“Cooperate rather than compete”: Ayala CEO shares thoughts on what makes a good leader in the time of pandemic
MAKATI CITY — With the pandemic presenting novel challenges that shake companies and governments, Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala shares his thoughts on leadership that can withstand the changing times.
Zobel, a graduate of Harvard Business School, said in a webcast hosted by ATR Asset Management that no specific leadership style could work in all types of crisis. But surely, he said, people need a leader who has a point of view.
"You need to have a sense of what the future will look like. You need to have a sense of how things should be run," he said.
According to Zobel, good leaders should also be able to connect the dots, bringing together different ideas and facts and using them to create a holistic road map to a future that is far from the status quo. They must be authentic and bold, willing to take risks and go out of their comfort zones to look for the best solutions to a problem. In addition, all leaders should have empathy and be comfortable listening, understanding, and connecting to people.
"Empathy is underrated. Showing empathy in this day and age is important—understanding people, listening to them, having a sense of what's important to them," he said.
All leaders should also be sensitive to the changing needs of every generation. Zobel, who joined Ayala in 1981 as a fresh graduate, said he spent a lot of time working with non-profit organizations that gave him a view of the different social and environmental pain points faced by the country.
As the first business leader from the Philippines and Southeast Asia to be recognized by the United Nations for championing sustainability, he spearheaded the creation of a framework that is far more inclusive and engaged in addressing different social and environmental pain points. This framework is called the Ayala Sustainability Blueprint, which assigns specific UN sustainable development goals to each business unit.
“I was very happy to integrate it to Ayala because people could see that the role of a corporation goes far beyond its financial impact,” he said. “Corporations are part and parcel of the very progressive fabric of an economy. This sustainability blueprint shows the different roles we play in a society.”
Finally, Zobel highlights the importance of prioritizing cooperation rather than competition in this time of crisis. The Ayala group of companies have been actively working with the national and local governments in building facilities and setting up equipment to expand the country’s testing, tracing, and treatment capacity through Taskforce T3. The Ayala group is also working with other private companies to safely reopen the economy.
"It's cooperation that has led to significant successes in this pandemic," said Zobel, who is among the founding partners of the TaskForce T3. "It is a time for all of us to learn to cooperate rather than be at odds with each other."
For Zobel, the new normal should see private companies and the government working together to address the many pain points that the pandemic may bring. "We either succeed together or not. It is a time for all of us, particularly the private and the public sectors, to learn to cooperate rather than be at odds with each other.”
As the first business leader from the Philippines and Southeast Asia to be recognized by the United Nations for championing sustainability, Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, spearheaded the creation of the Ayala Sustainability Blueprint launched last April 2019. The blueprint assigns specific UN Sustainable Development Goals to each of the group’s companies to makes its businesses more inclusive in addressing different social and environmental pain points. “I was very happy to integrate it to Ayala because people could see that the role of a corporation goes far beyond its financial impact. Corporations are part and parcel of the very progressive fabric of an economy. This sustainability blueprint shows the different roles we play in a society,” said Zobel at the ATR Asset Management virtual webcast entitled “ESG & Sustainable Investing: The Rise of Purpose” held last October 15, 2020. (File photo: August 2019)