Corporate Vision February 2017

, Vouching for Internal Innovation Day, Italian subsidiary of Up Group and a leader in its market with a turnover of about 500 Million euros, operates in areas such as employee benefits, public and social programs, incen- tive, loyalty and reward, business expenses management and services for retailers. We spoke with CEO of the Year 2016 - Professional Service andManagement, Italy, Marc Buisson, to discover more about the businesses operation. Day’s main products are meal and other reward vouchers, both paper based and digital, which they provide to more than 500,000 people on a daily basis. They act as a part of the larger Up Group, which itself has a presence in 17 countries designing products and services that facilitate the daily life of 21.3 million people around the world. “Our mission is to facilitate the daily life of our clients, both companies and individuals by offering simple and tailor made solutions”, Marc explained to us. “As a leader in our markets, it is our duty to always reinvent our models and solutions. For example, we were there at the introduction of the luncheon voucher nearly 50 years ago in France. Now, thanks to the use of new technologies we continue to evolve the concept, both on its form (from paper to electronic) and use. “Co-development and co- construction are our new approach. Last year we implemented our open innovation process aimed at transforming our offers, using a new model of project management involving both internal and external customers. It goes without saying that this allows us to be more focused on customer satisfaction, and adapting our offers throughout project creation. Customer survey are made by our dedicated services inside the company.” When asked about the methodology behind the businesses success, Marc informed us of the company’s founding tenets. “We base our difference on five pillars. Innovation, engagement (for both clients and employees), equity, solidarity and entrepreneurship. We always encourage and incentivise ideas and projects, and we are not afraid of testing them on our markets. As an example, we were the first in Italy to launch the use of meal vouchers on mobile phones, using technologies such as NFC or PNR codes. Our goal is to give everybody access to our solutions, no matter the infrastructure. We would like to render our solutions universally.” “Inside our open innovation process, scouting and relations with those in the start-up ecosystem are rather important. Last year we followed two emerging projects and we plan to follow at least three this year. Having daily contact with new technologies, fast organizations and universities is key to face the issues and changes in our markets and take on challenging opportunities. As an international group, we also scout outside of Italy in emerging or more structured markets.” And the flexibility to change is just as welcomed within the business as without. “Innovation, passion for change and engagement are the key features of our internal culture. We have a rather flat hierarchy and everybody is encouraged to challenge our projects and ideas. Continuous training of our staff and relations with our stakeholders allow us to open our mind to our markets and client needs.” “I like to speak rather transparently, in order to make my staff an active part of the overall strategy of the company. We are pleased to be part of a solid, international company, owned by employee (cooperative) investing, and one still developing into new markets. This helps us to attract new, skilled staff, but once here we have to motivate them. We are investing a lot in training, but communication is also essential for us. Making ideas and projects the general interest of the company helps us in creating our identity. It‘s not always easy to explain to people entering our company that we are different… Easier when they live it and see it by their own. After that, it is down to them to transfer that knowledge to their colleagues.” Speaking about the local markets in Italy, Marc is hopeful that it can overcome troubled times. “Italy is a very stimulating market, despite innovation and time to market here being some big issues. Although Italy suffered from the, let’s call it, structural crisis, our ecosystem is based on many, many small companies, leaving a big part of this particular Italian know how. This ‘Made in Italy’ factor is a big advantage. Thing is, that we are not always able to use this advantage in the best way. Maybe, we are not even fully conscious of our possibilities and it is often people from the outside that remind us that. Diversifying our specific market activities is crucial, as it is the only way to look for margins and new areas of development. The stagnation of many competitors is a signal that leaders have to extend their range of actions into other areas.” Looking to the future of the business, Marc would like to see the outward perception of the company evolve. “We would definitely like to change our image in the market. No more being considered as a food voucher company, but really as a company providing solutions to organizations and individuals. On top of that, we have the ambition to promote our model in the social economy. “Our market will always be more digital. We are investing a lot on tools and solutions that we can provide our stakeholders around our core activities using the most modern technologies.”