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Henrique Driessen - CGO


- elephant skin - 

Think big and not your job title!
 Vertical hierarchy in companies no longer makes sense; the focus must be on people and  their capabilities.

Those who follow me here already know that I recently made the decision to leave the position  of CEO at Elephant Skin and forge my own path, within the objective that the company has  today of expanding globally, together with my personal need for professional development.

What I consider to be most important for genuine career growth, and yet what also prevents  this expansion is the culture that moves the current mentality and structure of companies: a  lack of focus on the people themselves and their individual skills.

As a result, one might be an excellent professional in his work, but with his/her position as a  cast member belonging to a hierarchical system, and with only the proposition of “moving up,”  he/she will assume promotions without actually being prepared or having anything to do with  their particular capabilities. Instead of expanding, growth is limited by putting that person in a  ‘box.’

Position is not the same as competence: it is necessary to focus on the individual.  

The world has changed and things cannot continue in the traditional, rigid vertical hierarchy.  Who is wrong: the professional or the system?

Why can't he/she be a great professional in what he/she already knows how to do very well?  Why shouldn’t people advance levels based on their skills? Because there is a very limiting  obstacle known as hierarchical charge.

At Elephant Skin we had to build our own vision regarding the position of each professional in  the company and, in doing so, we prioritize skills and people. Regardless of the position, it is  always possible to be fantastic in your performance!

We had our journey to clearly see this stage of defining roles in the company, because a  structure based on positions is something merely cultural and necessary to question.

For five years I didn't have time to be in the C-level position I am now taking on at Elephant  Skin, and that has always been an open position at the company.

I was the ideal person to take on this role, completely in line with my skills and goals, but I was  too busy holding onto the position of CEO.

Therefore, Giovana Driessen, who had already acted with great competence in her part of the  CEO role, could not, however, fully execute it, because I was in the way. That is, we were  limited to our structured positions and we could not allow this obstacle to continue. That's  where and when the chip dropped.

Companies need to learn to look in alternate ways… the potential already exists!  

Another question that I consider fundamental to ask when it comes to growth and career  opportunities is about the hiring structure. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you  already have the exact people your company needs?

When you reach a degree of maturity, exceptional professionals know that fluctuating positions  does not mean moving up or down a scale. After all, “moving up” should be when you take on  something that you really want, and that is related to your true skills.

I will always have my merit as the founder of ES and will proudly keep that forever. But today I  am much more interested in having a globally consolidated company than a CEO title.

I believe that companies today need to open up so that people feel free to be the best version  of themselves. And, founders need to look for professionals to help structure their companies.

As long as the company is going in a path that makes sense, positions and titles matter  least.

People need to understand that they can be very big, and that if they are not already,  there still is the opportunity for that to happen.  

At Elephant Skin, we invest a lot in processes to improve work dynamics and provide everyone  with a better quality of life. This generates greater autonomy among the teams, which then  allows them to organize themselves in such a way to find the best pace of work and improve  upon deliveries. But the challenge also lies in the development of these processes; in not  allowing the company to just settle.

There is a work culture which, in general, puts people inside boxes, so that they cannot see  themselves beyond those four walls. In keeping with the vertical hierarchical structure, proceed  upward in position until you get to a certain level, at which point, you have nowhere else to go.  But at ES we turned this hierarchy on its side; instead of going up, people can go further from a  three-dimensional structure, which we call self-managing cells, where people have the  autonomy to choose their positions.

In this three-dimensional hierarchy, hubs are created that can grow within these cells, with no  limit to potential expansion.

The top is subjective. Enjoy the journey and achievements along the way, or you will  always be looking forward to something, and not enjoying the smaller victories.

What is your top today? Mine is to be able to be present in several continents of the world and  for ES to be consolidated as a global reference. I want people in the company to have the  conviction that ES is a space where they can reach what they consider to be the very top.

Also, your ‘top’ cannot be limited to one position. You have your goals and you must outline  ways to achieve them by doing what you enjoy and what brings you true fulfillment.

The process also needs to generate satisfaction as much as the result. It is common for people  to focus so much on the result and, in doing so, forget about the process and fail to create  “mini goals” to celebrate throughout the journey.

I once remember commenting in a meeting that you can't want to have an airplane just  because having an airplane is cool. You must have that airplane because it's going to meet a  need at that moment. Things have to happen for a reason, not just because of your want.

Your desire for expansion must be unlimited, both in mindset and position. This is my career  vision, it's what I experience at ES, and I encourage more people around me to think beyond. If you want to do it, do it! Or you will never know. Go with fear, but go, because fear is part of it.  Don't put limits on your dreams!


Communications Manager - Roberta Lemos | Communication Intern – João Victor Campos
Author – Journalist Daiana Barasa and Juliana Rodrigues | Naiá
Interviewed – Henrique Driessen

*All Rights Reserved to Elephant Skin Group Corp.​

02/09/2023 - 3:53 PM EST

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