Examining the importance of people to organizational success

DefinedCrowd welcomes Teresa Nascimento 

People are the engine that drives business success. No matter how brilliant a business plan or purpose, if it’s not underpinned by sound HR principles, it’s not going to result in the type of success envisaged by its creators.  

Teresa Nascimento, the new VP of People at DefinedCrowd, knows this only too well. With extensive experience in People Management at companies like Deloitte, Millennium BCP, and Microsoft, and a degree in Organizational Psychology from Lisbon University, Teresa is well-versed in the value of driving people development, company culture, coaching, and leadership at large organizations.  

Now, Teresa is bringing her expertise and passion to DefinedCrowd, as she helps the company manage and direct its exponential growth. 

“Teresa’s vast professional experience in various companies and segments, including technology, will contribute hugely to the development and growth of our international team,” said Daniela Braga, founder and CEO. “The company is growing quickly, so it is imperative to implement efficient strategies and processes to ensure that our vision is effectively communicated, and our organizational culture maintained in all offices,” she concluded.  

Teresa, a vibrant, dynamic and ebullient woman, is passionate about people and helping them reach their full potential. We spent an hour with her discussing her thoughts on HR, company culture, achieving career success, and dealing with downsizing.  

Teresa, why human resources? 

I made the decision very early on in my life, and I have never regretted it once. Never. I really love seeing other people experience success. Ultimately, developing people and seeing them excel is what gives me pleasure. It’s not about having power, it’s not about having responsibility, or earning money.  

What I do is create the glue inside the organization: I create programs so that people can grow, and coach teams and leaders so that they are fully aware of the impact of the decisions they make.  

Do you think you need to be a people’s person to excel in this field? 

I have seen a lot of HR executives in my career who were not people’s people. But I didn’t think they were very good. If you are very process-oriented or business-oriented, in the end, you don’t take care of the people part of the business, which is one of the most important things.  

You won’t know for example, why some decisions are not the best ones, why some teams don’t work well together, why you don’t set up the right priorities, or why you don’t choose the right investments. Most of the time, these are not technical situations, they are more about your perception of the market, the way you work with people, and the way you make decisions. All those things have a huge impact on your business.  

There are a few leaders at the moment who are publicly making statements and making decisions that are clearly based on egos. These leaders have minimal awareness of how many lives they are going to impact.  

This current situation doesn’t need someone who just knows how to run a country. It needs someone who also knows how to inspire, motivate, calm and reassure people. It’s about being brave but also being conscious of what you are doing. In the end, I think that to perform well in any leadership role, from president to company executive, you have to be a people’s person. Because you have to understand the engine behind the business. If you don’t do this, your ‘culture eats your strategy for breakfast’ and you don’t even notice.

What is it you love most about your job? 

From a technical point of view, I like hiring and developing people.  

Growth happens only when people leave their comfort zone. I love seeing this process unfold. When people struggle at their role because they are growing, but don’t realize they are growing. I find this so interesting.  

What is it that you dislike most about the job? 

Downsizing is difficult. The worst part for every HR person is when the business doesn’t grow as expected.  

What stands out for you as the most difficult thing you’ve had to do in your career? 

I was working for one of the largest private banks in Portugal. Three months after I joined the company, a major economic crisis hit Europe and we had to retrench 3000 people in one year. It was the hardest part of my career. I love to help people to grow, but, in that situation, I had to do the opposite. However, I feel proud of the way I did it, and that makes a difference.  

How did you cope with that emotionally? 

It’s during the toughest times in your life that you learn the most about yourself. Seeing the way some people operated in a crisis and the way different people handled the same problem was a major learning curve for me.  

Do you know that old saying? ‘When things get tough, the tough get going?’ I believe that!

How important is an effective HR strategy to business success? 

A well-defined strategy is certainly needed to support the business. People forget that it is the people that bring about success. No matter how clever the business strategy, if it is not implemented by the right people, by motivated, engaged and happy people, it will never work.  

A good HR strategy includes making good decisions to hire the right people. A clear strategy also helps to align leaders to a common goal, while preparing middle-management to grow. Businesses have to be aware of their image in the market, of their reputation. This all impacts on your ability to attract the right talent. Creating and implementing a strong HR strategy also allows you to share your vision and values with the team. Once people are living the company’s vision, they will stay.  

You joined DefinedCrowd at a difficult time when many people are being forced to work from home. How can people avoid feeling isolated or lonely during this period of social distancing?  

It’s important to create slots in your agenda to socialize with your colleagues. Usually, we would go out for lunch or have coffee together while discussing things that aren’t work-related. It’s important to keep doing this with virtual coffee dates. Take 15 minutes out of our workday just to connect.  

It’s also important to stick to discipline, otherwise, your professional life and personal life start to merge, which can become difficult. Exercise is also important to keep spirits up and the body healthy.  

And use video conferencing. You’ve got to see each other’s faces to feel a real connection. Facial expressions are so important to communication.  

How important is company culture to employee acquisition and retention? 

Imagine you are building a cathedral. A strong culture and vision help to envision the future and helps you to stay focused on practical tasks (even if they are difficult). Resilience increases if you know that laying bricks is just part of building the cathedral.   

Culture is what you do when no one is watching. That is culture. It’s the framework for how a business operates. When people are connected, they align their behavior with the vision, with the culture, and they stay. And retention is the one piece of PR that attracts other people to the company.  

What are your personal goals at DefinedCrowd? 

I would love to see one DefinedCrowd; a common culture lived between the teams in the US, Japan and Portugal. I want to create and communicate the right opportunities for people to grow. I also want to help the company reach its goal of becoming a unicorn.  

What is the secret to a successful career? 

You have to enjoy what you do. You have to enjoy the process and not just the results. Just like a runner loves training every day, so do you have to love what you do every day. No runner competes in marathons just for the money or fame. They run because they love to run; victory and success are happy by-products. Similarly, in your career, you have to enjoy what you do every day.  

You’ve also got to have the right resources around you to help you focus on the job. There comes a moment in your life when you struggle with family, children, and friends. The only way to stay focused is to make sure you have the right resources around you and the right structure. Make good decisions regarding your partner and regarding the people that support what you want to do. Avoid toxic people, choose the right partner, put the right structures in place, and enjoy the journey!