In the following excerpt from CareerBuilder’s recent interview with Philip Jaurigue, President and CEO of Sabre Systems, Inc., Jaurigue discusses, among other things, the importance of innovation, recognition and not looking in the rearview mirror.
Can you describe your philosophy as it relates to the impact your employees have on your business?
Because Sabre Systems, Inc. is a services business, our employees are the face of the company. A large portion of Sabre personnel work at customer locations and, in many instances, are the customers’ sole source of information with regard to Sabre’s culture and philosophy. This means that the attitude with which employees come to work in the morning, the way they conduct themselves while at work, and even their overall character convey a message about Sabre’s values and professionalism directly to our customer.
With that in mind, I encourage the leadership team to spend a fair amount of time engaging employees to ensure they feel they are a valued and integral part of the team. I also ask that company leadership ensures that potential Sabre team members are aligned with the mission, vision and culture of the company before bringing them on board.
How do you personally engage with and relate to your employees?
Sabre has an employee accolade program through which we reward employees who have exceeded expectations or have willingly stepped outside the confines of their daily responsibilities to provide support to another employee, manager or project. These employees often receive their “Above and Beyond” or “Employee Appreciation” awards in front of their colleagues or customers, who collectively celebrate their accomplishments and contributions. I urge managers to utilize this program and always try to be present to personally recognize those employees being honored.
I also make every effort to attend Sabre community events, holiday parties and other company functions, which provide opportunities for me to connect with employees outside of the work environment.
Recently, I have been looking for creative ways to use social media. I encourage Sabre employees to follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my blog so they are informed regarding the direction of – and what’s going on within – the company. This is especially beneficial to employees who spend the majority of their time at customer sites. Having access to these communication channels helps them feel connected, and sheds light on how they might grow their careers.
What would you say is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned to date?
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t look in the rearview mirror and expect the things you’ve done things in the past that made you successful are necessarily going to be the same things that keep you successful. It sounds a little bit counterintuitive, but from a business standpoint, it’s probably one of the worst things you can do. You have to be constantly reinventing yourself to keep yourself relevant and stay competitive.
Oftentimes, companies will become successful because they have been able to differentiate themselves from their competitors and communicate that value proposition to their customers. Your competitors are all going to copy what’s successful, so you constantly need to reposition and redefine yourself in order to continue growing. A leader’s role is to be a change agent in managing these transitions.
How do you define your internal culture?
I think employees at Sabre feel that they are empowered and generally encouraged to be creative and entrepreneurial. Sabre leadership encourages employees to be innovative in finding solutions for their customers and improving processes to achieve enhanced efficiency.
My role is to make sure that our reward system and that which we praise in the organization are consistent with what we’re asking our people to do, and with the culture we have cultivated. We try to come up with creative ways to recognize people and to reward people for their innovation. Rewarding those behaviors we deem desirable and beneficial to the company is the best thing that any leader can do.
What do you do to engage your employees and to reinforce your brand?
One thing that makes employees feel positive about their experience at Sabre is our involvement in the community. Sabre supports a number of different charitable projects – from a financial standpoint, as well as in terms of the time we spend on pro bono efforts. In the Philadelphia region specifically, we’ve twice been named one of the most philanthropic large companies in the area. We have people who are very actively involved in a number of not-for-profits and different community endeavors.
In today’s marketplace, it is important for a business to show that it’s not just about profits, losses and maximizing shareholder value, but that it also takes responsibility to give back and really help the community.
What advice would you share with your executive peers through this article?
I’ll go back to the topic of change. You don’t lead your company by looking in the rearview mirror. Don’t be afraid to reinvent your company and don’t fear; rather, embrace change.
ABOUT PHILIP P. JAURIGUE: Philip P. Jaurigue founded Sabre Systems, Inc. in 1989, and has served as President since its inception. Mr. Jaurigue’s primary focus and responsibility is providing strategic business leadership to drive the direction, stability and growth of Sabre. A frequent speaker at the Wharton School of Business and the Entrepreneur’s Forum of Greater Philadelphia, Mr. Jaurigue is also part-time co-host on the weekly radio show Executive Leaders Radio for WHFS 1580AM in Washington, DC.
ABOUT SABRE SYSTEMS.: Sabre Systems, Inc. is a professional services company that provides worldwide technology, scientific and management solutions to government and commercial clients. Core capabilities include information technology, engineering, program management support, training and logistics, and software development. Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Sabre has major offices in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, Indiana, California and South Carolina.