Workday Rising Europe Daily: Celebrating the Changemakers

Learn what Workday leaders and our customers shared during the second day of Workday Rising Europe. See recaps from conference sessions on the challenges and opportunities facing finance, HR, and IT leaders in our changing world.

Following a spectacular Welcome Keynote on Tuesday evening, featuring Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA, Workday Co-CEO Chano Fernandez took to the stage on Wednesday morning at the Stockholmsmässan in Stockholm, Sweden, to kick-off the second day of Workday Rising Europe. 

Welcoming more than 2,600 attendees to the first in-person Workday Rising Europe since 2019, Fernandez celebrated the spirit of the Workday community, and paid tribute to those who are helping their organisations to create the future of work while navigating macro-economic, geo-political and social change.

“You represent the backbone of business - whether your role is in finance, HR, or IT - together you are the foundation upon which every successful business is built,” Fernandez said.

How Businesses Are Contending with Constant Change 

Next up, Workday Chief Strategy Officer Pete Schlampp discussed how the pace of change has accelerated significantly over the last few years. As businesses manage the shift to hybrid work and a flexible workforce, they’ve had to find the right technologies to help them create more continuous planning models to support constant change.

“Smart business leaders are choosing the systems and the applications that they need to stay ahead of change. Changemakers—all of you here with us—are writing the playbook for the future of your company right now,” he said.

Schlampp also announced Workday is expanding its Industry Accelerators programme to Europe, beginning with the UK market. The first wave in the UK will be for Banking and Insurance Industries with other markets and industries to follow.

Workday Chief Strategy Officer Pete Schlampp at the Workday Rising Europe Innovation Keynote.

Learn to Adapt, and Fast

It’s no secret that many C-suite leaders have had to be more agile and adapt over the past few years, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Organisations need the ability to respond to changing circumstances without losing sight of their goals, Workday CFO Barbara Larson said at the Innovation Keynote.

“We’re confronting challenges we’ve never seen before, from a pandemic and talent crisis, to geopolitical and macro uncertainty. Sometimes that means making decisions, or even changing course, on the fly."

At Workday, the finance organisation learned that periodic planning isn’t enough. “We need more and we need it faster. So what do we do? We pivot,” Larson said. “With Workday Adaptive Planning, rich data fuels plans that are continuously refreshed and ready when we need to make data-driven decisions.”

Workday is Shrinking (Downtime)

While noting the growth Workday has undergone over the past few years, Chano Fernandez said there was one way in which Workday is shrinking: downtime.

“I’m pleased to announce that effective February 1, we're reducing our weekly maintenance window from four hours to three hours every week,” he said. “We’re also reducing our monthly and quarterly maintenance windows by one hour each, resulting in 52 hours of planned maintenance reduction each year.”

“This move enables us to continuously drive forward together, on the same version of our platform, always,” Fernandez added. “We’re excited to speed up this process so you can focus your time on delivering for your customers and making an impact.”

Workday Rising Europe attendees also heard from Jeff Gelfuso, Workday’s chief design officer, including how our redesigned user experience is helping customers adapt in a changing world. And, we heard from David Somers, general manager, oCHRO products, on how our next-generation skills technology supports the future of work.

Other Workday leaders who took the stage to share our vision included Ali Fuller, general manager, employee experience; Phil Chambers, general manager, Peakon; Sayan Chakraborty, EVP product and technology; and Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer.

“Changemakers—all of you here with us—are writing the playbook for the future of your company right now.”

Pete Schlampp Pete Schlampp Chief Strategy Officer Workday

Workday Changemaker Customers Rise to the Challenge

Robynne Sisco, co-president, Workday was joined on stage by customers Magda Gonzalez, CFO, Monex Europe Limited, Peter Keery, finance transformation director, Veolia UK, and Matt McManus, group head of finance, Kainos.

Next it was the turn of Workday customers to share their incredible stories of digital transformation. After two-plus years of navigating constant change, leaders from finance, HR, and IT took to the stage for a series of role-based vision keynotes, explaining how they have pushed forward and innovated against a backdrop of uncertainty.     

In the session “The CFO as Value Partner to the Next Evolution of Finance,” Robynne Sisco, co-president, Workday was joined on stage by customers Magda Gonzalez, CFO, Monex Europe Limited, Peter Keery, finance transformation director, Veolia UK, and Matt McManus, group head of finance, Kainos. The panel discussed how finance leaders are using data, technology and talent to deliver better business outcomes. 

Monex CFO Gonzalez, discussing how finance has moved from being a traditional business partner to being a value creation partner for the broader business, said,

“Sixty percent of our P&L is related to our staff costs. So that really generates concerns in the business if we don't have data by level that allows us to take decisions very quickly, especially during the beginning of the year when there was a lot of movement in the market. To get information together in one source allows us to be very agile when we look to retain people. We were able to successfully retain forty employees who had offers from other businesses because we could access information quickly and respond to their circumstances.”

In the session “Going Further in a Post-pandemic World,” Clare Hickie, Workday’s EMEA CTO, was joined on stage by technology leaders Russell Smith, head of enabling units, IT, AstraZeneca; Ebrahim Samodien, CIO, group services, Absa; Paul Wright, chief digital and information officer, Accuride Corporation; and Sal Companieh, CIO, Cushman & Wakefield. Amongst the topics covered were reducing IT complexity, eliminating data silos, and overcoming the barriers to technology innovation.

Discussing the importance of having confidence in your data when it comes to ESG, Smith from AstraZeneca said, “We believe the future depends on healthy people, healthy society, and a healthy planet. We believe that these elements are interconnected and together we must build a sustainable future. We publicly share our ambitious goals against each of these ESG areas and produce comprehensive annual reports tracking progress. And when you provide this level of transparency, the data has to be accurate.” 

Next up it was the turn of the people leaders. Richard Doherty, senior director solution marketing, Workday, moderated a session with Yee Lin Chong, head, HR technology & HR digital solutions center of excellence​​ at Air Liquide; Dietmar Knoess, global director people & organisation, Puma; and Kerri-Ann O’Neill, people & transformation director, Ofcom. High on the agenda were the topics of employee experience and engagement, and also the importance of data in understanding skills gaps.

On the subject of adaptable leadership, Puma’s Knoess said, “The more adaptable the leader, the more adaptable their people are. If you show you are willing to learn new things, then your team will do the same. In the end it’s all about leading by example.”

Industry Experts Offer Advice on Thriving Through Change

During the industry keynotes, we heard firsthand from industry experts who provided attendees with insights and advice on some of the challenges facing their sector.

Emerging financial services trends are challenging executives to rethink and adapt to changing business models, drive innovation and retain and engage their employees. Trevor Williams, former chief-economist at Lloyds Bank, joined Workday’s Viren Patel, strategic industry advisor for financial services, to discuss the future of financial services, and offered attendees advice on how to tackle industry challenges head-on and how to adapt to changing business conditions and drive innovation.  

“Demographics are changing,” said Williams. “On 15th November the 8 billionth person in the world was born. It took 11 years to get from 7 billion people to 8 billion. We’re likely to peak at 10.5 billion. Just eight countries over the next seventy years will see population growth: five in Africa, and three in Asia. The economic geography of the world is shifting. There’s a redistribution of the world’s population and there’s a redistribution of where workers come from as a result of that.”

Whether tackling supply chain, economic instability, or skills shortages, manufacturing companies have a lot on their plate. How do they plan for the future when today’s challenges keep shifting? Peter van Manen, former managing director at McLaren Electronics, joined Rufino Chiong, Workday’s head of industry, EMEA, to discuss parallels between Formula One race car development and how the manufacturing industry can solve some of its most fundamental challenges. 

“When you do something new, people get scared. Managing that is one of the most important parts. Deliver what is important for your business, and your customers, and work with your people to remove friction and road blocks,” said van Manen

Emerging business models, volatile markets, and a soaring demand for fresh content were on the agenda for the session “The Future of Tech & Media: Adapt, Innovate and Thrive.” 

The tech and media industry has been defined by change from its very inception, and Jeremy White, senior innovation editor at WIRED magazine sat down with Sarah Glover, global industry director, tech & media solution marketing, Workday to share his insights on how companies in the sector can drive growth, embrace innovation, and succeed in a highly competitive environment.

“The truth is most businesses have no idea what to do with data. For technology and media companies, the key question is what are the gains, and what do they want to take from their data,” said White.

Fewer sectors have been hit harder than retail and hospitality when it comes to inflation, evolving consumer behaviour, talent shortages, and growing worker expectations. In the session “The Future of Retail, Consumer Goods & Hospitality: Adapt, Innovate and Thrive,” Jeremy Schwartz, former CEO of The Body Shop and Pandora, shared his insights on how organisations need to transform, and gave the audience advice on how CHROs and CFOs can build a business case for change.

Speaking to Laurent Homeyer, industry advisor retail & hospitality, Workday, Schwartz said, “We don't spend enough attention or care to adapt our technology to help the frontline staff.”

News and Announcements

Finally, let’s take a look at our news announcements from Wednesday.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we announced today, check out the press releases distributed by our public relations team at the Newsroom on To read all editions of the Workday Rising Europe Daily, visit the Workday Blog.

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