In conversation with Magali Viano, Director – People and Culture, Communications and Brand and Facilities, Amadeus IT Group
Companies are constantly struggling to build synthesized work cultures across their global locations. There are different cultural nuances that companies are looking at for localization and for driving a global organizational culture in their global centers. Leadership is playing the role of a facilitator to be able to manage asynchronous teams and harmonize structural differences to build a global organizational culture. What are some of the ways to drive this global organizational culture across locations? What is the role of global leadership in building a global organization? How can organizations enable uniformity in organizational culture across various global centers?
We sat down with Magali Viano, Director – People and Culture, Communications and Brand and Facilities, Amadeus IT Group, to understand how Amadeus, a Europe-based travel technology company, drives a global organizational culture across its people, business, and leadership aspects. Here are the excerpts from the conversation.
Zinnov: What are the core tenets of Amadeus’s culture?
Magali: The most important thing in our culture that defines us and makes us unique is our purpose. Our purpose is to shape the future of travel. But it’s not just that. We are also open, innovative, collaborative, and customer-focused. This makes us stand out from others, for our people and our customers. Diversity and respect for each other are other key tenets of our company.
Zinnov: Despite the obvious remoteness, how are you ensuring consistency in culture across your various centers?
Magali: The way we try to ensure consistency across the board, geographies, and centers, is through a value system called ‘The Amadeus Way,’ articulated in the form of 6 key questions. We encourage every employee to ask themselves and each other these 6 questions when working on anything. This ensures an agile, customer-driven, and excellence-focused approach. This also ensures consistency in the way we approach things. The six questions are around – ‘customer-focus,’ ‘is it good for Amadeus in general terms,’ and ‘accountability.’ The questions around these help us engage in conversations and reach a common ground. This is also very important because we are a large organization now.
Zinnov: What role is the leadership playing in tying together the three aspects of business, people, and culture?
Magali: Leadership is key in this aspect, and often, I compare it to that of the role of a conductor. A leader is someone who recognizes the uniqueness of each of our employees, our people, and at the same time ensures that the vision of our business is communicated well. The leadership plays a key role in providing the speed and the pace to the vision while ensuring that it is in alignment with our culture. The leadership role can be in a managerial role, in a project management role, or even in an individual contributor role. We have plenty of technical leaders in our organization who are not necessarily managing people but are key to the organization. So, irrespective of managerial or technical leadership skills, leaders must try to take people ahead along with them, and that is why I like the analogy to a conductor.
Zinnov: From a learning perspective, in a global COMPETENCY/CAPABILITY center, what are some of the ways in which you enable cross-learning?
Magali: There are, of course, formal ways to learn. There are training courses, classroom training, and on-the-job training. However, what we are increasingly focusing on is learning what you want to learn. For e.g., people like to learn as a community and be a part of it, so we help them build a community and share their experiences and learn from each other in the community. We also offer our people opportunities to take part in hackathons where they can spend their weekend coding. They also learn new solutions, techniques, and working with other coders. At a global level, we help people embark on safe transformation journeys by following the agile methodology, which is a way to learn differently and a new way of working in Amadeus.
Zinnov: One of the key tenets of your culture is sustainability. What are some of the key practices that Amadeus follows to enable this?
Magali: Amadeus has now been recognized for the eighth time in a row in 2019 by the Dow Jones Sustainability index. It recognizes our years and years of effort in building a sustainable culture in Amadeus. Sustainability is a part of our DNA, and from an employee perspective, it is really important. We are doing this in two aspects. One is on a daily basis where we constantly communicate with our employees and building management to ensure that we are saving our resources for the good of our planet. We are constantly in sync with the building and facilities team regarding the smallest of things – be it water or electricity. In India, especially over the last few years, we have been intensively focusing on sustainability and taking initiatives to save water and electricity.
The second aspect is volunteering. Due to an overwhelming demand from our employees, we just launched something called ‘volunteering day.’ Our employees asked us for this, and we enabled this initiative. As a part of volunteering day, our employees can go for any volunteering activity that they want to go for and give back to society. We have seen plenty of good initiatives, and it was a huge success, especially in India, where I think 60% of our employees enrolled in one of the volunteering activities. It was also very popular on social media and helped us spread awareness regarding various social issues that we care about. We plan on doing this again next year, and the years after that. We will continue to strive and build a stronger sense of sustainability in our company.
Amadeus, a 32-year old travel company is constantly reinventing itself, along with its people and its culture in order to keep up with the changing dynamics of the workforce. It is working to create a fluid and dynamic culture while keeping abreast of not only what the industry demands but also what the new-age workforce needs. It is building structured programs to be able to build a uniform culture that the global workforce resonates with.