Alexandre Menais: “At Atos, there is a hierarchy of responsibility, not a hierarchy of opinion”
The secretary-general of Atos casts a look back over his decade with the company and discusses its goals and values.
What issues has your legal department been faced with over the past several months?
Many of them have, naturally, been linked to the pandemic. The health and safety of our staff being our number one concern, we have had to adapt our practices to protect them and ensure that they have the necessary tools to continue doing their jobs as effectively as possible, wherever in the world they are located. Atos operates in 74 countries and the various Covid-related lockdowns and travel restrictions have compelled us to reinvent our way of interacting with staff.
Furthermore, Atos offers its digital solutions to companies in all sectors of the economy. Therefore we had to assess the consequences of the current crisis on our commercial partners. This was a big adjustment for the team, but despite some complex situations, we were able to overcome the problems facing us and are once again now free to concentrate on the opportunities that lie ahead. In light of the crisis, we have leaned into the digital transformation and significantly revised the operational structure within Atos.
You were with a law firm for over a decade before moving in-house. Why did you decide to make the switch?
It was the logical next step in my career. I wanted to work more closely on operational matters and expand my range of expertise. It’s my job as general secretary to provide detailed, regular breakdowns of the issues affecting our business, so that the CEO and board of directors can make highly informed choices. The managerial aspects of my job are critical.
You also handle compliance. Tell us about your role here.
In order for a compliance programme to be effective, it needs to dovetail with the day-to-day activities of the company – not to mention its staff, be they in Singapore or Buenos Aires. The compliance experts we employ are here to establish workable compliance policies and then apply them at a global and local level.
We must never forget that the people on the front line of the fight against corruption are our staff members. They need to be trained and updated on appropriate behavior; in this regard, it’s crucial that management always provide a good example. At Atos, there is a hierarchy of responsibility, not a hierarchy of opinion.
What are Atos’ ambitions for 2021?
We have launched many digital initiatives of late, notably one regarding legal design. Atos may be one of the only legal departments to have a dedicated designer on the payroll. Having this asset allows us to take an entirely user-centric approach.
We also want to lead the way in the use of new applications. We were the first French company to have a blockchain-enabled voting application, which was created in-house by our legal department in tandem with our digital transformation teams.
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