It’s still dark outside when a man dressed in a suit leaves his house and starts his car. An on-screen graphic surrounds the car’s headlights: “Components tested by Bureau Veritas.” He drives, passing a power plant. “Environmental Impact controlled by Bureau Veritas.” Next, the protagonist enters an office building and steps into an elevator. “Inspected by Bureau Veritas.” As the three-minute video depicts what seems like an average day, the man unwittingly has twenty-one encounters with Bureau Veritas.
Maggie Laureano found the video online as she was researching global companies. After leading HR for Embraer’s North America division, she was looking to exit aeronautics and step into a new industry. In addition to learning a new sector, Laureano wanted to help a global company make a meaningful impact on the world. The 2018 video, entitled A Day with Bureau Veritas, was quite convincing: Laureano decided to pursue work within the organization.
Bureau Veritas (BV) tests, inspects, and certifies products and services in many fields, including construction, agriculture, and retail. Founded in 1828, the company now has seventy-five thousand employees who generate approximately €5 billion (about $5.9 billion) in annual revenue. “I was impressed with the work Bureau Veritas does combined with its enormous reach as a global company,” Laureano says.
Today, Laureano is Bureau Veritas’ vice president and HR lead for North America. In that role, she’s responsible for coordinating talent management and talent acquisition programs to support important growth initiatives. Because BV is a large company with many specialized business units, she’s made a concerted effort to understand precise staffing needs by visiting job sites, speaking with leaders, building relationships, and interviewing employees.
Some HR leaders would have been tempted to rely on faster methods, but Laureano knew she needed to dig deep to understand the complex business. “One size does not fit all,” she emphasizes. “Those who have the best success in HR understand the nuances in their specific business and respond accordingly.”
That approach, while time consuming, uncovered some important and actionable intel—Laureano discovered a talent shortage as well as a potential looming crisis. Many elevator inspectors had recently retired, some had moved to part-time, and others were planning to retire soon. With other trades rising in popularity, new inspectors are hard to find. Armed with this new information, Laureano asked her team to create internships, apprenticeships, and partnerships with technical institutions to create a pipeline that would proactively address the shortfall head-on.
Leaders at Bureau Veritas were quick to support Laureano’s new initiative. In fact, she says her team can move rapidly because decisions happen at the local level. Empowered leaders keep the organization, which has 1,500 offices in 140 countries, agile. “If something works for a local team, leaders approve it, we do it, and then we see if it makes sense for other regions,” she explains. “It’s very exciting for someone in HR because you can make a real, direct impact.”
This style and culture informs how Laureano hires. Now, she looks for entrepreneurial leaders who want to leave their mark on a department. In 2020, she worked with her team to help BV navigate challenges associated with COVID-19 and civil unrest. In helping executives create an effective strategy, Laureano focused on one thing: communication. “As an HR leader, I know how important honest information is. Tell the whole story, even in difficult times,” she stresses. “When you share information, you can get people to rally around it, and you create an opportunity that you would otherwise miss.” When companies are less than forthright, the VP adds, employees often invent and perpetuate a false narrative.
“As an HR leader, I know how important honest information is. Tell the whole story, even in difficult times.”
Laureano’s partners, including Alliant Employee Benefits, have taken note of her commitment to honestly serve the people of Bureau Veritas. “Maggie is an exceptional leader who operates with the highest degree of integrity,” says Kelley Milburn, executive vice president at Alliant. “In my experience, she has been able to quickly assess situations, evaluate options, and make decisive decisions that are focused on organizational goals and the employee population she serves. She has been a great partner to work with.”
Laureano’s skills came in handy during the coronavirus pandemic as she helped Bureau Veritas craft its messaging and deliver content through frequent emails and town hall meetings. HR offered numerous webinars on health and well-being initiatives to address BV’s large population of essential employees. Employees were also reminded about the company’s new well-being and mental health services package, which Laureano created alongside a total rewards director she brought with her from Embraer.
Laureano continues to help Bureau Veritas pivot as the pandemic changes how business is done around the world. In 2020, the company introduced a service called Restart Your Business with BV to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and certify health, safety, and hygiene conditions for hospitality, restaurant, and retail clients. HR moved quickly to recruit the right employees to support the new initiative.
As Bureau Veritas moves forward, Laureano looks for other ways HR can support the company and its employees. Her teams are already enhancing features on internal web portals and apps so workers can log time, elect benefits, change beneficiaries, and complete other tasks remotely.
Whether she’s working on a small upgrade or rolling out a new program, Laureano thoroughly enjoys her new role. “This company does meaningful work to help keep many people around the world safe,” she says. “I get to contribute to that endeavor, and I get to make sure our own employees are kept safe, too.”
Founded in Antwerp, Belgium in 1828, Bureau Veritas’ original mission was to standardize rules for marine operations. Today, the business serves as a leader in testing, inspection, and certification, serving clients across consumer products, food and agriculture, building and infrastructure, oil and gas, and numerous other markets. From boats and planes to buildings, power plants, automobiles, and children’s toys, BV is the go-to contact for performance enhancement and risk reduction. That is why, in New York City alone, half of all elevators are inspected by BV employees.