Our Reimagined Learning interview series shines a light on thought leaders, innovators and role-models in the Learning & Development and Human Resources fields. At Dee is for Digital we’re always in search of the next big idea. We want to bring you new ways to learn, and help your own learning curve by connecting with others who are doing amazing things.
This week we have an incredible woman who is setting standards high as the Corporate HR Director for ISDIN based in Barcelona - Aurea Benito! ISDIN is an international pharmaceutical company and a leader in the Spanish dermatology market.
Aurea exemplifies all the qualities of a stand-out HR leader - she is passionate about people, loves a challenge and has a personal drive that values business ethics, sustainability and a commitment to growth.
Read our interview with Aurea below (7 minutes).
Our Reimagined Learning Questions
What has been the most impactful learning experience you have had in your career to date?
I have learnt not to take things for granted and to constantly challenge my own beliefs. The three beliefs I have evolved are:
1. I used to take pride in being able to answer questions whilst now, what I value most is being able to ask the right ones. Collective intelligence outsmarts each and every one of us.
2. Secondly, I used to focus on hard skills whereas today I feel heart skills are the new hard. After all, as Daniel Goleman states, "Out-of-control emotions can make smart people stupid".
3. Lastly, I used to work on improving skillsets rather than mindset. Not anymore. Mindset is the lens we see the world through and it impacts us in the way we think, feel, and behave in any given situation. Now I know ignoring mindset is a mine site!
So to recap, my most impactful learning experiences are: the humbleness to ask questions, the courage to manage emotions and the power of the mindset.
Who is the person who has had the most positive impact on your career from a learning perspective and why?
I am thankful to a lot of people who in so many ways have made an impact on my career and have inspired me to make the choices I did. But if I have to narrow it down to one person this is my mum. She has always encouraged me to reach goals I never knew were possible. She has gone out of her way to make sure I learned skills, but most importantly, she has taught me to learn from my mistakes instead of avoiding them. She has always challenged me, shifting negative situations into positive learning experiences. But most importantly, she has given me strong values, such as humility, courage, generosity and integrity. Howard Gardner, the author of the theory of multiple intelligences, said: “Poor people cannot be excellent professionals. They fail to ever be. They may have technical expertise, but not excellent”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I’m excellent in any way. My point is: values create value.
If you could go back in time, what is the one piece of advice you would want to tell your younger self in hopes that it would positively affect your career?
Dare to dream big and take more chances. Dare to do more and make more mistakes. Dare to explore your limits and overcome them. Dare to laugh more, love more and live more.
What key lesson did you take from the more challenging times during your career?
Challenges are a part of every great journey. And every great journey has a great purpose. You know what they say: “When there is a will, there is a way”. Just switch “will” for “purpose”. When facing challenges, purpose has always been my guiding light both at a personal and at a professional level. Purpose yields the kind of person we admire, the type of companies we like to work for and the society we want to live in. As a mother of 3 teenagers, I encourage them to do the things that inspire them and take the best out of them. As an HR professional, I do likewise. If we all do the things that inspire us, can you imagine what a better world we could create?
What is the most important skill or behaviour you have learned that has been essential in getting you where you are today?
Listening. Truly listening, which it is not about merely holding your peace while someone else holds forth. It is about focusing on what the other person wants to convey instead of interrupting or planning your witty reply. It is about how you respond or even facilitate the clear expression of another person’s thoughts. Listening is about being humble, it is about caring and connecting with others and it is about opening up new horizons.
What are the biggest challenges facing employees today when it comes to their professional development?
We live in a volatile uncertain, complex, ambiguous world. And we have moved forward IQ: rational intelligence and EQ: emotional awareness. The speed of change makes it easy to lose pace and lack critical skills in the blink of an eye. We are currently in the era of LQ: learning quotient, since learning is a lifelong process. Our learnability will help us bridge the gap between our knowledge and what we need to know in this fast-moving world. Yet we all have different ways of learning. The danger is that we often become too busy sawing rather than taking time to sharpen the saw, as Stephen Covey taught us. So, let’s find out which is our learning style first so that we can accelerate learning.
How do you see your profession changing as technology advances or changes over time?
Data, predictive Analytics and AI are probably one of the biggest trends that will change the shape of HR. As technology continues to evolve, generalist roles as we know them today - Jack of all trades - will move to versatile specialists across five major areas: Data & Analytics, Culture & Employer Brand, Learning, Development and Change Management, Well-being and Compliance.
What do you think is one of the most innovative ways for people to learn from one another?
Every one you will ever meet knows something you don’t. So why not organise Learning Hackathons as an alternative approach to learning? The point is that you meet employees across the organisation as well as work with something that you don’t work with on a daily basis. The result is that you face new challenges, you share your knowledge, do a lot of listening, get new ideas, learn from others, generate outside-the -box creative thinking and most importantly, learn to collaborate. This encourages learning over knowing, peer-to-peer learning and generates learning communities. To top it off, if you measure the learning impact, the sky is the limit.
What are some of your favourite topics that you would like companies to include (or see more of) in their L&D programs?
Diversity,Inclusion and Equality, Adopting a new mindset: train the awareness on invisible learning, ESG, Innovative leadership, Collaborative knowledge and skill development, Digital Skills, Emotional Intelligence and Learning styles.
What are your thoughts on the future of learning in your field/industry?
Social learning will be the evolution from eLearning, where Learners are empowered to engage in knowledge transfer and peer learning in a collaborative learning dynamic, benefiting from other learners. Learning happens with and through other people, as a matter of participating in a community, not just by acquiring knowledge. People will form online cohorts and communities of practice that support their learning. As a result of engaging with others, we will: become better informed, improve critical thinking, gain a wider perspective, and therefore make better decisions.