Meeting with Luis Gallardo, one of the speakers at the Universum Awards in Sweden, one couldn’t help but acknowledge the charisma and warmth of this man. Luis is the founder and CEO of ThapGroup, a consultancy that helps companies adopt the: Think Holistic Act Personal business philosophy. Previously, he was managing director of global brand and marketing at Deloitte and has a wealth of experience in the field. Luis held a session entitled “Build your Future Employer Brand” and the audience bought into the main idea: What does a brand stand for? What does it want to be known for? As he rightly pointed out, so many professionals in the field don’t know the answers to these questions and if they do, they might just be off track.
Our mission as branding professionals is to be focused on the bigger picture and always strive to get people aligned. Yet what’s more important is that it’s really about people relationships and how that builds the reputation of the company. As he rightly pointed out, Philip sells to Mathew an experience at Company X and it’s that, ultimately, which creates the brand.
However, having a personal conversation with Luis, he told me a dramatic story about how the Deloitte office in Madrid burnt down. Watching it on the news, breathless with shock, his first concern was if everyone was safe. Families were contacted and fortunately nobody was injured – Deloitte’s people were out of harm’s way. Worried clients called from everywhere and were relieved to hear that Deloitte’s people were secure. Amazingly, the firm received an overwhelming amount of sympathy and solidarity, as clients offered to help in any way possible: by providing temporary office space, computers and other essentials – a competing firm even kindly lent their boardroom to Deloitte.
The morale of the story is that the loss of material objects, or tangible assets for the accountant, isn’t the major problem. Although the burning down of the office was unfortunate and costly, people were safe and that was all that mattered. The loss of the building was an inconvenience, but Deloitte could continue its business as usual, with the help it received from clients. The reason being: it was lucky enough to have its people – who had the skills, the competence and the knowledge to continue serving the industry.
Yet there is another important aspect to this story that Luis brought to my attention. It was the relationships that Deloitte’s people had with its clients that resulted in the firm receiving a tremendous amount of support around them. Again, it was Deloitte’s people that made the reputation of the firm – its people were its brand. This is what others in the field refer to as human capital, an intangible asset. Although it cannot be accounted for in the books, the value people provide to a company is priceless and should never be taken for granted – thank you Luis for telling us this story.
Luis bases his work on a model that he has built called the six Rs. His guiding mantra is THAP: Think Holistic, Act Personal. When he joined Deloitte he was confronted with the challenge “Think Global, Act Local” – a school of thought that has been guiding marketers for the last few years. However, how is this really achievable? Can one truly have a global perspective and can they be here and there all at the same time?
THAP is a more pragmatic and complex approach, as it takes into account the interconnectivity of life, the environment and the world, i.e. “the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole”. It goes beyond the think global dimension, as it encourages one to consider how one component can affect another and how the relationship between the various parts should create the desired outcome. While adopting a holistic mindset might be challenging, being personal, however, should be easily achievable in comparison to the feat of acting local worldwide. Although some level of cultural intelligence and sensitivity is required, one just has to be authentic. Perhaps the concept of THAP is just a question of semantics, but one does derive power from naming things accurately. If you want to know more about the THAP approach, we encourage you to contact Luis.
Below is the model that Luis recommends and encourages professionals to use when assigned to develop their company’s brand. We will not go in-depth on each point below, but will merely outline the basic principles.
In its simplicity and strength, Luis mentioned Deloitte’s three guiding business priorities being:
Interestingly, he pointed out that the brand acted as a bearing point, a connection, between clients and the firm’s employees, prospective hires and new recruits. The challenge was defining what the brand means: what are the values? What is the identity of the company?
This forms part of the company’s strategy. As a branding professional, your mission is to be focused on building the brand and ensuring that your people are correctly aligned to its values – as it’s their professional conduct that will make or break the reputation of your company. When creating your company’s strategy think of Client, Brand and Talent.
Again probably a question of semantics, but Luis seems to be someone who is extremely accurate. He dislikes the word “war” and prefers to replace it by “competition”. Naturally, he said that there is always a competition for talent, the question is – “how aggressive is it?” Being an extremely rational person, he says that the intensity of the competition depends on the following factors:
In the end, he believes that it’s more important to recruit somebody who has the right cultural fit to your organization than focus your energy on getting, for example, the best students at the top MBA schools, because naturally the competition will be extremely fierce in this particular arena.
After a long conversation with Luis, I asked him if he had any final recommendations to give to all employer branding professionals. His four guiding principles are:
Luis Gallardo is the founder and CEO of ThapGroup, a consultancy that helps companies adopt the Think Holistic Act Personal business philosophy. Previously, he was managing Director of Global Brand & Marketing at Deloitte. He holds a bachelor degree in Political Science and an MBA degree from IMD Business School.