The pandemic. The Great Resignation. Inflation. A war in Ukraine. The world has changed so much in the last two and half years – have we as professionals changed as well?
During the season three kickoff of LocLife™, host Javi Diaz led a conversation that explored how leaders are learning to navigate these uncertain times. Business as Usual? A New Era for Leaders starred a panel of industry pros that included:
Jeff Beatty, head of localization at Disney+
Yoko Drain, senior director, product globalization at Zendesk
Bridget O’Brien, director, enterprise globalization at Procore Technologies, Inc.
Lyena Solomon, director of globalization at ServiceNow
From leading remote teams to facing new behavioral norms, it’s clear from this enlightening LocLife™ discussion that business has both changed and stayed the same.
If you missed the live event or want to rewatch it, the on-demand LocLife™ session is available right here:
“The world changed but people did not,” said Lyena. “Everything that was important to us before the pandemic is still important to us now. And for localization professionals, it wasn’t a big difference because of our follow-the-sun model.”
Jeff agreed and noted that the essentials of leadership are still intact. “The core elements of being a leader have remained the same. Leaders still have to find and retain talent and strategize. It’s the application that has changed in light of all this.”
For Bridget, the last two years have re-emphasized the importance of leading with a people-first mentality. “It made leaders resurface that empathy muscle, which was a good outcome and hopefully continues to be more upfront than it was pre-pandemic.”
Yoko, who’s based in Hawaii, welcomed the chance to put more effort into digital-first practices. “My team is distributed globally, so standardizing more time-zone-friendly meetings and documentation access means our people don’t have to chase down what they need.”
When the conversation turned to cultural values, Jeff had some key insights. “Cultural dynamics have shifted. There’s a bit more relaxation around power dynamics when it comes to professionalism and personal life. But there’s also been a homogenization of cultures. The pandemic put us all in a similar situation that’s allowed us to create new guidelines and boundaries around values and professionalism.”
When asked whether mental health and emotional wellness seem more approachable post-pandemic, the panel agreed that these are no longer taboo issues to be ignored.
“Sometimes people don’t see leaders as humans, so I made sure to show my human side,” Yoko shared. “I let people know that I’m also struggling too, and it’s okay to struggle. Opening that conversation also helped me point people to any resources they needed.”
Also highlighted was the importance of connection and cross-functional collaboration.
“Cross-collaboration is a part of globalization’s DNA,” said Bridget. “You have to be intentional about making connections – even more so now that we’re not in the office all the time. Our company has “get to know yous” where we meet with people for 20 minutes and just talk. With that personal connection, people are more inclined to advocate for what you’re trying to get done with the company.”
Moving forward, the challenges and opportunities are undeniable.
For Lyena, it can be tough to figure out new norms. “Now that we’re going back to the office, we are faced with the fact that we don’t know how to behave anymore. I’m a hugger, so now I’m always asking ‘what’s your hugging policy,’ instead of just running up with open arms like I always have.”
“It will be a challenge instituting practices that enable hybrid work,” Jeff noted. “We need to have purpose-driven opportunities to meet in person and socialize.”
And with regard to that hybrid work environment, Bridget added, “When you’re working at home with your dog all day, the isolation piece is real. You have to remember to have fun!”