Issue no. 1 - 2014 Governor Community Connection
The Opportunity to Lead
Leadership at Opportunity International isn’t limited to a specific role – instead, it’s an integral part of the culture. It’s a way to find future leaders, develop skills and encourage upward potential. And it’s critical to the success of the work we do.
Last year, we identified 50 global leaders for succession training – simply put, those who demonstrated qualities that put them in a position to assume their bosses’ jobs or a broader role in the organization in two years’ time. These staff members are learning how to be better managers, lead teams and make a difference for families in need.
Opportunity believes that leadership begins with living and exemplifying our values. When an employee starts working with us, we give them a small booklet entitled “Living Our Brand the Opportunity Way.” Through this guide, they learn the standards that set us apart, including:
Commitment - to our clients and their transformation
Humility - a spirit of serving in all we do
Respect - 360 degrees of consideration and teamwork
Integrity - living our values with transparency and consistency
Stewardship - accountability, innovation and urgency
Transformation - our ultimate goal in ourselves and others
Put together, these values lead to transformation – certainly for the lives of the clients we serve, but also for our futures leaders. We believe in keeping our leadership development in-house, so that we can personalize activities according to business needs, staff interests and goals. This unified strategy for growth gives Opportunity’s best and brightest the chance for challenging assignments, as well as the chance to push themselves – and their organization – to new heights.
Recruiting - and Keeping - the Best Talent
Pat Boyle knows what it takes to build strong leadership. Over 30 years in the business – including 25 years at the Royal Bank – Pat has created and managed a wide variety of programs to help international staff reach their full potential.
For the last five years, she’s served as Opportunity’s Global Director of Leadership Development and Training. In this role, she’s witnessed increased scrambling for exemplary employees in developing countries.
“Our CEOs in Africa face fierce competition for their talent,” Pat explained. “We must rapidly identify talent in Africa, and begin to plan how to enrich our people and give them developmental experiences.”
This competition is one reason Pat has led implementation of ambitious three-year strategy that brings future leaders on board and quickly immerses them in Opportunity’s entrepreneurial culture. The strategy helps staff achieve a series of milestones through activities including mentorship, classroom learning, peer coaching and personalized development plans.
“We believe that our onboarding program is best in class,” Pat said. “When I speak with some of our young professionals at Opportunity and I ask them what they find most exciting about working here, they consistently tell me it’s because they are given early challenges in their career. They’re given responsibility, they are promoted quickly and those are things that they really value and haven’t experienced in previous roles.”
While the strategy has started with focus on Africa, Pat’s team is also responsible for strategic investments in learning across Latin America and Eastern Europe. She believes the success they’ve experienced so far in Africa will help inform discovery and development of new leadership across Opportunity’s 22 countries.
“When staff comes to Opportunity, they feel like there is a difference; they are asked to lead very early in their career, be good communicators and give feedback,” she said. “What we feel is significant is that we’re asking our new hires to show initiative and the kind of attitude that we want them to bring to our clients, which is ‘we’re here to help you’.”