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Interview with Hervé Chomel, Vice-President Africa at Moneygram

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Mr. Chomel joined MoneyGram in 2005 and today he is responsible for driving growth across Africa, MoneyGram’s largest region outside the US. Mr. Chomel’s career includes more than 20 years managing remittance services in global markets including overseeing sales, marketing and regional operations. He joined MoneyGram as regional director for France, Maghreb and Francophone Africa, which included starting MoneyGram-owned shops in France after obtaining a French Financial Services license. Mr. Chomel started his career in marketing, as product manager for Frito-Lay (PepsiCo group) based in Dallas. Pepsico then relocated him to New-York. There he joined Western Union’s marketing team, starting a 10 year period which eventually took him to Paris, his home country, growing into general management positions. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Mr. Chomel lives in Casablanca with his wife and two daughters.

 

Would you blow up the HR Function, as you know it?

Nothing is that straightforward or easy to fix, but much can be improved and there’s a bit of the Ivory Tower syndrome. HR in general could do with more client-focus and understanding. Specifically how people in the field need to make it work everyday with clients. In Africa that is not a given. HR needs to be open to frank interactions and show an understanding of the work environment employees are in. HR seems very distant from our day-to-day reality in the field, because they have no experience of the continent.

What is your biggest professional challenge?

Communication is my biggest challenge today. Anybody who manages virtual teams remotely understands the complexity and extra effort that goes into it. Managing people, difficult already as it is, compounded with time zone and cultural differences, remains hard work. To make it work well, you have to recruit and grow the right talent. In terms of management, everybody knows the expression ‘have the right people on the bus’. I believe that is very true.

If you could go live in another country, which one would it be?

I could live in many countries. I’m happy today in Morocco where I moved two years ago. I believe a lot of countries offer unique opportunities to live happily with a family, but a place where children can safely grow and develop is the starting point. On top of that, if in the evening you can relax outside, light up the barbeque and enjoy life with your friends over a glass of wine, what more can I ask for?.

What part of your role do you dread?

Nothing. I do not dread any part of my role. Dread is really a strong word. Of course, there are parts of my role that I do not specifically like. I’m no exception if I say I could do with less administration.

What advice proved useful to you in your career?

There are a couple of things that come to mind. During my MBA, a professor taught us how to “wade through the underbrush”, meaning focus on what matters and leave aside the rest. Another one of my favorite is the following: obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of the objective. That belief that anything is possible is something I’ve learnt from working in American companies.

What movie character fits you best?

Not sure. It must be a character with humor and lust for life. I leave it to you to choose.

What would you like to do more of?

I love doing deals. I like to negotiate and find a win-win solution.

If there were one thing you could change, what would it be?

I have absolutely no regrets. Of course, in hindsight, there are things you would do different and opportunities you would take. But then they did not present themselves as the right opportunity at the right time. So I guess I would not change anything.

What surprised you most?

Besides your question about what movie character fits me best? Seriously? The fact that so many people today trust my business thinking and judgment. I never thought I would one day be at that point.