works for this market.” 

“Now, it’s used by all departments in the subsidiary,” she says. 

The method is to hold group interviews in order to see more people, but whittle the list down quicker. 

“We have to sift through a lot of candidates to find our star,” says Ludmila.

At first, she picked out promising CVs from what came through on LinkedIn and invited people for a one-to-one interview, like she would have in Europe. But she met with a lot of people that didn’t have the energy or motivation she was looking for.

After that experience, she decided to send case studies to those sending in CVs and applications to assess their motivations and whether they understood the role. From there, she picked 10 candidates to do a group interview with, and then one or two as final candidates. 

“I realised that I had to meet several people at the same time, because in the first 15 minutes of them talking, I can already see if they are on the same level of energy,” she adds. 

Learning from mistakes

However, with managing a big change like this, where everybody might not be on board straight away, Ludmila has found it helpful to first allow a culture where employees can bring questions and concerns to her, but also one that will allow team members to make mistakes.

“If you think I’m wrong, you need to tell me,” she says. 

“The collective result is more important than individual egos.”

Sometimes your team will come to you with ideas you might know will be bad, says Ludmila. “But if they are able to try it and fail then they will see the result is not good and correct themselves. It’s about a learning curve mentality.” 

This was the case when there was a team member who had a low workload and was not doing enough work fast enough. This employee complained about certain issues and gave excuses for work which was not done. 

Ludmila was the manager of their line manager, and had pushed for a change. But, the manager wanted to keep the employee. 

“I was pushing them to change this person because they obviously were unhappy to be with us, and we were not very happy with their work either,” says Ludmila. “I was confused why the situation dragged on so long, but I let the manager resolve it by themselves.” 

In the end, the employee left and their new hire was a much better fit. 

Decisive leadership is a must

“From day one with the new recruit, all the problems disappeared,” says Ludmila. “The work of the whole department has transformed because the people are solid. And I’ve now talked with the manager about what we can learn from the situation going forward and how we can resolve it quicker.” 

“Sometimes indecisiveness costs a lot.” 

It’s this management side of her role that Ludmila is really passionate about. Her career in management is motivated by a desire to promote profiles in her team, enable people to do their best and be an all round great boss. 

“That’s what I love about my job most,” she says. “Then, of course, having an impact on the business and being able to create your vision of things, this is just amazing. And sharing that with your team and achieving things together that you might not be able to if you were solo. This is a feeling like no other.” 

LUDMILA’S POWER PROFILE

What music empowers her?

“I’m a big Taylor Swift fan. I love the song Blank Space, but I’m really inspired by her as a person and by the fact that she writes her own songs and has put a lot of work into where she is now.” 

Who is her hero?

“There are a lot of people who I admire for their achievements, but I really appreciate Bob Iger, the ex-CEO of Disney. He has taken a company that is old, set in their ways and he has propelled them into the future with bold decisions. I’m really proud of where Disney is now and thinking of so many companies that were the same age that perished or were let down faced with a new era.”