“Synthetic intelligence is our large guess and can rework the consulting work”, says Viviane Martins, Falconi’s CEO
the engineer Viviane Martins is CEO of the largest consultancy Brazilian business and people management, the falcon — and also from the holding company of the same name that integrates other businesses of the group. The company currently operates in 50 sectors in more than 40 countries, and is recognized for its agility in operations, boosted by artificial intelligence.
PhD in Business Administration from PUC-MG, Viviane took charge of the company in 2018, where she joined eighteen years earlier as a trainee. With the presidency, she also led the company’s business expansion and diversification. Today the group brings together a dozen brands in areas such as people development, software and applications for management and private investments.
At the head of a team of 1,200 professionals on four continents, the executive is also an impact leader in the UN Global Compact in Brazil and promotes one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the SDG 8 (which refers to decent work and economic growth).
Below, check out the main excerpts from the interview given to BUSINESS season:
Época NEGÓCIOS – Under his management, Falconi adopted practices such as “short Friday”, where every Friday the company works only until lunchtime. Mental health has been a much discussed topic in the last two years. In your opinion, how do Brazilian companies deal with the matter?
Viviane Martins – Throughout the pandemic, we all began to question ourselves and reevaluate the importance of life-work integration. Within Falconi, this required a very deep and genuine review of how we care for people. The attention we give to mental health has changed level. I believe it was the biggest change in people management since I took over as president at the end of 2018.
Overall, I believe companies are starting to understand that mental health is imperative. We, the companies, are part of the problem. The problem is not necessarily born in the person’s family, it is often born in the work environment. So, if we are part of the problem, we have to be part of the solution.
How can leaders find these solutions?
We need to take a proactive view of this, mental health cannot simply be delegated to the individual. The company needs to understand what are the factors that stimulate good mental health, what is the environment, psychological safety, culture, what is the leadership style that this person is developing, what challenges and opportunities are given to him/her to perform his/her role. talent. You change people’s lives as you look at needs in an integrated way. The company needs to understand how it handles and treats human needs at a collective level.
What was the main challenge for Falconi’s customers in this pandemic period?
This varies by sector, because we serve any segment of the economy, both public and private. Some sectors grew during the pandemic and their pain was: “How do I support my growth?”. These companies expanded at a speed that routines and processes did not keep up, and technology was the first key to be turned. On the other hand, some sectors shrank, and then the type of help they asked us for was different, more along the lines of: “Help me shrink in a healthy way”. Today, I see companies already thinking about medium-term growth and also reviewing their digital transformation strategies.
For companies that started or accelerated digital transformation in the pandemic, what needs to be reviewed now?
Several companies are questioning the effectiveness of the digital transformation they have made. I say we are entering a second wave of digital transformation. At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies adopted tools to open sales channels, for example, or to support some necessary integrations, but these digital transformations did not necessarily translate into a change in results. In particular, I believe that digital governance and alignment of objectives may have been lacking. Some refinements, in terms of digital transformation, are still needed, and companies have been looking for this improvement.
Falconi is recognized for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its methodology. What is your perception of the adoption of AI in consulting work?
Artificial intelligence within technology is Falconi’s big bet. We have been developing this internally, and I believe it will transform consulting work more and more profoundly. Today, we build in-house algorithms that we develop on demand for the customer and also embark on new digital products. We see artificial intelligence applied in two types of solutions: fully tailored projects and products that are more scalable and that can also help sustain good customer results.
What is the impact of AI on analytics?
I would say that we were always very facts and figures [fatos e dados], that is, analysis has always been a big step in our work along with the implementation phase. I joke that we used to make analog intelligence since our origins, and today, with the tools we have, we increase that potential. I’m not just talking about artificial intelligence, but Big Data, the ability to process volumes of data and variable amounts of parameters simultaneously. This took our analytical capability to the next level.
So when I say “I do artificial intelligence”, as a business we remain very analytical, but on another level, where I can generate much more value for the customer in a much faster way. If ten years ago it took me four months to develop the analysis phase to arrive at the recommendations, today it can take three to four weeks. Furthermore, we have moved from a descriptive level to a prescriptive level.
Do you perceive greater assertiveness in the recommendations?
Much bigger. Today I can handle a number of variables simultaneously that I couldn’t handle before in traditional analysis. Furthermore, today you can discover and test hypotheses that are not intuitive, so the analyst has a completely different tool at his disposal. When I compare what our teams do today to what I did when I started, it’s very different in terms of tools and AI. We always keep trying to generate a very pragmatic result for the client. We are known for this good implementation skill. We are problem solvers, and technology is a vector for us to solve these problems.
What kind of problems does data science help solve?
People management is a challenge that many of our customers are facing. They recently faced turnovers [taxa de rotatividade dos funcionários] high, difficulties even in recruiting certain profiles, especially technological ones, and in retaining these profiles. We have been developing this intelligence that we call people analytics to help solve this kind of problem with embedded artificial intelligence as well, where prescriptions greatly increase the chances of retention and reduce the turnover in a measurable way.
You are an impact leader of the UN Global Compact in Brazil and promote SDG 8, on decent work and economic growth. What is the situation in Brazil: are we more or less advanced in relation to other countries?
In Brazil, in general, we have a very large gap in relation to the goal of the 2030 Agenda, which is proposed by the UN. This is in relation to ODS 8, but it does not differ much from the other ODS, with the exception of ODS 4, which is energy. The gap is huge even when compared to other countries in Latin America and Central America – I’m not even talking about countries ahead and that are benchmarks in each of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Why this gap? Isn’t there a concern of Brazilian companies to implement actions that promote decent work?
When we think about the SDGs, there is a natural parallel with ESG, and there, yes, there is an awareness of large companies for ESG, especially in terms of governance, a topic in which Brazil has progressed since the late 1990s, with efforts of various organizations, such as the Exchange itself. More recently, there is a slightly more attentive look at the environmental issue, which has not yet become such impactful actions, but is beginning to have this awareness.
The “social” lags behind, and SDG 8 has a strong relationship with the social. So I see that we still have a big gap and that big gap got worse during the pandemic. Social inequalities have increased, so no matter what we look at, we are not making progress in this field of social development. What I strongly believe is in the interdependence between these SDGs. For example: I won’t have sustainable economic development if I don’t take care of the environment. They all have to be very well connected.
What other barriers does Brazil face in meeting the SDG 8 targets?
In Brazil, there is an important point, which is the decent salary, especially at a time when inflation is once again significant. It is one of the agendas on which the Global Compact has been raising discussions, well aligned with the global agenda. But there’s something that bothers me a lot too. There are still cases of work analogous to slavery in Brazil, you repeatedly witness actions by the Ministry of Labor and other inspection bodies finding situations like this. This is unacceptable.
As a Brazilian, this really freaks me out. For us to talk about wealth generation, increase in per capita income, investment capacity of companies that translates into an improvement in society, we have to overcome this current condition. It is not possible to live with situations analogous to the slave labor that we see every day. In the last 12 months, more than a thousand people have been rescued from this situation. Brazil cannot accept this, cannot live with it.
What is the role of leaders in promoting decent working conditions?
We need to have a very pragmatic corporate culture in this regard. Face that we need to have goals, have this embedded in the strategy and business model, otherwise it will be assigned to an area to take care of and it won’t work. It has to permeate the whole business. And it can’t just be isolated actions, you have to make it part of management, part of governance and part of people management. In short: actions need to be embedded in the strategy, business model, goals and projects so that they produce concrete results. If not, it stays in the field of intentions.
What are the main trends for the future of work?
The World Economic Forum lists a ranking of skills for the future every year. If you do a survey of the last five years, you will see that some of these traits are always in the top 10. I would highlight three: the ability to solve problems, the ability of people to relate and the ability of people to be creative and innovate. For me, this will be decisive because it translates into adaptability. Today, the problems are not as well known as they were ten or twenty years ago. The problems are new, and they are dynamic. Every professional needs to have the ability to learn and unlearn. I often say that we are not in the age of knowledge, we are in the age of learning.
Source: Época Negócios