This weeks shout out is for my friend Etienne Besson, better known as @HappyEmployee on twitter. Etienne is a practicing HR generalist in Geneva, in Switzerland. He works at the coal face day-to-day, dealing with all the usual challenges that come his way. I wanted to give Etienne a shout out this week because of all he is doing to build an HR community in Switzerland.
I blogged about a year ago about Steve Browne from Ohio, about a year ago. Many of the readers of this blog will know Steve as @SBrowneHR on twitter.

What I admire about Steve is that he has worked tirelessly to connect HR professionals. Steve started on this mission long before social-media, with TheHRNet e-mail newsletter, really growing subscriptions by word of mouth. This developed in to a web site and exploded through social media. Steve is a day-to-day HR Director. He is not a consultant and has nothing to sell. He does it to genuinely connect people and further the profession, and he works tirelessly in this mission. Steve is one of my favourite HR people, and i was lucky enough to spend quality time with Steve at Ohio SHRM last year. If you are not already connected with him, you should be.
I talk about Steve in this shout-out because I see a lot of parallels between the work Steve does in the Ohio and wider HR community at large, and what Etienne is doing in Geneva. Every community needs a DJ. not a manager to regulate and moderate, (leave that to the control guys), but a DJ who makes things happen. A community DJ creates the places, reasons and opportunities to connect, and letting the people who choose to come decide what they want to happen. Etienne, like Steve is the DJ of their respective communities, and I see a lot of simmilarities between the two.

By day, Besson is an HR generalist for Unilabs, who provide laboratory and radiology services to the public and private sector, where he has been based for the last 11 months. Prior to this he worked in a variety of HR roles since 1998. Having worked in a variety of roles, his expertise ranges from practical areas like payroll through to recruiting.

Working out of Geneva, Besson has great experience of managing international projects and working cross boarders. He is fluent in 4 languages, and understands the complexity of international HR, recognising that each culture and country requires a different approach. I admire the ability some people have to switch approaches to HR problems, in particular payroll and accounting, where an understanding of local legislation is critical.

I first came in to contact with Etienne through his interest in social media and HR blogs. He attended the second #trulondon on a bit of a pilgrimage to meet with Laurie Ruettimann, being a fan of her PunkRock HR blog. I’m glad he did, because we have since got to know each other well. Besson works in a country and a profession that has been slow to buy in to the benefits of social-media. For him, learning has been self financed, and driven by a thirst to learn more. This means regular trips out of Switzerland to #Tru and other events.

Rather than get frustrated or bemoan the lack of adoption in his native country, Etienne has gone about building a local community through his blog named simply “Etienne Bessons Blog”, where he offers opinion and curation on the topics of human resources and social media in Switzerland. It is an interesting read, and one you should put in your reader. He also hosts a monthly tweet-up: HRTug, that started with just a few people but is growing in numbers through Bessons enthusiasm and energy. I’m seeing the number of Swiss HR practitioners and recruiters getting active on Twitter and Facebook increasing rapididly, and much of this is down to #HRTug.

On May 4′th we are taking the #tru carnival to #truGeneva, to help build the community further. I know that with Besson’s enthusiasm and passion for connecting the local community, it is going to be a great success. I hope you can play a part by joining us in Geneva.

I’m looking forward to seeing Etienne again at #trulondon, and to his track, which is appropriately named “I.R.L.”, a topic Besson is passionate about, using social as the introducer to get people meeting face to face. Much like Brown, Besson is not a consultant or vendor, so there is no commercial benefit to putting in the hours and building a community. Their motives are more altruistic, with a genuine desire to connect and serve others. Isn’t that a great quality for anyone to have in HR? We should salute them.



Etienne Besson


Etienne Besson’s Blog

Steve Browne