In the following interview, EADA Alumnus Rodrigo De Oliveira, who graduated from the Executive MBA in 2017, talks about the importance of innovation when delivering value. According to Rodrigo, innovation is the path to a greener economy and the development of resource-efficient processes. In his current role as Chief of Staff Global Customer Operations at AXA Partners, Rodrigo pursues the purpose of generating a positive impact from a holistic perspective and contributing to a better world.
In your opinion, what is a professional or a manager with a purpose?
In terms of being a manager with a purpose, I share the AXA Partners’ purpose which is to protect what matters. For us, what matters is the customer and how we deliver the service and the assistance they need. We use innovation to always think one step ahead of how to deliver a service with added value for our customers. I would say my purpose in life is to never stop innovating.
What can professionals do to align a company’s purpose with the common good?
One piece of advice I would give to professionals is to look outside of the company when redesigning your value proposition. This means understanding the needs of the customers, the market and what the company needs to be able to deliver this value to its customers. It is also important not to lose sight of the broader perspective and know about your operations: how is the company providing meaningful services to its customers and how the company impacts on society, the environment or the economy. In my opinion, this is the most relevant need to fulfil when talking about the purpose of a company.
What is your purpose in life and work?
I think my purpose in life and work is to always generate a positive impact from a holistic perspective. In the company, it is important to continue innovating, deliver continuous value and constantly challenge the status quo of operations to understand how things can be done differently. It is also necessary to focus on the environmental impact because we all share the same planet and we need to operate our businesses and deliver services in a sustainable way.
How have you committed to contributing to a better world?
In customer operations, we design new procedures and deliver new services to customers. We facilitate their lives protecting what is important for them and take care of their wellbeing. We also look after the wellbeing of our employees by designing operating procedures that facilitate their jobs and support their daily tasks in order for them to develop. We therefore create a double positive impact on society. We have also developed new processes with a reduced carbon footprint by choosing providers that have a lower impact on the environment by using a better sourcing policy for the products they use.
What achievements would you highlight from your current role in operations?
One of my achievements was my role in delivering a digital customer journey to AXA Partners customers by putting innovation at the service of customer needs. Through automation and digital interactions, we have also reduced our carbon footprint and made our processes much more agile. The second achievement is focused on agility in customer operations. AXA Partners is currently deploying agile principles throughout the organisation which involve new ways of performing tasks as well as a new way of thinking. By acting on corporate culture, you facilitate the take-up of innovation by making every single employee of the company a part of this innovation process and this transformation.
How important is innovation in the green economy?
Innovation is definitely the path to a greener economy. The fact that you are able to rely on innovation to design and rethink your processes in a more resource-efficient way in order to deliver them faster or by asking yourselves whether you need to keep offering this service because this need does not exist anymore.
How would you define a business with a purpose?
I think a business with a purpose is a business which is totally and exclusively oriented to an existing need of its customers and society. It needs to fulfil a purpose of delivering operations but within the broader perspective of the impact it will have on the environment and society. It also needs to focus on a whole set of interactions that exist between your business and any satellite businesses, as well as the whole value chain of services the company is delivering.
How did EADA’s Executive MBA help you to achieve your goals?
There were two main contributions from the EMBA. The first was the broad transversal view of the different functional areas of the company and understanding very clearly that a decision taken within operations is not exclusive to operations and can create an impact across the whole organisation. This ability to frame decisions and actions within the broader context of the company was definitely a significant contribution for me. Another important aspect of the EADA EMBA was learning about the importance of looking after talent. People are the building blocks of an organisation and that by offering opportunities for growth and making them part of an agile strategy creates empowerment on their path to development.
What challenges do organisations need to address urgently?
From a social perspective, there is a need to raise awareness of the need for inclusion and for diversity to be one of the values of the company so that everyone forms part of its talent base. From the financial perspective, it is very important to use financial resources rationally as it has an impact on the environment. For example, organisations need to address decarbonising their investment portfolios. Finally, it is important to be very aware of the environmental footprint a company leaves regardless of its size. We all need to operate responsibly with a strong focus on the environment.
What is your next challenge in terms of purpose?Firstly, to continue to innovate in customer operations. Innovation is a key aspect at AXA Partners and we can always improve. My second aim is to continue to support this agile culture within operations because this changing mindset, this empowerment of our teams, this way of doing things differently, is a strong catalyst for innovation. Also, the possibility of working directly with innovation also allows us to work with transversal initiatives that will impact on the whole organisation in order to create change.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?It is a difficult question, as the context is currently very volatile, but I would like to continue working in customer operations. We still have a long way to go in terms of changing how we operate and I definitely want to be part of our transition to a more technological operating model with a lower environmental footprint. I would like to combine this with forming part of a key contribution to the development of our human resources to make AXA Partners an even better place to work.