From BRM to CIO
I have been CIO with Mark Anthony Group for barely three months and it’s been an amazing ride already.
My story as CIO is still being written.
In preparation to be a keynote storyteller I asked myself, how has Business Relationship Management (BRM) impacted my journey?
Well, let me tell you…
I began volunteering in 2013, the year BRM Institute was founded. It was my way of giving back and supporting the global BRM community. Little did I know, this experience would transform me as a technology professional, as an individual and as a leader. Through BRM, I found my purpose and built lasting relationships. BRM changed my mindset which ultimately strengthened my leadership capacity. Let’s dive deeper into the themes which have proven most important in shaping my story – purpose, relationship, mindset, and leadership.
After an unusual turn of events, I ended up in a technology career and, ultimately became a CIO. However, this was not supposed to be. When I was growing up, my dream was to have a successful career in finance and accountancy working for the biggest conglomerate in my home country, the Philippines. This company is the San Miguel Beer Corporation. As a kid, that was my goal. After high school, I was accepted to one of the best finance and accountancy university programs in my country and I was ready to get started on my dream.
In 1993, my parents went to the university in Manila to enroll me. In those days, you had to physically enroll at the university and my parents were doing this for me. Soon after, I got a call from my mom. She said, “We forgot your birth certificate at home and it’s a mandatory requirement for enrollment.” Long story short, I lost my accountancy slot which was a quota program and was relegated to Information Technology (IT). I went into the program thinking I’d shift to Accountancy the following semester, but here I am in IT 27 years later.
Ironically, my younger brother is a finance manager in San Miguel today. He is very happy, but I can’t imagine doing what he does. I am happily where I’m supposed to be.
Declare Your Dreams
At BRMConnect 2018 in San Diego, I shared a framework used to find purpose which is centered around reflection and actions within three concepts: story, beliefs and aspirations.
Story – is the context of who you are. It’s your personal journey. Your story evolves as you go through life and professional experiences. Your stories shape who you are.
Beliefs – is what you believe in, your ideology will give you the compass you need to remain consistent and likeable over time. It drives your behavior and mindset.
Aspirations – are what you want to be, it is the idealistic view of what you want.
Deep reflection and determined action toward one’s story, beliefs and aspirations are when purpose-finding becomes self-sustaining and powerful. Deep reflection can sustain inspiration for your purpose but without action, it can’t sustain itself; without action, the purpose is just an inspiration.
In San Diego, I called out my aspirations and my dreams to become CIO.
Visualizing your goals and desires solidifies your intention. Solid intention opens your heart and mind to the people, resources, and the help needed to realize them. There is amazing power in visualizing your intention, it is the origin of action! For me personally, discovering purpose is accomplished through reflecting and acting on your stories, beliefs and aspirations. If you get lost, do it again and again.
Roughly 11 years ago, I started to venture into some serious blogging. At the time, I was working for CEMEX, a global building materials company, and I remember attending a townhall meeting hosted by CEMEX USA’s EVP, Ira Fialkow. After his talk, Ira came over to me and said, “Hey, I read your blog and I love it.” Ira was the boss of my boss’s boss so, you can just imagine what it was like for me. Our interaction started a mentor-mentee relationship which continues to this day.
Months later, I met Vaughan Merlyn, a sought-after management consultant online and one of the co-founders of BRM Institute. At first, we were just collaborating and engaging with each other through our respective blogs. Simple collaboration led to emailing, and to phone calls. One such call, Vaughan told me, “If you ever need anything or would like advice or talk about IT, you can call me anytime.” Through my relationship with Vaughn I found free consulting, a mentor and a friend.
Vaughan invited me to join BRM Institute in 2013 as one of the founding members. A year after, I took on a role at Constellation Brands as VP BRM. The executive recruiter discovered me through BRM Institute with CEO Aaron Barnes’ recommendation.
This year, I found myself in countless calls with many of my mentors to explore the CIO opportunity with Mark Anthony Group. There are many others I learned from in my vast relationship network: Ibrahim Jackson, Sheila Smith, Arnie Weatherall, Roy Youngman, Peter Lijnse, Aaron Monroe, Sergio Zarate, Kip Fanta. The list is seemingly endless.
This is the power and value of my BRM community – which has been so good to me – manifested in the strength of my relationships. This is an example of accessing infinite value through relationships. If I take a moment and think about the best work relationships I’ve ever had and picture them in my mind, I think about these people. In a great relationship, individuals invest in each other. They become partners, mentors, friends.
Fortunately, before the pandemic, I was able to travel home to the Philippines to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. Before my trip, I reached out to the head of my hometown alma mater to pitch an idea. Spending time giving back to my old high school by speaking to upcoming high school graduates was something I desired to do. I spoke in an auditorium full of graduating students for an hour, sharing steps to a purpose-driven career. When the students spontaneously sang a happy birthday song for my father when I introduced him, was my favorite part of the day.
In the past, I’ve viewed leadership mainly as an exercise of power performed by particular individuals in leadership positions. To me, those were the individuals with the leadership traits and behavior.
Maintaining a goal-oriented, driven and focused mindset, I aspired to achieve those leadership positions. I pushed myself every step of the way, which got me to a certain point. Unfortunately, I became stuck for a few years. In fact, in 2009, I strongly considered investing time and money to attend a premium MBA program thinking it was a career booster or my way up the leadership chain. I seriously looked at several programs, researched options and did my financial analysis.
I remember consulting with my mentor, Ira. He immediately commented how I could be mortgaging my future by going in that direction. He said, “Knowing you, I believe you can achieve your goals just working out your strengths.” His advice struck me like a bolt of lightning. Immediately, I realized my mindset was wrong. Ultimately, what I needed to do was to expand my network, connect and engage. One way to expand your network is to give your time, to volunteer and to mentor others. By giving back you receive so much in return; you sharpen your knowledge by learning from others and you find mentors.
My renewed resolve to focus on others and add value to them inspired me even more. It eventually increased the energy of those I partnered with and the teams I led.
• I volunteered and led various teams at BRM Institute
• I doubled down on mentoring others which energized me and I learned a lot in the process
• I gave back where and when I could
Look for opportunities to give your time to others and volunteer. In my experience, the return will surprise you.
Instead of an MBA, BRM became my accelerator. I learned the most important shift anyone must make to become a leader is from a soloist to a conductor; from a soloist to an orchestrator; from a soloist to magic-in-the middle. You can be a successful person on your own, but not a successful leader. I aim to be a successful leader.
Now, I see the essence of leadership in a more practical way. I see leadership as a practice rather than residing in the traits or behaviors of particular individuals. I realize the potential in driving leadership that is convergent, collaborative, collective, and compassionate.
During my Philippine trip earlier this year, I jumped into the Ulot River, or Monkey River translated from the local dialect. So-called wooden torpedo boats powered by a 16-horsepower engine, cut through rapids at speeds of up to 160 kph. We got to a point where I could jump into the river and get swept away several hundred meters, eventually clinging to a rope which pulled me to safety. I did the jump twice!
You know the feeling when you’re determined to do something and you’re really excited about it, but you’re scared at the same time? You’re ready to act, but you keep finding excuses to delay because of fear.
Maybe it’s because you’re:
- Telling yourself it might not work
- Not confident about what you know
- Afraid of what other people will think or say about you
- Focusing on your previous failures
Every single one of these thoughts and feelings is driven by fear, or more accurately, your mindset around fear. If you are dedicated to understanding why you feel a certain way at any given time, you have the ability to shift your mindset for the better.
When I jumped into the Ulot River, I was scared. But I was also determined to jump. When I talk about breaking through fear, I don’t mean the absence of uncertainty. As a result, I’m able to (and you can, too) embrace the fear and break through it.
BRM taught me two ways to break through fear by changing your mindset.
1. Community – surround yourself with the right people
2. Language – Cultivate the right mindset
Surrounding yourself with the right people on your journey makes all the difference.
For me, it all began with a declaration in 2018 at BRMConnect, San Diego. There, I shared how I aspired to become a CIO. I believe visualizing your goals and desires solidifies your intention. Solid intention opens your heart and mind to the people, resources, and the help needed to realize them.
Having support is unparalleled, because when you feel like you can’t take that next step – when you doubt your capabilities and fear what you have to say won’t matter – my BRM community has been there in those moments to help me move forward and break through.
The language you use when you talk to yourself and others can shift how you think, feel and perform. It can be something so simple people often overlook it. For language is a lens into one’s behavior. Meaning, the words you use to communicate are a precursor to your actions. Through the process of advancing BRM capabilities and philosophies, BRM changed the way I “speak IT”. This internal shift in language usage began a mindset cultivation process which then caused my approach to life, business and leadership to change.
Relationship-Centered Organizations are Equipped to Face any Challenge
When the collective knowledge on BRM was first assembled for the first Body of Knowledge in 2013, it centered around frameworks, processes and competencies to support BRM as a role and organizational capability. Looking back, I am in awe of how much those team efforts accomplished. The effort did not end there as BRM continues to evolve with the contributions and experiences from the single, global BRM community. The great thing about this community and its leaders is its openness and boldness to evolve.
As I reflect on the topic of my keynote, “how my CIO journey began with BRM”, it resulted in a realization which eventually became the theme: Through BRM, I found my purpose and built lasting relationships. BRM changed my mindset and strengthened my leadership capacity. I discovered what propelled my journey to become a CIO is embracing and advancing BRM as a philosophy. BRM is a mindset, a value system and a purpose-driver. I came full circle with BRM philosophy.
Business and organizational challenges have intensified due to the major impact of the global pandemic. When such challenges intensify, you may need to redesign strategies, merge or dissolve businesses, find new channels for your products, or reimagine work and go-to-market tactics. These big challenges have no easy answers.
Perhaps even more difficult, the solutions to challenges like these don’t reside only in the executive suite. Solving them requires the involvement of people throughout your organization accessed by leveraging employees’ collective intelligence and capability. This can be done through strength in relationships.
The year 2020 has been full of obstacles, tragedies and challenges. As we go through these unprecedented times, we find our resilience, our connections and our relationships are the best things we have. I think about medical workers, doctors, nurses and care givers who have been helping humanity face the emerging health concerns in the last several months. What they are doing is caring for their fellow human beings at their moment of greatest vulnerability. To me, it’s powerful and inspiring.
This is the time we need more relationship-centered groups of people, be it families, teams, or organizations. Take a moment and think about the best work relationships you ever had. Picture that person or team in your mind. Think about what you accomplished together, the fun you had, and the creative sharing and mutual growth. Now, imagine the same kind of relationship existed between you and everyone in your immediate team, your partners and peers. What could you accomplish? Nothing will stop you to evolve culture, build partnerships, drive value; satisfy purpose. This is the purpose of BRM.
Take a look at the full-length recording of Glenn’s keynote presentation given during BRMConnect Virtual 2020.