Seek first to understand then to be understood.

Gloria brings in more than 25 years of work experience in core operations, client engagement, process excellence, people, and business development. A large part of her experience has been in the Business Process Transformation Industry, specifically in the Travel and Airline segment.

She switched her career to the non-profit sector during the pandemic and currently heads India, South Asia, Middle East, and Africa operations for Lions Clubs International. Established in 1917, Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, Lions Clubs International has more than 1.4 million members in more than 200 countries around the world.

Gloria has worked with Sutherland Global Services, heading the Airline vertical. Prior to working at Sutherland, she worked with Jet Airways and worked with WNS Global Services for 18 years.

Gloria has a Master’s degree in Arts and received a Diploma in Business Management from Xavier’s Institute of Management, Mumbai.

She is a trained project manager, ISO 9000 qualified auditor and earned her Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

Gloria is an avid adventure-sports enthusiast and a Sudoku fan. She works actively with her local church community as well as supports causes for children's welfare and the environment.

Thank you, Gloria, for agreeing to do this interview with us. Kindly be as candid as you can.
Let’s Start!!!
How does the pandemic year affect you? What changes, professional and personal, does it bring into your life?

The pandemic year was a year of ‘tests’ and learnings on more than one level! ?

In the beginning, it was brutal - trying to balance clients, team, resources, revenue, and costs – all while this pandemic was taking its incredible toll on our communities and the world.

It made us realize how woefully underprepared we are in the face of nature showing us who is the boss!

But we got better and broke out of the “mind shackles” on which processes could be handled as part of ‘work from home.’

On a personal front, it made me realize the value of the support system we have and that we should make every effort to reach out to our neighbors. Kindness matters!

Health is wealth. This is not a cliché. Never has this adage been truer! Do something every day to improve your physical and mental health. Walk, jog, do Zumba or Sudoku, read a book, plant a sapling – whatever gives you joy!

“TRUST” plays an important role in the success of a team, more so in a virtual environment (work-from-home). What are you doing differently to develop and sustain trust among your team members to ensure on-time delivery and a higher level of engagement? How is technology helping in sustaining the trust?

Cross-functional training and video meetings on Microsoft Teams – have helped us to keep the team engagement going as well as improve the baseline of resources required per process. We could step in for our colleagues if they needed the day off to tend to personal issues or did not have electricity or when network access was down.

At times when our work volumes were low, we used that window to train team members.

At times when our work volumes were low, we used that window to train team members.

Nothing different. We just did the simple things but did them well.

Our HR ensured we connected at least once a month just to play games. Online charades can be so chaotic and so much fun!

The new normal requires a new definition for work-life balance. In your role, do you think work-from-home is a boon or a bane? What challenges, if any, did you face in maintaining a work-life balance? What, according to you, must be the new definition of “work-life balance”?

Work from home is a boon. It has opened up many opportunities, increased the geographic boundary of talent that can be hired, enabled flexibility and convenience for all employees.

In a pre-pandemic era, after exhausting our time-off, we would have been forced to decide on whether we choose home or the job. However, this last year has allowed us to consider things differently.

Although, the line between work-life and home-life is a blur. It is a challenge, I believe, no one has yet been able to successfully balance (no matter what they claim).

The new definition of work-life balance, in my personal view, is a hybrid setup. A couple of days a week, work from an office and the rest from home. Though as an organization, due to the ever-changing situation, we have not yet formalised a policy.

You also cannot undermine the bonding and productivity boost experienced by all because the brainstorming session was done in person!

Learning is a continuous process. What are THREE leadership lessons you learned in the last 12-months?

Seek first to understand then to be understood. Stephen Covey defines this as the 5th habit in his bestselling book – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Everyone wants to be understood, valued, and affirmed. To understand, it is critical we listen. The ability to hear is a gift. The willingness to listen is a choice.

Borrowing again from Stephen Covey,sharpen your saw – have a balanced program for self-renewal in all areas of your life. Learn a little more every day, even if you feel you are an expert on that subject. Learn new things.

Adapt or be left behind – whether it’s adapting to new technology or a new mindset.

COVID-19 exposed leadership unpreparedness of a different kind. In years to come, what NEW LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES will become necessary for the success of a leader?

I do not believe that COVID -19 exposed us to a new set of leadership competencies. Empathy was always a necessity; it just needs to be prioritized.

According do you what are the essential skills and competencies of an effective manager?
  1. Communication – verbal and written communication is paramount.
  2. Change enabler – recognize what needs to change, when it needs to change and help people with managing the change.
  3. Boundaryless mindset – understand the entire chain, and how your function impacts the overall member experience chain.
How do you see the future workplace? What are the things organizations will START Doing, STOP Doing, and CONTINUE doing?
  1. START – Focusing on e-Learning with serious intent.
  2. STOP – Silo functioning
  3. CONTINUE – Investing in technology to reduce manual effort, improve processes, and improve the experience – members and team.
Lastly, what is one Career Advice you want to give to the youngsters?

Try different industries early on in your career before you zero in on an area of specialization.

If you think, you can be an entrepreneur - take the chance. Do it.

Thank you, Gloria, for your insights.
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