Transaction engine

“We are the engine that makes your travels possible”, says Priya Mouttou when situating Amadeus. Chances are that your coming trip, including your airplane, hotel, car and taxi, will be arranged thanks to Amadeus’ transaction software and booking tools.

In 1987, Amadeus was founded by four airlines. Today it constitutes a global technology company, counting over 19.000 employees and 143 nationalities in 190+ countries. Clients are tour operators, airlines, hotels, car rental companies, railway companies, ferry companies etc. We have a worldwide mindset and are present wherever our customers need us. Within Benelux, we assist our customers from different offices, in Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Luxemburg and Vilvoorde. We also have an R&D center In Antwerp. Our support services are situated in Vilvoorde, nearby Brussels Airport and the Brussels Ring.

The future of travel

“Amadeus wants to shape the future of travel”, states Priya Mouttou. “A first trend is more personalisation. We build a platform that integrates everything aspect of travel, without limits. We call this the Live Travel Space. We intend to offer the traveler personalised experiences at any time and any destination, to be connected at any moment, like Netflix does, but in terms of travel content.”

“We notice a clear trend toward sustainable travel. We offer airlines a number of solutions reduce their CO2-impact. For instance an inventory tool to optimise the weight on board. That is why you sometimes see two flights within ten minutes heading for the same destination. A short delay is swapped against a fuel-efficient weight dispersion. Amadeus made e-booking possible, so that no more tickets need to be printed. Concerning sustainable travel we closely collaborate with airline alliances. We are proud to assist.”

“Our USP is our technology, the tool. But at the same time we offer human skills to the customer. Our employees co-operate with the customer in order to optimise their process. “Client first” is of utmost importance for us. We also strive for excellence, we want to exceed the customer’s expectations. Both values; customer first and  excellence, are part of our DNA and easy to organise. In recruitment, these values can be taken into account. But our other two values, collaboration and ownership, are more difficult to obtain and to maintain. You need to work on them, day in day out. Every day holds its challenges based on cultural differences. And our transition toward a matrix organisation with 143 nationalities has sharpened these challenges.”

The transition toward a matrix organization was the ideal opportunity to update the behavioural culture.

Priya spontaneously talks about the big change. Mid 2018, Amadeus changed from a locally managed enterprise to a matrix organisation. “I sensed that our people weren’t ready to adhere to this matrix organisation” says Priya. “Till then, we had a strong local focus with one leading figure as general manager. Employees were used to their local managers and looked up to their local leadership. In the past, the emphasis was mainly on result-driven commercial skills, on figures. The transition to a matrix organisation was an ideal opportunity to update soft skills as well as our behavioural culture. My intention was to make people more agile of mind, not in terms of time and space. We were looking for assistance in that process, to coach our people, to improve our competences.”

Soft skills

I did not need to ask the question why StreetwiZe was invited as a partner; “I consulted my HR-peers on how they would tackle such a problem”, says Priya Mouttou. ”A story that impressed me was the the transformation project at the city of Ghent where StreetwiZe was contracted. I started my investigations and was deeply impressed by the “360° StreetwiZe” approach and also the stories on the website. The StreetwiZe-coach I met first was Kim. She is amazing. Then, Kim was accompanied by Hans and Bart.”

“Mid-2018 StreetwiZe stepped on board as a partner. But before, we worked on our unfreezing-program so that people would be open to changes, to soft skills.  Together with six other rebel employees I set up activities in co-creation, with easy team activities, to challenge people and to let them experiment collectively. I realise now that this defrosting phase was essential. Without this, people would still be stuck in their hard skills and the associated behaviour. The coaching of StreetwiZe would have been in vain.

After the workshop ‘positive focus’, people embraced change as an opportunity.

The moment StreetwiZe stepped in mid-2018 turned out to be perfect timing. “At the very same time, our General Manager announced his retirement. We started with a keynote by Arnoud Raskin on street children, Mobile School and the StreetwiZe approach. There were two keynotes for about 120 people in total. Then, a small team-building event took place, to wave the past goodbye and to welcome the future. During the next twelve months, five workshops were organised, each of them focused on one of the four StreetwiZe skills, “positive focus”, “agility and resilience”, “proactive creativity” and “cooperative competition”, completed by the “storytelling” module.

Burning platform

“Looking back, the workshops arrived just at the right time” Priya Mouttou continues. “The content of the workshops was perfectly aligned with our personal needs at that moment within our change process, very recognisable and applied to the problem at that very moment. This made a world of difference. Time and again, Hans and Bart translated the street skills and values to our reality, so that our people directly saw the use of it. They could apply immediately what they learned.“

“You have to understand ... For years, people had proved themselves within the existing locally conducted organisation. Then all of a sudden the message came: “Please meet your new team. From now on we operate in a matrix structure and you have to report to X in for example Germany or Spain.” We had to prove ourselves all over again, to new people. Well, after the workshop “positive focus”, we saw people embracing the change as an opportunity and completely rewriting their resume in order to reposition themselves in the new organisation. Not everyone acted the same way. You always lose some people in such a big change. But instead of experiencing the change as a frustrating moment, a lot of people took the opportunity to present themselves differently and better.”

“Hans and Bart always tried to create breakthroughs. They continually looked for alignment with me, to find the best possible approach for their workshops at that moment. Only by looking back, I realise how ideal the tuning between content and timing was. And I realise even more that not only your actions matter, but also their timing. I would like to pass on this advice to my HR-colleagues. A workshop can be organised in a proactive way, but sometimes it is preferable and more relevant to really give the workshop at the right time, when people are quite ready for it.”

At least 90% participated in one or two workshops. The employees were never compelled to participate. “We count on self-leadership”, says Priya Mouttou. “Sometimes people were simply absent due to a business-trip.”

In July 2019 the change process was completed by a final workshop, the module ‘story telling’. ”This also turned out to be the right moment, at which we wondered if we were still a Benelux-team. Because a year later in the matrix organisation this question remained. Hans and Bart procured us with the material to think beyond that team limit... During the afternoon we planned a team-building event, a cooking workshop, to close our journey in style. The fun part of it is that you cook for each other and share the meal at a large table. Then, spontaneously, the idea arose to position ourselves as a ‘community’. Ever since, we organise a monthly community-day, where we share an activity and our stories. That makes a big difference. I still use the collective cooking as a metaphor.”

I feel that thanks to StreetwiZe, we softened the organisation, that the very soul of the organisation disclosed itself.

“How would you define the StreetwiZe approach?” I ask. “Very down to earth”, Priya replies. “No blabla. The approach is inspiring and defiant. StreetwiZe does not impose a theory or a model but starts from your business reality and then apply their skills to it. You can identify yourself purposefully with the explanations. You recognise the relevance of the street skills for your work, for your situation and can apply them immediately. That’s because the StreetwiZe coaches give applied workshops, customised to what you need professionally... and street skills simply turn out to be life skills. Everything we learned from StreetwiZe is for life. This is also linked to my HR-philosophy. Being better as a professional also means being better as a person. What we do here is for life.”

“What is the difference between before and after?”, I ask. “I am looking for a metaphor… ”, is Priya’s answer. “It is like taking butter out of the refrigerator. It softens. I feel that we softened the organisation. The organisation’s soul opened up thanks to StreetwiZe. Back in the days it was concealed. It was present but did not appear. Today that box is open. It breathes. Possessing a soul is more important than ever. This is the only link we have in this disruptive world. And an anchor to which you can return. You need such an anchor, otherwise you’re likely to float around in the chaos. It is each organisation’s responsibility to offer employees such a soul and anchor, and to not only focus on results.”.