People & Strategy Spring 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 2 - 56
Tish: We are fortunate in that through
all of the change, we are left with a
workforce of entrepreneurial and
innovative spirit, which is a huge asset.
We need to tap into this to ensure we
capitalize on our first-mover instincts
from our first transformation, and apply that innovation in this new world.
P+S: In a highly-matrixed organization, what is the balance between
alignment from corporate and alignment in the businesses?
Andrés: During the next transformation, it is going to be key to have
alignment and strategic understanding across the different business units
and within corporate departments. I
believe that much of the challenges
and resistance we faced in our previous restructuring, centered on which
As opposed to jumping to conclusions,
we are much better at having each other's back and asking for clarity before
passing judgment or disagreeing.
know I do not have a hidden agenda.
Compared to other organizations, the
low level of politics is a competitive
advantage for us.
Andrés: Trust is key. We have worked
enough with each other to realize we
are all on the same page. Additionally,
it is important that we keep an open
mind for why people may have differing views. We sit in different roles, so
providing different perspectives is important. As a team, I do not think we
have ever made a major decision without hashing-out disagreements and
coming to some form of consensus.
Tish: Our relationship with the board
is a key asset. We are not just satisfying
governance needs, we are truly partnering for the success of AES.
Tom: We need to make sure that we
understand the differing opinions, but
come together in a unified team view
and ensure we each follow up according to where we landed as a team.
Our relationship with the board is a key asset. We
are not just satisfying governance needs, we are
truly partnering for the success of AES.
P+S: As you have described the AES
journey, have some of the changes
that you have made required you to
work differently as a leadership team?
Bernerd: We have a very good working environment of trust, openness,
and transparency to express ideas
and thoughts constructively. Once a
decision is made, we align quickly and
move as one team to execute. I also
think we need to continue our journey
on giving more execution responsibilities and accountability to our SBU
leaders. It's about finding the right
balance between corporate and global
thinking with local understanding of
the markets and orientation towards
results at the SBU level. The focus we
put on aligning and clear understanding of the strategy will make us more
resilient in achieving our objectives.
Tom: There are two things that come
to mind: 1) staying in touch and 2)
trusting each other. There are times
when we hear messages fourth hand
and many times the essence of the
message has been diluted or altered.
Andrés: We also have a great relationship with our board. We think of them
as an asset that helps our team be successful. A key factor in this positive relationship is the open communication.
I can argue with the board and they
businesses we were going to sell, were
due to miscommunication or misunderstandings. Just because we understand something at corporate does not
mean all of the leaders at our different businesses have the same level
of understanding. We have so much
exposure to some sets of information
at corporate that we can easily forget
that our business unit leaders do not
always have that same level of visibility
into these issues.
PEOPLE + STRATEGY
Andrés: This openness extends to the
team. For example, when Tom or Tish
or other senior executives have meetings with directors, there is no need
for me to be present. I know they have
the right intentions and are having the
Tish: Additionally for me personally,
the biggest key to our success is the
alignment we have amongst each
other. There is 100 percent alignment
between Bernerd, Andrés, Tom, and
me. We are constantly working on
projects together and we have created
a dynamic where we can be completely honest and open with each other.
Without this level of alignment, we
would not be successful. This is the
differentiator. It took a while to get
here, but it is ultimately the key to
our success as a team and as a global
P+S: What do you want stakeholders,
investors, the board, and employees to understand about AES in the
Andrés: AES is an efficient company
in a market that is rapidly changing
and becoming more competitive. We
are well-positioned to take advantage of those changes, if we establish
ourselves as the leaders in the application of new technology. Furthermore,
by being international, we can be a
bridge between more developed American markets and less developed ones,
where there is more growth and higher profit margins. If you are solely in
the American electricity market, you
are looking great today, but you are
in a market in which demand is not
growing. On the other hand, we have
a more diversified portfolio as well as
the chance to really be an important
agent of change in many markets.