An Interview with Magdalyne, the Head of the Microsoft Working Group
Recently I was in a meeting with you and other department heads where you gave a challenge to the three trainers of the PowerPoint Boot Camp. You said, "I demand that you give us fit people who know and are proficient in all the basics of formatting. I don't want people we will need to coach again.”
I will never forget you saying, "I demand." I got excited because your expectation became a turning point for Chillibreeze. You acted like an owner. Your voice showed me that you are making good choices for the health and profitability of the company.
Q: Tell me, what was going through your mind that day?
Magdalyne: Over the years, as we hire new designers, the team and I have always had the experience of receiving work with basic errors. I am referring to fundamental design techniques the new trainees should be able to execute upon completing the Boot Camp.
It is frustrating and time-consuming when the experienced team teaches what the trainees did not learn in the Boot Camp. The trainee is not giving that anticipated value. We expect the trainee to save the POC's time. Hence my demand! I expressed my need. I wanted qualified trainees who could achieve the basics before entering the working group. A delayed discovery will hurt the team and waste the trainee's time learning a profession that doesn't fit him or her.
So, what was going through my mind was we had three of our best staff involved in the Boot Camp 3 training. I thought, if they are investing their best time in the training, then NO basic error is the minimum expectation from them. These guys have to earn their success. Ownership is the key to getting results.
Q: Now that Boot Camp 3 is over, have your expectations been met?
Magdalyne: Definitely. I would say my expectation is 80% met. We haven't reached 100%, but 80% is a vast improvement from previous Boot Camps. Today the trainees are a big help to the team. I feel so proud of Mariabiang, Hope, and Mason for taking my pain point seriously and bringing the results out of it.
Q: You are a role model to me in your ability to focus and get things done. What method or process do you use?
Magdalyne: Thank you for the compliment, Joanna! However, I was not like this before. The more my responsibility, the more it pushes me to organize and plan my day well, resulting in serving my team and company better!
I like my day organized. If it's not, then I don't feel productive, and I know the next day tasks will pile up, and I won't have the energy even to complete them. So, I have a simple process that I follow:
First: After replying to customer emails, list them down on my personal excel along with any internal emails that I need to read/reply/survey to be done by the stated deadline.
Next, I add any activities or action steps from previous meetings or responsibilities on my Excel:
- NPS responses
- Leapsome feedback or comments
- SOW, PO, or Invoices
- Queries I need to complete
Make a special note that I add all types of tasks that I need to finish, whether it is for one minute or one hour. I include their deadlines.
Once, everything is entered in excel I start with an activity/task. Then, I select one that is easy and takes less time. Why? Because these small tasks give me energy and satisfaction to complete/start the next task. I color code my completed tasks green. The color gives me a feeling of getting results for my hard work and I passed. Hehehe.
Throughout the day I run through my list and revisit and mark the completed tasks. The list helps me keep awake. A reminder that I still have more to complete for the day. This activity drives me.
Q: Not only do you get things done, you also courageously speak. I was hoping you could share your favorite story where courageously speaking made a difference to you, others, and the company.
Magdalyne: I cannot forget the day when I started to speak courageously. I was new to that environment of attending company meetings. Most of the leaders of Chillibreeze were present. The leaders had recently decided to let go of four staff. I courageously shared that Chillibreeze had not practiced our values of authenticity and transparency. Because we ignored a problem, we did not deal with the pain of communicating transparently about our expectations. Instead, we reacted and made a quick decision. I courageously spoke about how the action we took goes against our values and as a result, that hurt me. I could not control my emotions when I shared my perspective. But, because I want to be authentic, I knew it was the right thing to speak out. I will not forget this moment because it made a significant difference in myself and I believe in the team as well. Today ‘courageously speak’ is one of our guiding principles.
Q: Courageously speaking doesn't just happen in the context of our peers, I have also heard stories of how you courageously practice "naked service" with customers. Tell me more about this authentic approach.
Magdalyne: Courage is not some value that you need to learn from a book. It is about genuine care I have for the development of our customer or colleague. A person needs to be open and vulnerable so that we can help or learn from our customers.
Three things that I look for that help me to connect with our customers are:
- Listening carefully to what our customers want to say. Then, I seek how I can help them. Because it is not about me, it's about me serving them.
- Asking about their role and responsibility in their organization. I do share with customers the reason why I am asking. Understanding their role and responsibility helps me to not just know them better but also helps in project execution. For example, if I get work from Mickey, knowing that she is responsible for AI Education, I know what type of template/images/icons I need to add to the project. Of course, all projects might not be the same, but it does help.
- Lastly, I ask any question if I'm in doubt. This is important. Until I understand what he/she wants I cannot deliver what he/she is expecting from me. When I ask questions, I just love how they change their way of explaining things. They get engaged. They know that I am not listening to them blindly. I actively listen because I want them to get a good experience from me.
A final tip: Never fail to appreciate your customer if you learn from them. If they challenge you, enthusiastically accept it because the tip helps you build your relationship much more substantially.
Q: Ultimately, I see you as a leader who puts her interests aside, thinks beyond self, and helps others no matter how difficult. This type of unselfish service has built the Microsoft Working Group. Tell us more about how you do this.
As a leader, I am constantly learning every day. I am grateful to my team and even others who have forever guide me to be a better person and leader. The key contributing factor I implement is the inner drive and a clear understanding of what the company mission is. This force enables me to give my best eventually knowing that everything will fall into place. It is not easy to lead. Ultimately, I must rally the team in good times and bad. It is about me hearing the team out and coming to terms with the business's best interest.
I believe an other-centered leader is a servant leader. You are constantly developing yourself to develop others. What is at the core of my motivation?
It is the company's vision. I am not saying it just for the sake of speaking. I wholeheartedly believe in it and want to make it happen in every role that I serve.
Q: Lastly, you have been with Chillibreeze since 2016. What is your best memory?
Magdalyne: I have gotten many learning and unforgettable experiences that have developed me to be who I am right now. My best and proudest memory is when I signed a dream document on the 6th of July 2019, claiming that I have full ownership and rightfully own my first property. Yay!
Joanna: That's a beautiful memory to treasure. It captures what we believe at Chillibreeze:
Through the diligent work of a healthy company, we are creating wealth, providing purpose, and releasing the potential of customers, employees, families, and the community. As a role model, Chillibreeze's influence spreads throughout Northeast India and beyond.
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