Damian Grela, Senior Vice President, Transfer Agency Systems is no stranger to change management. His career as a software developer working on web-based solutions started in the financial sector and inadvertently included a crash course in change management. The first company he worked for restructured regularly — changing priorities, teams, and ways of working about every two years to keep up with the evolving tech landscape.
Joining BBH in 2015, Damian has instilled his flexible mindset and understanding of technical concepts. Since then, Damian’s career has reflected the opportunities that BBH, and particularly our Krakow location offers, moving from Technology Team Lead, Systems Project Manager, and Technical Manager before being promoted to his current position in Transfer Agency Systems. In his time at BBH, Damian has built on his skills, mastering technical, corporate and customer language, allowing him to translate customer needs into business objectives. He’s now keen to share his learnings and skills with newer members of the software development team so they too can learn and identify what to build and understand why it will help.
We sat down with Damian to learn more about his leadership style on managing change. Read on to get the scoop.
What's your leadership style?
One of the most important aspects of my leadership style is my ability to combine technical and soft skills – that’s important at BBH, because when you can do that effectively, it changes the game. I focus on listening and really hearing what my team is saying, advocating for them, and finding ways to keep things fresh and interesting, while developing their skills and abilities --I believe that’s how you get real buy-in. In delivering outcomes, it’s critical for my team to not only understand and value their contribution, but to also see how what they deliver daily impacts the Firm’s overall objectives and the client experience. When people understand how what they do contributes to the bigger picture, it’s much easier to generate enthusiasm for what needs to be done.
What direction do you give your team when navigating change?
When change happens or is announced, it’s not uncommon for people to first focus on the potential downsides, but usually, there are also many positives – if you choose to see them. Navigating change is about open, transparent conversations, working through reservations about the change and uncovering the upside. Having your team focused on, contributing to and involved in managing change outcomes together helps, because people feel they are part of the solution – turning opportunities into results.
As a leader, how do you encourage employee development?
A big part of our BBH Krakow DNA is based in developing our people and providing genuine career growth. That’s one of the reasons we have an in-house development team. As someone who has benefited from this approach, I’m committed to giving back and helping others reach their career objectives. For me, it was always about having a plan and getting the right people around you. Practically speaking, using the principles of change management makes sense - breaking things down into achievable steps, looking for specific development opportunities, knowing and tweaking strengths to open new ways of doing things, increasing your visibility, and understanding of our business all helps you be focused on what you want to achieve – that all helps you get you to the next level. In instances when team members already have the necessary technical skills, I become more of a mentor and find that sharing my experiences helps people think about their own career development. It really depends on the individual and that’s what’s nice about our team, we’re more than just a number or the sum of our output – our input is very much valued and being part of the solution is actively encouraged.