Written on 16 Feb 2017.
Anne Bouverot is the Chairman and CEO of Morpho, the 2 Billion Euro revenue subsidiary of Safran. In front of the EDHEC Executive MBA participants and Alumni, Anne Bouverot spoke about values-based leadership and explained alumni about how to find purpose in their lives.
“I have always pretty much had international responsibilities” tells us Anne Bouverot as a short introduction, influenced by her French father and Canadian mother. After scientific studies, she gets a PhD in artificial intelligence and telecom engineering. She is now the President and CEO of Morpho, in process of selling by Safran. “It is a particularly strong time of change and that is one of the things that I have to adjust and manage as a CEO and as a leader “
In order to speak about leadership, Anne Bouverot tackles few important topics to keep in mind for a manager. The first key word is purpose: “I am a big believer in purpose. I have been working with the concept of purpose for the last 6 years and I found it very useful.” During her former job at GSMA, an international organization based in the UK, she saw the benefits of a formal purpose exercise: “when I arrived people didn’t really know what they stood for, there was a lack of sense of belonging and joint objectives, a lack of membership feeling”. The board felt that the organization wasn’t working on behalf of the members and they decided to launch a purpose exercise, with the purpose “connecting everyone and everything to a better future”. “That was useful in getting people to relate to why their job was important”. At Morpho she also fostered a purpose experience with the motto “making life safer and easier in a connected world and to trusted identities”. According to her, “conducting the exercise with your team is very powerful and getting something that people can relate to is very important”.
"You have a part about saying no” declares Anne Bouverot in a second time. With examples of career defining moment for her, she stresses on the signification to prove a point: “it is important to fight for what you think is right, it is important to listen to the people who will make the decision and understand where they come from."
The third key idea for a leader is helping your team: “when you are in a management position of course you can give people orders, you can give objectives you can tell them not to do something or to do other things. You have a number of powers over them and I also strongly believe that you have a number of responsibilities, from an ethical perspective but also in order to help them to do a better job.”
As a manager and as a leader it is important to spend a lot of time thinking about how you can help your team or how you can help them to concentrate on doing their jobs. It is also the role of a manager to wonder whether people in the team are in the best possible role, depending on where they stand in their career. Finally a leader isolates the team a bit from the stress coming from above and from customers, he or she decides how to communicate some of it and adjust it. “If you do that you gain the fact that it helps you to do a better job and helps you to gain the respect of your team.”
Authenticity is another strong point: “I have always been a strong believer in authenticity, speaking the truth to people. One of the things I have learnt more recently is about being authentic about your weaknesses and things you don’t do perfectly.”
As a conclusion Anne Bouverot reminds us the importance of dreams. “We speak about jobs and careers but in the end, it is about life, it is about what you really want to do.” Dreams are important, especially during periods of transition, asking yourself what do you like doing. Anne Bouverot concludes her intervention with the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011: “’If your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough’ - I encourage you to have big dreams!”