I’ve been at Shell for 12 years now. I started out as one of the pioneering members of HR Services in Manila, when we were just 11 people. Over a 7-year period, I became the head of HR and we managed to grow the centre to 180 people.
From here I became the General Manager of our Manila operations, which involves enabling SBO’s business areas: HR, Finance, OTD, Customer Operations and Contracting & Procurement. All told, this amounts to about 3,500 people who I’m looking to support from a central function. I facilitate these teams by dealing with the external-facing matters— things like our license to operate, financial support, preparing local statements and HR matters. Oh, and I haven’t actually given up on the HR side of things – I’m actually still taking that on as part of a dual-role. It keeps my options open!
My Leadership Style
My default leadership style is to reach a consensus. I like to collect everyone’s opinions and views before making decisions in an effort to democratise the way we work. I want people to be free to speak their minds and share their views.
You may not also have everyone agreeing, but if you collect everyone’s input, you at least have clear explanations as to why you’re moving the team forward in a certain direction.
While this is something that I’ve modelled from my mentors, it’s also an approach embedded in the environment. It’s part of Shell’s culture to be collaborative and open, and so it’s the kind of leadership style that is easily nurtured here.
Closing the Generation Gap
7 years ago, we had a challenge around employee engagement. The leadership’s views differed from the millennial employees in the centre. I wanted to try and close this gap and get everyone aligned behind Shell’s core values of honesty, integrity and respect.
So I thought, why don’t we create a platform that works for both generations and delivers meaningful results?
I created Go Green, an inter-floor competition in which people gain points for adhering to Shell principles and programs, such as energy conservation and management, waste management, and safety, as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives and our Shell Core Values. The underlying idea was to create a harmonious relationship between leaders and staff, while increasing productivity and engagement.
I created this gamified platform because Generation Y does not want to be told what to do; they are motivated by competitions and receiving rewards. While our Gen X’s could be fully intentional about their learning and champion their beliefs, it also offered an element of visual fun and competitive engagement for the millennials in our team.
I’m really proud to say that the Go Green programme created a lot of cohesion, as well as eliminating any safety incidents and conflicts of interest; none have been reported in the five years since the program has been running. Now everyone feels ownership of our safety initiatives, and I’ve seen people actively intervene to maintain these behaviours, from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
What have I learned from this success? You need to have a creative style of leadership in this environment. A traditional one simply won’t work.
Where Your Values are Valued
The most important thing I’ve learned is that you should stay in a career when you see your own personal values reflected in the company’s values. Our values are why we exist as human beings, so if you don’t see that alignment in your job, why stay?
Many companies can provide you with leadership development or global opportunities, but your values are something that are entirely personal to you. If you see them in a company, and you see them in action, not just being paid lip-service, then that is a rare and great opportunity.
For me, it’s an alignment that’s very real. I’ve been here for 12 years and I can say I have always loved this company and continue to do so to this date. I’m inspired to come to work every day because the leaders’ hearts are in the right place and I see they are working to make their values a reality.
My philosophy as a leader is that there needs to be a full alignment of your head, heart and hand. First, you need to study hard, develop strategies and think about your vision and mission – that’s the head. Then these should be translated into actions – the hand. And finally, you need to have the right intention behind why you’re doing things, because you genuinely care about the people around you and the company you’re working for – and that’s leading with the heart.
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