CHRO Ann Marr spills on their 'secret sauce'
World Wide Technology (WWT) announced on November 7 that it’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore was certified as a Great Place to Work and Great Place to Learn.
While employee culture has long been a cornerstone of their success in the US, this is the first time that the software company had received the certifications in Asia.
Earlier this year, WWT US was named one of the ‘FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For’ – for the 8th consecutive year no less – according to global research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and Fortune.
WWT also received the recognition in London for three years in a row.
To get on the coveted list, organisations need to have at 70% of its employees rate a positive employee experience across key indicators on a trust index, namely for credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie.
Company culture: Ambassadorship begins with impact
Simply said, getting recognised year after year is no mean feat, which is why HRD spoke to Ann Marr, Vice President, Global HR, to get an idea of how they’ve managed to sustain their strong culture.
According to Marr, their success lies in this: WWT continuously enables everyone in the company, at all levels and all locations, to have ownership of their culture.
“We have individuals all throughout the company that help us reinforce the culture [globally],” she said. “We have found ways to make sure that we continue to disseminate that culture as we continue to grow.
“We always tell people when they come in that they have to be ambassadors. HR can’t do it alone. It can start and stop in St. Louis, so we have to look to other employees and leaders to help us disseminate the culture as we continue to grow.
“And employees are so committed to the culture [when] they like what it means and what it brings to the company. When you have employees who believe in it, as much as it’s a challenge [to sustain it] as you get bigger, they don’t want to see the company lose the emphasis on culture.”
Leadership’s vital role
‘Disseminating’ or aligning culture across such a large, global organisation with over 5000 employees can get tricky, so what’s their secret?
“It comes back to the local leadership,” she said. “It comes back to them embracing the philosophies of our leadership initiatives, and really believing in it and creating programs.
“We look to the local leadership to customise [programs] based on the employees at their location. So, we’re flexible about making sure that it resonates with all the teams around the globe but it has to have the core of what our leadership philosophy means.”
As a leader, reinforcing that culture through disruptive changes – turnover and the changing work environment – can get exhausting. But Marr reminded that you have to ‘keep it going’ to sustain it in the long run and impact the organisation.
“You have to be passionate about culture,” she said. “You have to create something that’s sustainable for the long term. It can’t be something that you do now but do something different the next year.”
She believes this is especially crucial because people are attracted to something that is “solid, sustainable and resonates” with their own core values and philosophy.
“To sustain culture, it has to be something that people could really believe in and see how it impacts them personally as well as professionally,” she said.
This is why culture should be the focus of any leader, added Marr. Additionally, leaders should always remember to embody and reflect the company’s culture.
“Leaders should always aspire to be in a position where leadership is a responsibility that you take seriously,” she said.
“As a leader in any organisation, you have to continue to raise the bar. What are you doing to continue to impact the organisation, to continue to add value?
“There’s certainly a lot of different characteristics of leadership, but I think if you could create something that’s bigger than yourself, and something sustainable long-term, it’s going to attract people to your organisation. It’s going to make them come. It’s going to make them want to stay.”