MBA Seminar Series– Creating a People Strategy

The MBA programme at SFU is awarded by the University of Chester (UK) which is one of the most prestigious universities in England and has international reputation in management education, training and research.

On Wednesday November 4th, we invited guest speaker Mr. Gerry Plana, CEO of Investors in People Philippines to hold a seminar for MBA students and SFU staff on ‘Creating a People Strategy’. He is Head of Human Resources in a variety of organizations and the executive director of the People Management Association of the Philippines. From the moment Mr. Plana entered the room, his personality captured everyone’s attention, and before he started his seminar, he explained that he wanted audience participation so people could share their experiences and ask any relevant questions.

Mr. Plana is a natural born leader. The meaning of a leader for him is getting things done through people- someone who truly inspires others through his ideas. If you hear the word ‘management’, Mr. Plana explained how it may have negative connotations nowadays, whereas ‘leadership’ sounds a bit more optimistic and can be related to how people want to be lead and want to achieve their goals.

In the work place, having a strong leader can be the difference between success and failure. Without a strong leader, the mismanagement of people can take a toll and that could eventually end up in a loss of sales for the company. As Mr. Plana says- “Don’t recruit more talent, develop what talent you have”. This could be seen from a leader’s perspective to not recruit too many new staff as it’s easier to manage and develop a smaller group; or, it could be seen directly for individuals to maximise what skills and gifts they have as opposed to being a Jack of all trades. If the leader does however need to recruit more staff, they should be wary enough to choose engaged employees, and those who can intellectually talk about the company in the initial interview. Companies are looking for those who go beyond what he/she’s expected to do, and not wait for orders to be given once they’ve finished their tasks. Talent, speed and a shared mindset should be crucial when selecting new members to be part of the team. You could have a top high flying fresh graduate as a candidate, but if their mindset and attitude does not match the company’s standards, you should consider how it could cause great problems in the long run.

Creating a positive working environment in the department is also down to the leader. Their energy will automatically rub off on the rest of the team since employees will feel good about coming to work, and their performance shall then reflect on the rest of the company. The workplace should be an area where employee engagement can grow by humanizing the environment, and trying to keep stress levels at a minimum. Social, spiritual, mental and economic well-being are vital elements in maintaining that positive working atmosphere. If a member of the team or the team leader has a problem in one of those areas, chances are that it won’t be long before a domino effect takes place.

Mr. Plana’s advice for those who want to become a leader is- “Forget your ego, never compete with your team members, and always consider the unique strengths of your team members. In this manner, you are well on your way to achieving great things together”.

Many thanks Mr. Gerry Plana for taking time to visit our university and for inspiring us to reach the top!

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