Liudmila Climoc, CEO Orange Romania: “Adapt, constantly learn, be open minded and stay realistically positive, by focusing on finding solutions”
“2021 is going to be the year when we will feel the impact that the sanitary crisis has had on different levels of the global economy. In business is vital to be honest and foresee the hardest times so you can prepare. Don’t stop, stay connected to what’s happening in the market, to the people around you and try to understand their needs, but be prepared for a new year filled with uncertainty,” Liudmila Climoc, CEO Orange Romania, told The Diplomat-Bucharest.
“We see that working remote is welcomed by employees, they have adapted quickly and there is huge appreciation from teams towards this new way of collaborating together. People feel more empowered to do their jobs and more flexible in organizing their work. Adapt, constantly learn, be open minded and stay realistically positive, by focusing on finding solutions.”
What leadership skills do you find most useful in the current changing work environment?
Every aspect of a leadership role has been challenged during this financial and sanitary crisis, but I can see the following 3 types of skills as the most important for a leader these days:
- More than ever before, are required the qualities of a Servant Leader, the one who focuses on creating the right conditions to help teams make the best decisions, in a collaborative matter, to drive the success of the company. Shortly, a leader willing to discover and leverage on the full potential of the organization.
- Secondly I will emphasize on the importance of being close to people, particularly now when social distancing is imposing new rules, reinforced communication is important. It’s essential to show empathy and help everyone understand we are in this together and with collaboration, transparency and a joint effort we can find the right path.
- A leader needs to be open for change, show courage in taking the toughest decisions and show confidence in the future steps the team and the organization needs to take, while passing through turbulent times.
People make the world go round and we need to focus on them and their wellbeing in order to get the best results on a long term.
Which are the empowering mindsets for building the sense of meaning & purpose, both for employers and employees, to keep each other engaged in reaching the business objectives in 2020 and in the next year?
The importance of being unified by a big purpose is reinforced as a top priority in crisis times.
As part of our adaptive strategy, at Orange, we are unified by our purpose to enrich and simplify the day to day lives of our clients, by building together the inclusive services of the future and by enabling a sustainable transformation in society.
This collective ability to project ourselves in the future, jointly define our strategic End State, align teams’ solidary efforts and deliver on this strategy is of paramount importance.
On another side during hard times people need to feel safe and protected. They need to know they are working for & with a strong, but also caring organization.
In this new context of digital acceleration, our strategy and purpose are reconfirmed and stay the same as before the crisis. This is what, in times of change and uncertainty, I think brings people comfort, but also guides them in going forward.
What should be a CEO’s and leader’s power message on business resilience conveyed to peers, partners and employees for 2021, in order to enhance the trust and engagement?
“Tough times don’t last. Strong people do.” Adapt, constantly learn, be open minded and stay realistically positive, by focusing on finding solutions.
We will stay committed to our promise to be a responsible company and act for the good of the customer, society, our people and the organization as a whole.
2021 is going to be the year when we will feel the impact that the sanitary crisis has had on different levels of the global economy. In business is vital to be honest and foresee the hardest times so you can prepare. Don’t stop, stay connected to what’s happening in the market, to the people around you and try to understand their needs, but be prepared for a new year filled with uncertainty.
We are here for our clients, partners and employees and we try and foresee how their behavior, state of mind and needs will be next year and transform in order to respond. We are in this together and with openness, transparency in communication and solidarity in finding and delivering solutions, we can get through this.
How can a CEO and leader of an organization capitalize on the current challenges to enhance and promote the company’s competition advantages currently?
Unveil the undiscovered potential of your team!
We see that working remote is welcomed by employees, they have adapted quickly and there is huge appreciation from teams towards this new way of collaborating together. People feel more empowered to do their jobs and more flexible in organizing their work.
On another side, it becomes very evident that command & control managers are less effective in these new conditions.
The current crisis has accelerated a trend that was there already: a need of change in leaders’ profiles. It showed us more clearly new opportunities to develop people and organizations, bringing the power of making decision in the hands of each team. Also, the new context is bringing into light the caring and coach type of leaders, whose main objective is to unveil and develop the full potential of their teams for much better breakthrough results.
Capitalize on digital!
An important challenge of all companies was being able to move the entire activity in online mode in a matter of days.
The need to accelerate digital channels came to the agenda of all companies, both private and public. This challenge also represents an amazing opportunity to be closer and more relevant for customers, to improve customer experience, be more efficient in operations and create added value.
Now we see a notable increase of digital products usage like My Orange, where 20% more clients are using the app for bill payments or other self-care options. Also, more and more users have turned towards digital for their daily financial operation. Orange Money reached 245.000 customers and passed another record number of 1.3 million transactions in the third trimester of 2020.
Through our Orange Business Services division we are also becoming a partner for digital transformation by delivering IT&C services for companies. The most requested during the pandemic crisis have been call center solutions, collaboration tools and cyber security solutions, showing a 24% growth in the first semester of 2020.
Today, more than ever before, we have seen the importance of a strong telecommunications infrastructure, connecting us from a distance. As part of our strategy we will continue investing in developing our network coverage and give access to as many people as possible to high speed and high quality connectivity.
Which are the current concerns of a CEO / leader in 2020? Which are the hopes for 2021?
The #1 focus for us in 2020 was to ensure service availability and quality, as telco networks were challenged by the growing demand for connectivity. The role of telco industry, as the backbone for digital economy, has been clearer than ever before and we were able to properly respond to the increased demand.
We have a responsibility not only towards all players in the economy, but towards society to deliver the best connectivity and digital services so that everyone can stay connected.
Although the role of telco is central these days, this industry is not immune to crisis. We feel the negative impact that crisis is bringing to consumers incomes and to certain business verticals heavily impacted. So, another concern is the lack of predictability that should be managed via reshaping operating models, mitigation actions to compensate crisis impact and being focused on results delivery. Next year we will continue seeing the effect of the crisis on different sectors, particularly visible in H1 2021.
Safety, health and wellbeing of employees, clients and partners have always been on the top of the list, but now have become a top priority. Today, all important business decisions are made based on these crucial requirements.
My hope for 2021 is to know everyone is safe and, with the help of public authorities, find a solution in order to overcome the challenges of this crisis and go back to seeing each other, be together again with friends and at family reunions, in meetings or during events.
And I have another conviction (rather than hope) – we will go out of this crisis much stronger, smarter and better prepared for future.
What kind of innovative measures and inclusive leadership initiatives have been applied within your organization this year, to better cope with the current context and bring the business forward in 2021?
For 4 years already, one of Orange’s development pillars is building the leadership capacity within the organization and preparing the company for future. We have a comprehensive program addressing this objective.
We stick to our commitments that are even more relevant and important in pandemic times, through a system to develop teams’ potential, further building on Leader as a Coach skill. For 2 years we have invested in complete 4-months coaching courses for 50 leaders in the organization, working on behavioral change, on the very core of our DNA, helping leaders become more effective and successful.
This work has been integrated into the ATOM program – our leadership development program that aims at developing skills that we consider essential for any manager: from working agile to managing change.
Another great achievement was capitalizing on internal expertise through Lead Yourself program for employees. We’ve put in place a community of experts in various fields, but especially on competencies related to our core business, IT&C skills etc. The scope of this community is to disseminate knowledge and expertise inside the organization on IT&C topics with the help of our colleagues. It’s a sharing experience that helps keep people together.
What also made a difference in helping us to better cope with the current situation was a rather “classical” measure, specific to our organization – we kept our people close to us. We openly and constantly communicated with them about the measures we are taking, the next steps and also gave access to wellbeing or counseling programs. Care and transparency help people feel empowered and gives the whole group the feeling that they are stronger together.