Interview with Julien Baehni, Chief of Human Resources at UEFA

Julien Baehni is the Chief of Human Resources at UEFA. The European football's governing body was named earlier this year one of the Most Attractive Employers in Sport by a report published by iWorkinSport. This is one of five interviews with top recruiters in the industry featured in the publication.

The study surveyed more than 1,600 people from all continents, with the majority already working in sport, and asked them a simple question: “If you could choose to work anywhere in sport, where would that be?” 

Initially, the respondents chose organisations divided into nine categories, and at the end, they indicated one single preferred choice, overall – the “Employer of their Dreams”.

The publication features rankings of the most attractive employers in sport divided in the following categories:  Football Clubs, Sports Teams (other than Football), Sports Teams in the USA, Sports Leagues, Sports Governing Bodies, Event Organisers, Sports Marketing Agencies, Sponsors, Sporting Goods Companies and Sports Tech.

Additionally, the report presents the aspects that candidates rate as most important when deciding where they would like to work.

Why do so many people wish to work at UEFA?
Sport is a sector that many people are attracted to. With football being the world’s most popular sport, there is a natural tendency to gravitate towards the football industry.
In regards to UEFA, there is certainly a lot of excitement in having the opportunity to work and contribute to a wide range of football competitions, which take place throughout the year. Thanks to the excellent work and depth of knowledge that our staff possess, we are able to deliver high quality events that are watched and enjoyed by millions of people around the globe. 
Finding a purpose in what we do professionally has become critical for many of our staff and UEFA., This is achieved by developing European football, creating memorable moments and conveying positive values such as respect and unity.

What makes UEFA a great employer?
There is the excitement of having the opportunity to work at some of the world’s most prestigious
sports events, which creates a special atmosphere and culture.
Our employees also have the opportunity to leave a legacy in football by working at UEFA and also have an impact on people and society through football.
UEFA staff are given the chance to work at various events, on top of their regular job, while as a sporting organisation, we encourage our employees to be active and have a healthy lifestyle, and provide them with great facilities to do so (football pitches, tennis, swimming etc).
We are proud to be the first organization in the sports sector to be EQUAL-SALARY certified and finally, many colleagues enjoy the possibility to connect their job with the organisational purpose, which makes a powerful combination.,

How can UEFA become even a better employer?
The vision that we have for our employees is to improve their overall experience and touch their emotions, by becoming even more human-centric. Before joining us and throughout their lifecycle at UEFA, and even after, we aim to offer our employees a great journey that they will remember. In order to do so, we still have work to do, for instance by optimising our tools and keeping our HR processes as user-friendly as possible. Despite representing a diverse workforce, with 50 nationalities and a rather balanced gender mix, we still have the objective to develop more women at the top management level. Another challenge is certainly to cope with the increasing need of flexibility that employees are expecting from their employers and come up with flexible solutions to accommodate this need.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams about working for UEFA?
Number 1: seize every opportunity you have to work in the sports industry. Sometimes this means starting as a volunteer at a local event. This can help creating and building your experience and a network in within sports.
Number 2 : when you are given the chance to get an interview for a job in the sports industry, get ready and be well prepared. Learn everything you can about the company, the events which are organised, and what you can bring to them. Athletes prepare themselves hard for an important competition. Do the same for a job interview.
Finally, be resilient and ready to try again if it does not work. Like in sport, we do not always manage to come first.
What are the changes caused by the covid-19 pandemic that will remain in the workplace?
Covid-19 has been a massive challenge for most companies and UEFA is no exception to this rule, especially due to the fact that large crowds often attend our events. Nevertheless, it was also an opportunity to challenge the status quo and review some of our policies and ways of delivering our events. For instance, we are now happy to be able to offer to our employees the possibility to work up to two days per week from home and we are pleased to continue having hybrid meetings. Challenging the real need to travel instead of a virtual meeting is also a reflex that will hopefully remain. Finally, we will keep in mind the fantastic team effort to successfully navigate the most hectic and challenging periods that our organisation has faced. We are One-UEFA. This helped us tremendously during the pandemic and we will continue this ethos once it eventually ends.