Fixed Cost Venture Executive

Roberto Ponte
Joined Infineum in 1999

After a couple of years practicing as a Process Engineer with an Italian chemical company, I enrolled on a high-quality MBA course in 1991. Following graduation I was offered a job at Exxon Chemical’s Vado plant. I held a variety of technical and supervisory roles, and developed an interest for organisational issues and challenges.

By the time Infineum was formed in 1999, the opportunity arose to become a generalist HR Advisor for Southern Europe. The early years were a crash course in HR as processes were built from scratch and I was largely on my own, getting French payroll, policies and employee relations practices going.

A couple of years later, an unexpected opportunity came up and I took on the role of Global Compensation & Benefits Manager. It really stretched me but I enjoyed it because of the technical and numeric aspects which fitted well with my engineering background.

In 2003 while still in the same role, I took on additional responsibility as HR Manager for Northern Europe. I really enjoyed this because it gave me the chance to supervise a team and get to grips with new challenges such as modifying a complex in-company pension plan.

Six years later, I expanded my horizons and took on a more strategic position as Global Talent Manager. The role was largely about developing strategic business cases for a talent agenda which was really embryonic at that time. Following reorganisation of the HR department I became Global HR Operations Manager in late 2011, a role I still hold today.

My main responsibility is in guiding all in-country HR teams to ensure we are aligned as a business. This means working closely with the HR leads in America, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Singapore and China to oversee and harmonise the delivery of the full spectrum of HR functions and procedures; from recruitment to employee relations, benefits, compensation and compliance.

In this role I’ve also been responsible for supporting specific major organisational change initiatives within Infineum. One of my favourites was creating and rolling out a people strategy for the business in China starting in 2010 around attracting, recruiting and retaining people which peaked with the recent opening of the Business and Technology Centre in Jinqiao and the manufacturing plant in Zhangjiagang.

More recently, I’ve overseen the strategy, daily governance and support for ‘Colleague Central’, which is our integrated HR information system.

Double hatting has been a common pattern across my career so far.  Between May 2014 and the end of 2015, I also took on an additional role as HR Manager for Sales and Supply. This primarily involved understanding the talent challenges specific to the sales and supply functions, helping them develop their skills and capabilities, managing change and monitoring demand for HR solutions to help them.

  • Year

    Position

  • Process Engineer, Ausimont

  • MBA, Insead

  • Joined ExxonMobil’s Vado plant, holding various technical and supervisory roles

  • Transferred from ExxonMobil to Infineum as HR Advisor, Southern Europe

  • HR Manager, Italy

  • Global Compensation & Benefits Manager

  • HR Manager, Northern Europe / Global Compensation & Benefits Manager

  • Global Talent Manager

  • Global HR Operations Manager

  • HR Manager for Sales and Supply / Global HR Operations Manager

  • Fixed Cost Venture Executive

Typical day at Infineum

There isn’t a typical day!

What’s your view on where the business stands to date?

Infineum has all the qualities of a leading organisation. The business has strong fundamental values, and colleagues tend to align to these, and to want to collaborate and succeed together.

The challenge is to become more focused on what really matters, and build on successes and strong fundamentals to weather the unavoidable storms ahead .

What piece of advice would you give to someone interested in joining Infineum?

If you have the passion and drive for results and come with a global and open mindset, then it’s the right organisation for you!

What’s the best thing about working at Infineum?

There’s a very welcoming and friendly attitude, which makes it easy to develop strong working relationships. I particularly like the fact that everyone is committed to making Infineum a better business. Oh, and I love the informal attire!

What piece of advice would you offer someone starting out their career at Infineum?

You can really shape your own development by expressing your career preferences, and getting support to pursue it. I’ve seen Infineum give people plenty of opportunity to explore different parts of the business, leading to impressive personal and professional growth.

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