Going from a Good to a Great Manager

Interview with Benedict Hernandez

Nowadays, it doesn’t take much to be a “boss.”That said, having the title doesn’t necessarily mean being a good leader. Strong leadership skills require vision, the ability to inspire and challenge, and communication skills on top of honesty and integrity, to get your people to buy into the journey you are taking them on. All these qualities have made Benedict Hernandez one of the most successful entrepreneurstoday.

As APAC Service Delivery Lead of Accenture Operations, Benedict runs the global management consulting and professional services firm’s BPO operations in the Philippines. Getting to this point in his career didn’t come easy. It took decades of hard work to help him get to where he is today.

Every job — no matter how seemingly inconsequential — is meaningful to reach your end goal.

According to StevePavlina.com, one of today’s most popular personal development websites,end goals define outcomes where you’re unwilling to compromise — these describe exactly what you want to achieve. Means goals, on the other hand, define the many paths that help youreach your end goals.

Benedict’s journey to being Managing Director of Accenture Operationsincluded a number of detours in jobs from various fields before reaching his end goal.

At 15, he was a working student and the youngest staff member at Speechpower. At 19, right after graduating with a B.S. degree in Psychology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, he became the youngest faculty member at the same department. He found himself wanting to make a difference in the corporate worldsoon after, and joining Smart Communications as part of their Customer Care Leadership was his first step into this new chapter in his professional life. At 26, Benedict left Smart for Nextel Communications as Director of their Customer Care Division.And at 29, he became a General Manager at eTelecare. All these jobs taught him invaluable knowledge and people skills before joining Accenture at 39 years old.

“Taking on big, audacious, never-been-done-before challenges. It was what made work exciting and meaningful for me.”

This frame of mind is what drives Benedict professionally, and being awarded as one of theTen Most Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines (TOYM) at Malacañang Palace in 2006 for his achievements in Business Entrepreneurship is a testament to his success at managing people.

From the get-go, when he chose subjects to teach in UP that most students didn’t like, such asResearch Methods and Statistics in Psychology, his goal was “to figure out how to make learning both relevant and relatable to the students, if not engaging.” Benedict didn’t want to merely teach. “I wanted to take on something that is hard to do and make it happen.”

This thought process is what brought about the common theme in his professional life — “To be a part of a pioneer player that eventually led an entire industry boom, creating far reaching impact to countless people and communities in positive ways.” In the ‘90s, it was the telco industry with Smart. In the 2000s, it was with the pioneer call center in the country, eTelecare. And a decade later, he felt the need to make a difference with Accenture. “With hundreds of thousands of call center jobs now in the Philippines, I believed that the Filipino could excel in other professions, so I joined Accenture, known for its broad-based professional services capabilities in consulting, technology, and BPO.”

Benedict’s managerial style is foolproof: He is, first and foremost, purpose-driven. He is aware that no organization can excel without a clear sense of purpose. “For me, that purpose was to leverage the BPO platform by showcasing world-class Filipino professionals and to create countless jobs in the country with a sense of pridein our talent and capabilities.”

How to successfully cross the fine line between being a good and a great manager? Make your people shine.

While being a good manager means having a clear vision, hiringthe right people, planning well, solving problems, rewarding good performance and implementing consequences for poor performance; being a leader means steering your ship to uncharted waters by bringing out the best in your people.

For Benedict, a great manager has the ability to know your people as unique individuals and to tap into their authenticity by connecting with them. “They help the individuals discern where their true strengths and passions are, and pave the way for them to take on roles that showcase those strengths and passions.”

From his humble beginnings as a teacher in Speechpowerto leaving a positive imprint in the corporate world with Accenture, Benedict Hernandez understands that, at the end of the day, it’s never about you, but about the team. And he sums up this indispensable wisdom perfectly: “The goal is not to be a rock star leader. The goal is to develop teams that rock.”

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