Scaling Measurable Impact

November 2, 2022

Meet Luigi Maria Fierro, an AwakeTeams advisor since the earliest days. Luigi Maria is the Global Head of HR Strategy and People Analytics at ING, where he uses advanced people analytics to guide development of overall HR strategy. Prior to joining ING, Luigi worked at McKinsey & Co. as a junior partner. He has been instrumental in helping shape the curriculum and the mechanics of the AwakeTeams program. Below he answers several questions that illuminate why we are thrilled that he is a part of AwakeTeams. 

What is unique about advising and supporting an early stage startup?

I think the most interesting and exciting part of being an advisor to AwakeTeams is that I don’t have the answers because I have never been through a startup journey. In this kind of journey it is about creating a business and a tool to help companies and people thrive from the ground up. Laura is always working on several different challenges at the same time; every day there is a new challenge that requires attention and that needs to be balanced and prioritized with all the other challenges. Since it is a small team, there is always something that we can discuss together and use our collective thinking to optimize how the product is getting to market to serve the needs of customers. This is super exciting because we are creating a new reality and dealing with challenges never faced before.

What is your favorite quote?

It is per aspera ad astra meaning that through difficulties is how you reach the stars. I think it is a very nice quote because there will always be times when things are easy and smooth. And then, as life goes, reality throws in unexpected twists and turns that require a lot of effort to just navigate through them. These times are difficult, but that is when the possibilities are greater. So this quote is a nice reminder for me, every time that I am facing difficulties, that is just the normal path to reach the stars. There are going to be great successes where difficulties are traversed.

Why do you support AwakeTeams? What makes you believe and contribute your time to AwakeTeams? 

The AwakeTeams platform really offers a unique value proposition both for the business and the individual employee or professional. The platform enables us to finally measure in a continuous, scalable, and reliable way how training is impacting both team behaviors and also performance. AwakeTeams makes it finally possible to measure the impact of a learning experience on the individuals and teams and also the outcome on the business. 

This is something that we have actually always needed, both as Human Resource professionals and also as business leaders. We need to better understand which tools, incentives, interventions move the needle on key metrics such as engagement and retention. Our current options are non-scalable measurements like post-training interviews and qualitative feedback, so AwakeTeams offers something meaningful and impactful.

What do you attribute your own success to?

I think intellectual curiosity, intellectual honesty, resilience, and perseverance. 

Intellectual curiosity because in my career, I have been able to work on many different business challenges, sectors, and companies. No two situations were exactly the same and yet I needed to create solutions and pathways to progress. I have worked on financial institutions, risk strategy, HR analytics, you name it, and actually I am an engineer by training. I am always looking for something new, something interesting, something that is keeping me engaged from an intellectual point of view. 

The second is intellectual honesty. By this I mean that whatever you say and do needs to match together. If you start having the feeling that in your problem solving or your problem structuring something is missing, then you are likely right. In those moments, you have to be intellectually honest with yourself that the solution is not quite there. 

Concerning resilience and perseverance, when you want to try to do things well, you have to be prepared that this can take quite a bit of effort and time and there will be obstacles along the way. There may be some false leads or some steps that don't quite lead where you thought they were going, and you have to be willing to learn from this. You have to take in the full picture and say guys, the last two months of work were in the wrong direction. Let's try to reconvene with the whiteboard and see where we can go by leveraging the learning of the last couple of months. 

What are your own top three tips for staying “awake” at work?

I don't want to sound too generic, but do something that you like and especially that keeps your intellectual curiosity alive. If you see something interesting, even if it's outside your comfort zone, or area of responsibility, go for it. Try to figure out how you can contribute. This is for me the most important way to stay awake every day I go to the office or more recently, I go to my room at home to work. I try to work on what I enjoy and focus on some value creation. Then, even when there are difficult days, which of course there are, if you are true to yourself and do what you like, then you can really enjoy and engage with what you are doing.

What is something about the employee experience that you think needs improvement?

I think one of the key elements is how we help people understand that investing in their own development and learning something new puts them in the lead. I think many companies work under an assumption that it is the responsibility of the company to support people in their development. This means telling them what they have to develop while in reality, we should let people choose what they want to learn at work and where they want to excel. I think more companies should enable people to choose what they want to get better at and then give them the tools to do so.

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