Comprehending technological advancements and having the know-how to successfully implement them is the most crucial responsibility of a leader. Today, many leaders strive to offer services based on market demands, while only a few focus on facilitating customer-centric, game-changing products. This leadership style and focus sets an example for others and, in turn, inspires other leaders to follow suit. One such leader is Silvia Veronese, SVP Global Customer Success at Guavus, a Thales company.
CIO LOOK admires such leaders and appreciates their contribution in evolving the business as well as the technology sector. We are proud to feature inspiring leaders like her in this issue.
Below are the highlights from an interview we conducted with Silvia:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient leader.
I believe that becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming your true self. It’s a journey that’s modified each day by every decision I make. From the drawing room to the board room it’s an ongoing process that can be derailed at any moment. It’s easy to order people to do a project or task, but that’s not leadership. Being a leader means guiding people, fostering their strengths, and helping them reach their full potential. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to recognize the strengths of each member of my team. When people know that they are valued by their leader, they become more confident in their individual capacity. Being a leader means making decisions in real-time — often with incomplete information. Under stressful circumstances, the worst thing for a leader is inaction. You must keep moving forward with confidence, knowing you have a supportive team backing you up and the expertise to make prudent choices.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to your target audience?
It’s not about trying to sell customers what they don’t want or what they should want. It isn’t about marketing your own brand, rather it’s about producing a product we know is excellent for our targeted customers. The foundation for any business is the commitment to making great products that fulfill a known or unknown need. Obviously, to accomplish this, it’s imperative to understand the market in which we participate by researching its needs and creating products to fill those voids. Like that great quote of Henry Ford, right? “If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse.”
Describe some of the vital attributes you believe every business person should possess.
Among others, some of the most important attributes every business person should embody are resilience, curiosity, understanding, and sharp instincts. Perhaps the most fundamental attribute is the patience to ask a lot of questions and truly listen to the answers. When you’re working within a small team this is easier to accomplish; however, when you move into a higher level position, and your team grows larger, this process can become arduous. Still, one must always remember that the most important task is listening to team members, peers, and customers because this will provide a clear picture of where your business stands and the issues that need to be mitigated in order to make your company flourish.
In your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges are faced by women in business? What’s your advice for overcoming them?
I can’t stress enough that complex challenges in business are commonplace and encountered daily. At any given time, there are problems both big and small that, if left unattended, can pile up and become insurmountable.
Occasionally there’s ample time to address an issue, but more often than not there isn’t. Still, a decision must be made to rectify whatever the issue may be. In this scenario, fear of making the wrong decision and failing is one’s worst enemy. As women in corporate business we are asked to prove ourselves and our value beyond any reasonable doubt. We can complain about this or we can confidently take advantage of it, using innovation and expertise to create solutions that successfully take a business to the next level.
Have you in any way contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
I believe that women empowerment is a cause to which we can all contribute daily. Women today are paving the way for women of tomorrow, the same way our mothers and grandmothers did for us. With this in mind, every time I look at a young female colleague just entering the business world it reminds me of my own daughters and the future they will inherit. I think that having more strong, intelligent women in business and the political arena will improve our society overall. Each woman and man should be committed to an equal society because tomorrow’s world will have challenges that can only be overcome if we actively support everyone’s strengths and gifts.
What are your insights on developing a better environment for women to evolve in the workplace? And how could it be helpful in growing businesses?
I feel strongly that respect is the key to making an environment fertile for everybody’s growth — not just women. There is no preferred gender when it comes to evolving as a human-being. We all must do our part in this world in order to become the best version of ourselves. I believe that people can achieve this by respecting each other and understanding that despite apparent differences; we are in reality very similar to one another. We have the same fears and dreams; we all experience sadness and joy. I would stress that with regard to business, one thing is clear: cooperation is the foundation of a healthy company. There is no growth, no achievement, no success if there is no affinity as a team. I believe that today’s society is much more open-minded with regard to business than it was in the past. I also feel optimistically that though there is much more that needs to be done, we are on the right path. Currently the technology and science sectors are paving the road with a multitude of highly talented and capable women who are integral to its future success.
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the competition in your market?
I believe in what I do, the company I work for, and my projects. I would like to stress that this is the best way to tackle any kind of competition. We are the first customers of our company, the first one to fall in love with it and believe in it. The market today is changing fast and competition is challenging, but I truly believe that the foundation of success is hard work, an open mind, and the ability to adapt. Besides that, one must choose a vision, be faithful to it, know when to pivot, and always be ready to modify a project or product if it doesn’t entirely satisfy one’s standards. You have to learn how to react under pressure and to challenge your limits because the biggest enemy in business is complacency.
With all the new technologies and changing business trends, how do you upgrade your skills to address these and advance your personal growth?
I think that growing as an individual is a matter of choice. We can all upgrade our skills and our knowledge on a daily basis. From the moment we wake up, we make a decision about what our day will look like. We can choose to sleep late, or be more productive by setting the alarm one hour earlier to make a to-do list, check the news, and go for a run. The best way to keep growing as an individual is to view each day with an open mind and can-do spirit, seeing every task as an opportunity to learn or a skill to improve.
What are your future endeavors and where do you see yourself in the near future?
Society is changing very quickly — within a few decades the way we live could be quite different. I believe that progress in technology and science are opening the way for discoveries that will not only result in innovative products, but also in new ways of learning, living and growing. That said, I’m prepared to face any challenge the future throws at me with a positive attitude and unlimited passion.