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Driving Transformation: Culture management, re-alignment, and breaking the silo mentality

A talk by Jose Luis Fernandez Blanco
CFO, Spain, Olam

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About this talk

DRIVING TRANSFORMATION THROUGH THREE STEPS Good morning, most welcome, and thanks a lot for being there. Hope you and your beloved ones are all Ok despite current tough times. I would like to share with you my experience about how I performed in order to move a business from underperformer to top performer after a transnational acquisition. This is the case of a multinational listed company in Asia acquiring a non-listed company in Europe. It was done through three basic steps: - Step 1: Culture Management - Step 2: Re-Alignment - Step 3: what I call Breaking the “Silo” Mentality, we will come back to it later.

First things first Step 1: Culture Management My view is that before making any change: - You have to understand what is culture. Culture is how thinks work for a group of people. So, you have first to understand how things work for different groups of people. - You have to understand that in an acquisition, both cultures are new to each other, the acquiring company culture is new for the people in the acquired company and the acquired company culture is new for the people in the acquiring company. - And this is key: as a starting point, none of them is better or worse than the other one. - Then, you need a team; you are not superman, you cannot do it alone. - BUT you need an aligned team, this is, a group of people sharing the same values and sharing the same vision. - Following with people, unfortunately sometimes some people are to be replaced for the benefit of the entire organization and those changes are to be very well not only explained but very well understood by the full company to avoid miss-understandings and, the most important, to avoid creating un-productive noise. - And this is when communication comes into play. Many times, we just focus on explaining and, you will agree with me, most of us believe that we explain things very well, right? However, this is not enough, the focus is not on explaining but on being understood. Please, keep this message in mind: you do not explain things properly till the time when your full audience fully understand what you mean. Or, in a different way, communication is not about sending a message but about having the ability of being understood by your full audience, not only by those alike you. When running a company, you will need to have conversations with very different sets of people, from shareholders and board members, to people in operations or in the labour committee. In order to be successful, you need to have the ability of being understood by all of them, this is what communication is all about.

Let us move to Step 2: Re-Alignment My personal motto is: “I am not in finance; I am in business through finance”. This motto was communicated, first to my direct team, and then to all the different departments (“silos”) in the company, both at a local level (in Europe) and at a corporate level (HQ in Asia). But what does this motto really mean? It means acting and behaving not only as CFO but going much further acting and behaving as CEO and Shareholder, moving away from the “my department or my silo” mentality. We must keep in mind that only mature people are willing to move away from a “silo or department” mentality to a CEO or shareholder mentality. To do things more complex, we must understand that maturity is not related to the position of a person in the organization chart, you need to have the ability to identify that level of maturity. How can you do it? By having one to one conversation, deep conversations I mean. That way, I was able to identify some key players both in the acquiring and in the acquired company (remember that, at that time, I was a newcomer both for the local company in Europe and for the HQ in Asia). Those key players were the Partners or “Apostols “ I used to spread the new mentality throughout the company.

And then Step 3: Breaking the “silo mentality” But the most important is not communicating or explaining what the motto means. Change happens only when you show what you mean, when you lead by example, that is the cracking point. Leading the change means that you are the first in showing your values, so that others can easily understand, follow and behave accordingly. How did We behave / what did We show? We can summarise it as: - Hard-working while being flexible and optimistic. - Delivering well in time and above expectations because not delivering is not an option. - Setting an example for any stakeholder without being afraid of being different. - Engaging teams through trust and confidence, giving continuous and sincere feedback. I feel that, as a leader, giving feedback is a moral obligation. - Challenging others while giving importance to personal values and relationships. - Implementing a team mindset: who knows what I do not know?

People from Finance started working very closely with other departments to cover their gaps, learn from them, implement the new culture and lead the change.

To make it simple, all you need is: A Clear purpose + Good management + Strong team + Hard work + Dedication. In my case, we put the focus on the customer, we work for our customers, customer is in the centre of the organization, the customer is the boss. Now, let us move to LEDERSHIP STYLE What kind of leadership style is required? I call it INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP. What do I mean by inclusive leadership? - It is a leader who takes a collaborative and facilitative approach as opposed to one characterized by command and control. - A leader who operates transparently rather than behind closed doors. - A leader who is culturally agile and flexible, not tied to their own worldview. - A leader who is able to fully embrace and leverage the vast diversity of today’s workforces. - A leader who can create a safe space, regardless of what is happening externally, where people feel accepted and empowered to give the best of their talents. What are the key competencies of inclusive leaders? There are five key competencies: 1. Builds interpersonal trust, this is, someone who:  Values differences  And someone who instills trust. 2. Integrates diverse perspectives, this is, someone who:  Balances stakeholders  And someone who manages conflict 3. Optimizes talent, this is, someone who:  Drives engagement  Someone who develops talent  And someone who collaborates 4. Applies an adaptative mindset, this is, someone:  With global perspective  Someone who cultivates innovation  And someone able to adapt to different situations 5. Achieves transformation, this is, someone:  With Courage  Someone who persuades  Someone who drives results Just to finish, Inclusive Leadership is an expanding sphere: first lead yourself, then lead your team and them lead the organization.

Hope you have enjoyed this time with me. Thank you very much for your patience and your attention. It would be great starting a conversation with you. Thank you

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