INSEAD Participant Interview

Replacing competitive with collaborative

Liliana Catoja

Liliana Catoja, Executive Board Member at the Banco Internacional de Moçambique, wanted coaching to make a key professional transition. What she learned along the way was the double power of networking.

Liliana, what was it that brought you to INSEAD in 2020?

Well, I have always loved learning and I make it a priority to learning something new every year. But in 2020, I had a very concrete motivation to invest in my development: I was promoted to the Board of Directors.

Throughout my career I have always been mentored by a superior. Transitioning to the board, suddenly I was the superior and it became down to me to do the mentoring. I’d gone from managing mid-sized teams to leading more than 200 people. So I knew I was ready for some coaching of my own – and some real insights into how to empower and galvanise people to bring results at scale; to help them become quick and effective in execution. I knew it was time to go back to school.

Why did you choose INSEAD?

I’d heard about INSEAD and I took the decision that since I was investing in my education, it had to be the best school. I had real confidence that the school and the Leading for Results programme would deliver in terms of giving me the knowledge and the right tools to manage people and to really consolidate that transition to executive board member.

Of course, the safety and travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic meant that the programme had to be delivered 100% online. Was this a concern for you?

To be honest, the idea of learning virtually didn’t worry me, and in practice it was very easy. My colleagues and I were already used to working remotely in 2020. Like everyone around the world, we’d had to adapt and rethink the protocols or the rules of engagement, and learning was no different. Something I did really appreciate though was how deft the faculty were in empowering everyone to contribute in the live sessions.

People are very different and some participants were more introverted than others. In the online context, that can be challenging and people can be unintentionally overlooked. However, the professors took great care to balance the communication protocols and dynamics – everyone was given the opportunity to speak and share their input.

So you were able to really leverage the peer dynamic and group coaching activities despite the physical distances?

Absolutely. There were simply no constraints. Each time we came together it felt natural and easy, as well as interesting and exciting.

What would you say were the key takeaways of the programme?

I think a key takeaway for me has been understanding the importance of networking – and networking in two ways. First, there’s between co-workers within the organisation. It’s that shift to a kind of co-working or collaboration that networking drives. This also came out during our 360-degree coaching sessions; when you’re actively networking with each other you move from simply sailing to saying ‘where am I going, and who am I travelling with?’

The second type of networking is the networking that happens outside the organisation and the value that external expertise and perspective can bring. The programme taught me how critical this kind of networking can also be, both in terms of your own professional and personal development, and for the well-being of the organisation. It’s getting those different insights and ideas that really enhances your ability to frame things.

What did you think of faculty?

Our professors were brilliant. They know their subject intimately, but they are so adept at making you feel included. At no point do you ever feel bad for not knowing things. They simply engage you in your own learning in a way that makes it feel like a collaboration. It’s like they take out the competitive and bring in the collaborative. The experience is thoroughly empowering – so much so that I’m already looking forward to pursuing another programme with INSEAD in the future!

Find out more about the Leading for Results programme on our webpage or download the brochure.

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