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    VISA, when innovation is the DNA 

    Understand that not only do organizations choose people, but more and more people choose organizations. Having a new talent or a new job has become a two-way street that VISA has understood. María Inés Calvo, Director of Human Resources for the Southern Cone, opens the doors of the company and comments on the role of HR during the pandemic, multi-generations, the relevance of data and technology in relation to talent. 

    Visa Argentina and La Nación recently launched the #Visa-LaNación Award for Innovation, recognizing companies that dare to implement disruptive strategies. In these lines, from your role as leader of an area that encompasses different countries, cultures, people, backgrounds, etc., what do you and your team do to be constantly at the forefront of innovation from the department you are in? 

    At Visa, innovation is part of our DNA, and it is part of our mission to connect the world through a network that is not only more reliable and secure but also more innovative. We seek innovation both in our customer-facing processes and internally, focusing on our collaborators, working as a team, having a passion for seeking new ideas, and generating an impact on the world from wherever we are. 


    We foster a culture of innovation, which is why we seek innovative talent in all positions. Talent that challenges existing processes, that promotes good business practices, that is persistent and resilient, working as a team and collaboratively for the same objectives, addressing the needs of our clients, choosing the most effective solutions, and thus continue to be one of the most valuable technology companies globally. 


    • Innovation is so important to us that we internally implemented the “Innovation Award/Recognition” for the second consecutive year. This award is given twice a year and recognizes those who have shown creativity, courage, and collaboration in innovation and transformation projects for the end-users. 

    This award highlights new ideas and people who have changed or challenged existing internal and external practices with our clients and the Visa ecosystem. 

    What do we do to be at the forefront of innovation from HR? 

    I believe that there are three fundamental aspects to consider: being attentive to the needs of the business and its evolution, listening to our collaborators, and being prepared for market trends, including the upcoming changes

    There is a lot of talk about innovation in HR. I believe that the true innovations in this area can be measured by the impact they generate in the business, culture, productivity, and commitment of our collaborators. 


    Common denominators of the most innovative organizations in Latin America:  

     -A hub, team, or department dedicated to innovation  

     -Innovation laboratories to promote interdepartmental collaboration 

    -Adoption of innovation with more than 140 APIs and alliances with 15 startups per year on average. 

    -80% use leading technologies. 

    -Capacity to bring its solutions to more than five markets 

    -Solutions developed in less than five months   

    VISA is a payment technology company that is shaping the future of commerce. So what is the greatest human resources milestone for this last year in which everything changed, turning 180° towards virtuality and new technologies aiming at a much more competitive market? 

    When the pandemic started, Visa took a turn towards greater flexibility. We embraced flexibility at different levels, prioritizing the well-being and safety of employees and their families. 

    As for most companies in the region, the approach to flexibility at Visa before covid-19 was not what it is today. 

    Without a doubt, the pandemic took a turn towards more flexibility, making us a more agile organization with more autonomous teams. However, we soon learned that working from home was just the beginning of a series of new challenges for our people. 

    At the managerial level, Visa made the decision to prioritize achieving daily objectives over meeting rigid working hours, consciously institutionalizing flexibility. These are some of the things we are doing: 

    • Flexibility is part of our culture. We have encouraged leaders to build flexibility into their teams to accommodate personal needs. 

    •      Well Being Hours. This is a temporary mental health respite, a space employee can choose to use for themselves on Fridays after 1:00 pm. 

    •     Staff meetings with different slogans to get to know each other better. For example, we play a guessing game in which photos of some team members from when they were children are projected. The team must guess who are the ones that appear in the photo. Once guessed, they must tell anecdotes of that moment, their childhood, as well as share hobbieswith the rest of the members of Visa. 

    •      Recreational activities with the family, “We are all part of Visa.” Here, in this weekly block, the families of our people are invited, for example, to take gym classes with lots of music, lots of fun, all together. It is a way to have fun, take care of health, and get to know each other better from a recreational space. 


    •      Wellness Ambassadors. We appointed an Executive Sponsor of Wellness at the regional level, who leads a team that offers practices and resources, on an ongoing basis, to learn how to manage in times of pandemic 


    •      Access to mental health and mindfulness. We strengthened our employee mental health assistance program by increasing the number of free sessions with a mental health counselor that employees can access. 


    As we emerge from the pandemic, we expect that many of the lessons learned will continue to be part of an innovative business model, much more flexible, in which the resilience of our collaborators continues to be empowered, and in which everyone contributes with their talent, experience, and flexibility to our purpose as Visa. 

    What place do reskilling and upskilling occupy in the world of talent? What is Visa University all about? 

    The world of work is constantly changing to adapt to the company’s new needs and our consumers. The emergence of new capabilities has changed the professional world and what is expected of talent; an example of this is digitization or big data knowledge, the use and management of data has become fundamental in most roles.  

    Digital skills, knowledge and/or experience in technology and electronic means of payment, just as innovative thinking and resilience are skills that are always in demand. In this context, they will be even more so, as well as skills for remote work and virtual work connection. These new skills require new learning processes (reskilling and upskilling) for current and future employees. 

    At Visa, reskilling and upskilling are part of our talent development and management strategy. This last year, through our e-learning platform called Visa University, we have offered a very varied amount of virtual training to our collaborators to develop and learn these new skills and knowledge. For example, we carry out courses on managing virtual teams, effectiveness in remote work, storytelling, and generating effective virtual presentations. 

    The future of the digitization of our companies depends on our ability to build new skills, reskilling, and upskilling of our collaborators. 


    In the case of Visa, we are an ever-evolving payments technology company and foster a culture of innovation.  

    “We promote good business practices, we accept challenges, and we are persistent, we work as a team for the same goals, we address the needs of our clients, we choose the most effective solutions and we aim to continue being one of the most valuable technology companies globally.” 

    One of the technology sector characteristics is the high demand for work and the low supply of talent. Considering this, how important is the use of artificial intelligence and HR Analytics in human resources? 

    The HR area digitization is going through all our processes, what we call “the employee’s life cycle” from their entry to their departure and/or retirement. 


    Today the use of machine learning, AI, and People Analyticsis essential in our processes. To list just some of the activities where these technologies help us, we can cite: 


    • Carry out a better identification and selection of candidates who apply to positions through social networks or our website. Our digital systems allow us to identify and filter the most suitable candidates. 
    • People Analytics for internalMentoring processes allows us to identify each collaborator’s right mentor according to their profile and needs. 
    • Use of virtual reality for onboardingprocesses recognition programs. 
    • Improvements in salary benchmarkingprocesses. 


    As HR professionals, it is important that we develop a digital profile, that we are capable not only of generating information but also of interpreting it through technology to understand the behavior of our collaborators better and help the business and the leaders to make better decisions based on data and not assumptions. They say that when “data speaks, opinion is silent.” 


    You have a long career in international companies, many of which are sought after by younger generations to work for. What do you think the young professional is looking for today when choosing a job? 


    Today we have a generation of young people who enter the workforce differently than we or previous generations did. 


    They want to work in companies that prioritize caring for the environment, gender equality, healthy eating, and sustainability, but above all, aligned with their purposes and values. 


    These young people value their personal freedom and want to be able to choose how they go to work. “https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/resources/pdfs/linkedin-2020-global-talent-trends-report.pdf” 


    Likewise, they like to feel part of the company’s projects, initiatives, achievements, and challenges. They value feeling recognized, visible, and protagonists of change, leaving aside routine tasks. They look for leaders who constantly give them feedback, match their values, and challenge and develop them. They want to express their “self at work and not feel conditioned, to be able to be themselves and express what they think and feel without limitations. 


    In an exit interview I had with a young millennial, he told me that he was leaving the company to focus on his personal life. His words left me thinking. He said: “I need to be faithful to what happens to me, the balance has to be positive, I need to have time to dedicate myself to other things.” They do not negotiate against what they consider to be against their values and interests; they are true to themselves. I think that previous generations resigned more our times and choices. 

    The balance between personal life and work life is not optional for them; it is in their DNA. Having time for their personal life and for their activities is essential. 


    The new generations are not satisfied with just working for a certain brand: they are increasingly demanding and choose where to work. 

    That is why it is so important that human resources pay attention to these trends, that our “Employee Value Proposal” makes them fall in love, that it is not a “one size fits all“ but that each component of our proposal is adapted to the different generations. Today more than ever, the choice is two-way, the companies choose, but they also choose us. 


    A few years ago, in an interview with an Argentine media, you said that you aspired to achieve a balance between life and work from your role. After a year and a half at a global level, do you consider that organizations are oriented towards this balance and understand that their collaborators are integral beings? 


    I believe that the pandemic accelerated many of the changes and transformations that companies were carrying out in this regard. The ability to combine work and personal life with the help of technology is already a key factor that will organize people’s lives for the next decade. 


    We are in the era of “smart” work; individuals are the ones who manage their time. Increasingly they will decide which company to work for, when, and where, and technology is an enabler for this. Work will no longer be done only during fixed hours and in the usual places. Instead, it will be based primarily on results and impact. 


    Companies must have a new conception of work. We must continue to adapt our culture. We have to change those practices that served us well in our management, but that will not be effective for the coming changes. There are cases of people who decide to leave the organization to better balance their personal and work life. It is no longer enough to offer a good salary or an attractive benefits package to attract and retain employees. Individuals know that time is as valuable a commodity as money, so they will be attracted to employers who expect and encourage their employees to have a private life and not sacrifice their freedom to pursue professional success. 


    Companies that do not adapt to this trend are likely to lose their best talent, who will seek more agile organizations or opt for some other form of employment. 


    The balance between personal life and work-life must be part of the culture and DNA of companies. Suppose, as companies, we accept that work is an activity that can be carried out anywhere and at any time, and we are capable of measuring and rewarding the impact of our collaborators. In that case, we will have better results, and we will be more successful as companies. It seems easy, but, nevertheless, it collides with the culture that still prevails in many companies, and achieving it requires a profound change in the leaders. 


    Within the countries you have to lead in the Southern Cone, how do you see exponential growth in Human Development? Do you dare to make a prediction where you think the world of talent management is headed in terms of its trends? 

    We are heading for a future work model that will increasingly respond to new technological, social, and economic influences, and this will require more flexible and agile companies. Smart/flexible working and the growing demand for work-life balance are some of the factors that will be driving these changes. For this, we must redesign our labor practices to adapt them to these changes and allow us to remain competitive in the race to attract and retain talent. 

    What trends do you think are coming for talent management? 

    - The employee as the center: attracting and retaining talent will be a great challenge for companies, so developing value proposals focused on the employee will be critical. As companies, we must become more empathetic, “put ourselves in the shoes” of our collaborators and create memorable experiences that suit everyone. According to a 2020 LinkedIn study, companies that invest in strong employee value propositions have higher employee retention (77%) and better productivity (71%). 

    96% of pro talent say EX is becoming more important.  

     (Global Talent Trends, Linkedin 2020)  

    -The work force made up of multi-generations is already a trend today. At least 4 different generations coexist in organizations: baby boomers, generation X, millennials, and centennials. Therefore, preparing the culture and leadership to manage this multigenerational talent is vital. 

    “Promoting work spaces that are diverse, inclusive and that maximize the potential of each generation makes a difference in attracting and retaining our talent.” 

    -The use ofpeople analyticshelps the business make better decisions and enables talent predictions in terms of attraction, performance management, retention, workforce planning. So analyzing this information and influencing decision-making using data will be critical in talent management. 

    - More flexible and agile forms of work: mainly driven by new generations, such as “digital natives” who question preconceived ideas about employment. The concept of work will continue to transform little by little. The new generations see work as an activity with a purpose and a process aimed at achieving results; it will not be a place where they will go to carry out the tasks assigned to them. Thanks to technology, we can now choose where and when we want to work, work from anywhere, stay in touch, and access documentation without going to the office and attending meetings. 

    -Flexible work is here to stay. Working from home or a virtual office will no longer be the exception, “presentism” and fixed hours will be increasingly questioned. 

    - Flexibility not only in schedules but also in hiring methods. I believe that over time many companies will stop measuring performance x hours worked and will begin to measure impact and achievement of objectives. Hiring people by project or/and consultants who work online or remotelyfrom anywhere in the world will also become a trend and common practice in talent management. 

    For this, we must have more agile work practices in which the individual has true autonomy. Therefore, it is not just a change in the employment contract but a change in the work culture and the mindsetof the leaders. 

    Visa Inc. 

     World-leading company in digital payments.  

     Mission: Connect the world through the most innovative, trusted, and secure payment network that enables people, businesses, and economies to thrive.  

     Its global processing network, VisaNet, is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages per second.  

     VisaNet connects more than 3 billion Visa cardholders with 44 million merchants and 16,300 financial institutions in 200 countries and territories.  


    Maria Ines Calvo | HR Director. Cono Sur VISA  



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