There have been numerous studies and articles published on how a positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced and, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees. Leaders that promote the positive work culture are admirable. Hui Wu-Curtis is one such admirable business leader who believes that a positive work culture is not only a necessity, but imperative to organization’s continued growth. She is currently the CEO at World Connection. She truly believes that everything begins and ends with people. She says, “The talent that you attract to your organization, the talent that you grow within your organization, and the talent that you retain — all add to your overall success.”
Leading Successfully even through Tough Times
Hui joined World Connection in January 2020 as the President/COO to provide leadership, management, and vision to help grow and evolve the organization. Shortly after she joined, COVID hit, and the world changed dramatically. Like everyone else, the pandemic forced World Connection to pivot quickly in this environment but, being a business process outsourcing company (BPO) that handles the customer service, sales, technical, and back-office support for other organizations, it was imperative that it paid special attention to the needs of its employees, as they represent other company brands. World Connection worked quickly as a team to get all its employees working from home at both its Guatemala City, Guatemala and Boise, Idaho contact centers before either of the governments created mandates. The organization was fortunate to have had the infrastructure in place to move over 700 people home in a matter of three days. The biggest achievement in all this shuffle was that Hui’s leadership team managed to do all of it with little to no impact on its clients’ business.
As many industries were hard hit by the pandemic, World Connection was diversified enough to have fared well during this turbulent and uncharted time. At the end of 2020, though World Connection lost some clients due to COVID’s negative impact on their industries, the company still managed to grow compared to the prior year. The company had a strong 2020 with many achievements and, in March 2021, the board of directors made the unanimous decision to promote Hui into the CEO role for World Connection.
Creating Positive Work Culture
In its culture at World Connection, the company ensures that there is a strong alignment with its core values of empowering its employees, creating a safe environment to fail and learn, and providing a judgement-free zone. Hui is often involved in many elements of the operations, so it is not uncommon for her to be a part of meetings at all levels, whether it be listening and learning or providing feedback and support. She also observes her leadership team to ensure that they are promoting a positive work culture.
World Connection partners with Human Resources, Marketing and Communications, and Talent Development/Training to showcase accomplishments, promote health and well-being for its employees, and review/change its policies and procedures to ensure that it is employee-centric, and it always looks for ways to evolve as a company. It also conducts surveys and focus groups at all levels of the organization, in addition to doing regular Q&A sessions with the executive team, and thus, provides open channels of communication and transparency. It is through all these elements and activities, and many others, that World Connection promotes its positive work culture. Hui strongly believes that — regardless of your position in the organization — each person matters, every person deserves respect and equal opportunity to grow and learn. It takes every person rowing in the same direction for all of us to succeed.
Exceeding Expectations of Clients
Hui is very operations-focused, and she works closely with her leadership team to ensure that their approaches to and management of their clients meet and exceed their expectations. “Meet and exceed” has become a soundbite, and may sound a bit trite, but knowing what she wanted when she WAS the client, she proactively works with her leadership team to deliver value and innovation for their clients.
Another aspect of management skill of Hui is to keep abreast of what is happening in the business, verticals, and markets of their clients. By learning and truly understanding their business, she develops stronger business acumen amongst her leadership team. World Connection mentors and coaches its leaders, not only to consistently perform, but to understand the business so they can run their operations like it is their business.
Creating Growth Opportunities for Women
World Connection loves to coordinate volunteer events and give back to the communities in which its people work and live. Since the pandemic has (mostly) halted those efforts, it has had to be more creative in terms of its sponsorship and contributions to the community. World Connection is a sponsor of the CCWomen Meet-Up series through CCWDigital, and Hui provides support in these types of panel discussion or meet-ups, with both women and men, to discuss topics such as gender and race in the workplace. Hui sees hearing and sharing stories in this CCWomen network as a way to give back to the professional community.
In terms of providing growth opportunities for women, under tenure of Hui Wu-Curtis, this has become a key initiative for World Connection, as she has always been a huge advocate. For this year, she is partnering with various support departments to build a comprehensive approach to creating these opportunities through support and preparation. This includes bringing to light education on unconscious bias, barriers for women, perceptions, and the importance of mentorship and coaching. World Connection will measure the results versus baseline as each initiative is rolled out and in progress. Hui feels it is important that one should come full circle on growth opportunities for women, first by understanding the movement of women in one’s organization. What positions are they are moving into? Is there a lack of movement in certain positions and, if so, why? With these insights, one can craft programs to lessen the gaps that are identified and measured before/after for overall effectiveness.
Continuing Trajectory for Smart Growth
Hui Wu-Curtis believes that World Connection has a unique opportunity to continue to develop its differentiation and find its niche. She is incredibly competitive and love doing what most people think is impossible, so she looks forward to this adventure with her team at World Connection.
In the next five years, World Connection will continue its trajectory for smart growth and expand the diversity of its portfolio. Internally, World Connection will continue to develop business-savvy leaders at all levels and build upon its bench strength of talent. World Connection will also continue to be creative, innovate, agile, and forward-thinking in its space. She often tells her leadership team that you don’t have to belong to a large corporation to come up with good ideas. Innovation and creativity comes in all different shapes and sizes.
In her advice to upcoming women entrepreneurs, she says “Find yourself mentors upon whom you can call for advice, brainstorm with, or use as a sounding board. That personal coaching, and gleaning off their knowledge and experience, is invaluable for one’s own learning and development. And never stop learning!”
She adds, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Just fail fast and move on. Be concise in your communication. Be genuine and transparent. Have the courage and grit to do the right things. The right things are never the easiest, but the rewards will follow. Lastly, surround yourself with people smarter than yourself and strong leaders who compliment you. Collectively, as a team, you can make anything possible, and do some pretty amazing things along the way.”