|Living the Odebrecht philosophy
|The second Program for Developing Entrepreneurs (PDE)
course ended in October, broadening participants’
knowledge and experience of applying the Odebrecht
Entrepreneurial Technology on the job on a daily basis
|written by ◦ Simone Goldberg
photos by ◦ Almir Bindilatti
André Ribeiro, Clarice Romariz, Mauro Hueb and Alexandre Assaf work for Construtora Norberto Odebrecht. They have all taken part in the Program for Developing Entrepreneurs (PDE), which aims to accelerate partners’ development by integrating their Life and Career Plans and helping them understand and apply the values that make up the Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology (TEO). More than just assimilating the concepts of the company’s culture, these four Odebrecht members have acquired the strong conviction that it is important to apply these values on a daily basis throughout their working lives.
A civil engineer who has been working in Carajás, Pará, since August, on a project for Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), André was a member of the second group to participate in the PDE program. His course ended in October. He clearly recalls the most striking lessons he learned there. One of them, which has helped him carry out practical tasks on the job, was inspired by a lecture about Odebrecht’s experience in Angola and the company’s relationship with the local communities.
He became interested in this subject because before he went to Pará, and during the PDE course, André was working on the Mass Transportation project in the city of Salvador, a venture that had a major impact on residents’ lives. Knowing how to relate with the community under these conditions was a challenge. “Angola is a country where the company is carrying out several community relations programs. The report on Odebrecht’s Angolan experience gave me a better understanding of that process,” he relates. André applied what he learned when, seeking to improve relations between the company and the community in Salvador, Odebrecht set up a service center to provide information about the project. “As a result, people came to understand the project better and accept what we were doing.”
“I pay more attention to my team members and leaders
and relate better with my Clients” - Mauro Hueb
André says that he also learned important lessons at the PDE about overcoming challenges, creativity and the ability to innovate that are coming in handy now, in the interior of Pará. “Logistics are extremely difficult, and it is hard to mobilize workers out here. We had to build accommodations in order to bring people in to work on the project, but teamwork makes everything possible.”
“Challenge” is the word of the day in Odebrecht’s hallways and jobsites. But people do not always have enough time to study these challenges in depth, theoretically, while solutions emerge in the course of every job being done. This has been the experience of engineer Mauro Hueb, who in March became Contract Director of the port project at Ponta da Madeira, Maranhão, also under contract to CVRD. Mauro completed the first PDE course in 2003, and today he realizes that the program is an important part of his professional routine.
“I’ve started paying more attention to my team members and leaders and relating better with the Client, and I am prepared to offer alternatives that will ensure the Client’s satisfaction,” he says. Something has changed for the better, he is sure of that. “The PDE helped me apply TEO more automatically from day to day. It’s like learning a new language. When you begin studying it, you always stop to think before you speak. Then suddenly, you find that you’ve assimilated what you’ve learned and begin speaking fluently.” Now, Mauro gets together with his team to discuss and reflect on TEO once a month.
The boost the PDE gives to people’s learning and understanding of the company’s culture has also influenced the behavior of economist Alexandre Assaf, who says he is more confident now when carrying out his entrepreneurial tasks. At the moment, he is having his first experience of working outside Brazil as the officer responsible for Administration-Finance on the basic sanitation project in Lima, Peru. Assaf, who took part in the first PDE group together with Mauro Hueb in 2003, says that the program has been fundamental to helping him deal with the difficulties and demands of his job while staying motivated.
“I remember the lessons I learned at the PDE when doing my job on a daily basis. I’m more open to talking with my leader and team members, and I am more confident when applying the company’s philosophy in practice: practicing the delegation of responsibility, being more demanding of myself and others, following up on tasks and seeing that the results appear. These days, I make a point of being evaluated and working within the goals of an Action Program.”
The PDE course that ended in October encouraged engineer Clarice Romariz to discuss her intention to change programs in the company with her leaders. Clarice started out in the planning program at the Macaé Base, where she coordinated onshore activities for the platform maintenance project the Petrobras South Asset. “I realized that I wanted a change. I was doing a lot of office work and wanted to go out into the field. I discussed this with my leader and as soon as an opportunity arose, I was transferred to the production area.” As a result, before she even finished the PDE course, Clarice had found a new job that was better suited to her interests and abilities. Now she is motivated to develop her life and career plan: growing and taking on greater challenges at Construtora Norberto Odebrecht.
“I am more confident when applying the company’s
philosophy in practice” - Alexandre Assaf
The PDE course includes three modules, following the dynamic of the Engineering & Construction business: developing opportunities, winning (and satisfying) clients, and doing the job, all of which is based on TEO. Each module consists of two stages: advance preparation (distance) and face-to-face meetings where participants discuss real case studies spotlighting successes and failures and exchange ideas among themselves and with members from other generations within the organization, including the Group’s founder, Norberto Odebrecht. There are also several exercises, including one that encourages and innovates on the practice of using Action Programs and another that encourages members to reflect on and plan for their personal and professional development.
“The PDE is an opportunity to bring together all three generations in the company, from Norberto Odebrecht to the third generation, represented by Marcelo Odebrecht, and through those contacts, we can accelerate the transmission of the company’s culture,” observes the program’s academic coordinator, Professor Moisés Swirski.
According to Antonio Rezende, a member of the entrepreneurial coordination team for the PDE program, the idea is to create an environment where several generations can exchange experiences in a way that cannot happen on a day-to-day basis on the job due to the company’s growth. “This isn’t a technical program, although it covers all the functions of the business,” says Rezende. Ciro Barbosa, another member of the entrepreneurial coordination team, adds, “The PDE is not a passport for becoming an entrepreneur but a tool that prepares young people to understand the entrepreneurial process and helps groom people who will eventually become entrepreneurs, depending on leaders’ assessments of their team members’ performance in the course of their education on the job and through work.”
Rezende says that the PDE does not focus on measuring results. “The aim of this program is to bridge the gap between generations in the company; giving people with a long track record of accomplishment an opportunity to share their experiences with people whose accomplishments are still ahead of them, as an extension of education through work. Our aim is to work on participants’ attitudes, but life will decide how they deal with that in practice.”
The first group to take the PDE course included 28 students ranging from young people to more mature professionals. That experience served as a kind of pilot program for assessment. Participants were encouraged to contribute their suggestions and critical analysis, with a view to improving the next course’s structure and content. The second PDE group included 37 participants and the course covered new themes – such as investments – and different case studies for discussion and exercises. “The PDE has to evolve continually, just like the entrepreneurial task in real life,” says Rezende.
Luiz Villar, Pedro Novis and Renato Baiardi, members of the Board of Directors of Odebrecht S.A. who are also on the organization’s Corporate Culture Committee and PDE lecturers, attended the October graduation ceremony for the second group.
The third group, which will take the course in 2005, will find still further improvements in the PDE. The renewal of case studies and themes continues, because different challenges arise every year, and the company’s situation also changes. However, the structure of the program remains the same – a maximum of 35 students can take part in each course. However, the PDE will intensify its focus on reflecting on leader-team member relations, and life and career plans will be discussed in greater depth. "Leader-team member relations make the company tick, because it operates through delegation. We must reflect more on this link during the PDE,” says Professor Moisés Swirski. The course will also include competitive exercises to make the analysis of the company’s case studies more challenging. "The bigger the challenge, the more we learn,” says Swirski. "The PDE instigates change and encourages participants to go out and find fresh challenges,” he adds. "They are already audacious. All they need is a challenge to show how far they can go.”