Charles Bendotti

  • SVP People & Culture

  • Philip Morris International (PMI)


MR. BENDOTTI BECAME SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, PEOPLE & CULTURE IN JANUARY 2018. He joined Philip Morris International in Lausanne in 1999 as Business Analyst. From 2000 until 2006, he served in various cross-functional roles in Marketing & Sales and Business Development in different markets of the Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America & Canada Regions. Mr. Bendotti then became Managing Director, Ecuador & Bolivia, followed by his appointment as Vice President, Human Resources for the Latin America & Canada Region in 2008. In 2012 he was named Vice President, Human Resources Asia, a position he held until December 2016, and then Senior Vice President, Human Resources. Mr. Bendotti holds a master’s degree in international relations, economy, and law from the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and an Executive MBA from HEC Paris.

Question and Answer

As companies adapt to today’s increasingly digital environment, the HR function is rapidly evolving as well by exploring new technologies, platforms and ways of working to meet the needs of employees and the organization. This digital disruption has fundamentally changed how HR operates—from customizing the employee experience to introducing new opportunities for employee learning and development initiatives, right up to recruitment practices. For example, at Philip Morris International (PMI), we’ve implemented an enterprise-wide employee listening tool which uses pulse surveys to get real-time feedback at different points in time and on different topics alongside the more traditional channels and means of gathering feedback – like during meetings and one-to-ones. These pulse surveys help us to understand pain points of employees so that we can adapt our workplace approach as needed. Because at the end of the day, it’s your people who are at the center of your success –not technology, although it is improving how we work.
  1. Having a bold mission for “better” – better products for consumers and a better world: When embarking on any business transformation, it’s critical to ensure your employees are united behind your vision. For PMI, that unified vision is to deliver a better world by achieving a smoke-free future. We want to replace cigarettes as quickly as possible with scientifically-substantiated smoke-free products that are a better alternative for the millions of men and women who would otherwise continue smoking. It’s consumer-driven, and presents a huge opportunity to improve public health. That’s something that our 77,000-strong global community of employees at PMI can get behind, and are working toward every day.
  2. Identify and close any skills gaps: To be successful in the future and equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead, an organization needs to make sure it has the right culture, talent and skills in place to deliver on its purpose and mission. As PMI shifts to become a science- and technology-minded company, we’ve had to incorporate new skills and thinking into our organization —skills we didn’t have before— and focus on building a more inclusive culture. This new wave of talent and their skills bring fresh ideas, new experience and ways of working which complement and enhance the knowledge and skills of existing employees. It infuses a new energy and dynamism across the organization.
  3. Confirm the basics and build from there: If you are going to “talk the talk”, you’ve got to start by “walking the walk”. This is key when it comes to workplace fundamentals such as equality, fairness and respect. These are the foundations for the workplace environment, to ensure every individual has an equal opportunity to contribute, share their ideas and innovate together. At PMI, we’ve set clear targets to improve the representation of women in our overall management population to at least 40% by 2022 and we’re tracking and regularly reporting on progress. Leaders are accountable for meeting their targets and those who miss them must explain why. This helps us close our gender gap and contributes to advancing equality in the workplace and beyond. We also became the first multinational company to obtain the global EQUAL-SALARY certification in March 2019, confirming that we pay women and men equally for equal work everywhere we operate. It’s a pretty big deal, but for us it’s just the beginning. We know we can and must do more to improve our gender-balance – and thus, our diversity- across our organization, including at senior leadership levels. This also helps us to become more consumer-centric and consumer-facing so it’s a “win-win-win”: for individuals, for the company and for society.
  1. Embedding inclusive leadership behaviors to drive growth: I believe that organizations with a more inclusive culture will be the frontrunners of the future. That’s a culture where everyone feels like they belong, that their voice is heard, and that they can take on new challenges and succeed. What’s more, plenty of studies confirm this – after all, inclusion is the active ingredient to make diversity and creativity flourish inside an organization. By developing inclusive leaders who rolemodel these behaviors and welcome diversity of thought and embrace new ways of working, employees feel more valued and in turn, are more productive, which boosts creativity and innovation to drive business growth. For me, making sure that the organization is successful is the best way to ensure your people can be successful and thrive over the long-term – and an incusive culture is central to that.
  2. Embracing technology to improve the employee experience: With the introduction of new technologies in the workplace —whether it’s artificial intelligence (AI), robotics or data tools— employers have a unique opportunity to better understand their employees and to provide them with the tailored information that helps them do their job and thrive. It’s also about providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to leverage the latest technologies so they can work smarter and more effectively. Technology is not only driving progress, acceleration and improvement for individuals in their job; it’s also helping to reduce the time spent on certain types of tasks so individuals can focus on higher-value, more creative work which will propel organizations forward in the future and society at large.

AI and new emerging technologies are reshaping the future of HR, which affects every level of an organization –not just the HR function. In the Middle East where technological advances are increasingly driving organizational change, we see an opportunity to reskill employees and focus on what matters: modernised leadership, personalizing the employee experience, and positioning the organization as an employer of choice. Not only is PMI hiring more people with tech and digital skills in the region, but we are also tapping into the power of technology to accelerate progress toward our vision of a smoke-free future: For instance, AI and technological advances underpin the development and manufacture of our smoke-free products through the use of computational science to test the aerosol properties of these products. The deep learning capabilities of this technology helps us assess the science behind better alternatives to cigarettes. We’re also leveraging AI and robotics to ensure our processes are more efficient and exploring how these technologies can be integrated into our talent attraction and hiring efforts.