Talking courage with a CEO

(3 minute read)

Randstad - Corporate portraits at Head office  2017

The first of our interviews is with Frank Ribuot, a French and Australian national, who is the CEO of Randstad Australia/NZ/India. Randstad is a Fortune Global 500 company and one of the world’s leading recruitment & HR solutions specialists, headquartered in The Netherlands.  At Randstad, Frank is focused on strengthening the company’s performance, productivity, agility and innovation through strong business management and by investing in people.  He has a passion for superior sales and marketing strategies.

How would you describe workplace courage?

I would describe workplace courage at two levels:

  1. At an enterprise level; this is when the culture allows for people to feel empowered and secure enough to make decisions, drive a plan, take initiative, talk freely
  2. At an individual level; it is the ability of a person to make the above a reality for himself/herself so that they can try more, tell more and trust more … and feel at ease to do so without feeling at risk.

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What does courage look like in your workplace?

In our workplace, we are empowering people at the grassroots level to come up with ideas and to speak up so that we improve as a company.  We have flattened the communication channels and provide as many direct channels as possible to cut the “red tape”.

People are made to feel safe so that they can approach me directly and discuss their thoughts.

But the most important thing is empowerment—the ability for people to truly drive their destiny, their own career and their own growth. We instinctively trust our people to do the right things and we’d rather deal with the unintended consequences of myriad good actions rather than take none.

Please describe 1or 2 examples of times in which you have been courageous.  What did you do?  Who/what enabled you to be courageous?  What was the outcome?  

Coming into this business a few years back, we had to turn around our financial performance; I was under a lot of pressure and was being advised by people outside of our business to “make changes and change the people”.  I instead decided to go my own way; to take my time to assess the situation and TRUST the people I had.  We got to know each other and that trust quickly made them feel that they were safe to make calls and that they would be supported rather than being blamed.

We built a moral contract between each other that we would back each other even though we really did not know each other.  As such I needed courage to put my trust in people without knowing if I would be paid back …

The results have been amazing. We have completely turned around the company and have outgrown the market for the past 3 years without having to change the leadership team.  Our financials are up, our staff turnover is down and our engagement is up.

Having the courage to trust people has paid a massive dividend.   One key requirement to do this is for one to feel secure about him- or herself.  This allows for decisions to be made with a cool head and in a more balanced way.

From your point of view, to what extent are Australia’s leaders leading with courage?

I do think that more and more leaders in Australia are leading with courage and also purpose.  It is very hard to make general statements as companies are very different.  A publicly listed company with public scrutiny is very different from an SME where the owner is also the founder and has his money, heart and soul invested.

In the main I do feel that many leaders in our country are very in touch and very real.  For those of us who work for global organisations, we are lucky with the fact that Australia is so far from the rest of the world, it allows us to test and try more things … and make courageous decisions more often.


A little more about FrankWith over 20 years of experience in operations, general management and human resources consulting, Frank has consistently demonstrated an ability to grow the business units and regions he has been responsible for while also helping his clients deliver on their goals.  He has a proven track record of successfully building and managing large and cross-border teams, as well as defining and implementing sales and operations re-engineering strategies.  Frank can be contacted at frank.ribuot@randstad.com.au.


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