In today’s world, organisations need to act with purpose and with high impact as much as possible. Erika Giorgana is Humand CEO & Founder, as well as a passionate believer in the power of people and the impact they can have on businesses. Named CEO of the Year, 2022 – London, the United Kingdom, by the team at CEO Monthly, we thought it was the right time to catch up with Erika to uncover more.
Founded just five years ago, Humand had already managed to establish itself as a leading player, especially when companies are looking for people who can revolutionise the way they work. Businesses will need to find ways of becoming simpler, faster, and more flexible, and achieving this will require the right people in the right positions. Big companies struggle because they cannot always provide a boutique service – one perfectly matched to the needs of the business. That’s where Humand thrives.
Humand offers a way of achieving large-scale business transformation, leveraging digitalisation and agility to help organisations from every industry and of any size to reconfigure their operating models. For them, however, it’s not the technology that is most important to achieving success. It’s the people. That’s the secret that has allowed its CEO & Founder, Erika Giorgana, to thrive in an immensely competitive sector.
Erika has overseen growth at a tremendous rate whilst at Humand, building on her own deep experience at the frontline of organisational agility. Her strength of purpose has seen her partner up with many passionate leaders, all of whom are thinking towards the future of what business can and will be. “We are consultants, but we have a strong ‘why’, behind everything that we do,” Erika explains. “Our Purpose is to mobilize organizations into Purposeful and High-Impact Human systems. At Humand, “we sell what we do.”
Since opening the company’s doors, Erika has managed to build an incredible team of experts around her who not only share her dream, but have her passion for the field. “We collaborate, experiment, innovate, and deliver value at speed,” she says with a smile. “We are not just advisors – we work hand in hand with our client’s transformation teams to make what they believe is almost impossible, possible.”
Erika doesn’t just offer empty words when it comes to growth. She applies the same techniques to her clients as she does to her own company. Whilst the big firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain bring their own reputations and brand recognition to the table, she has immense experience on her side, not just on how to support these businesses, but on how to support her own staff.
These thoughts have very much guided her approach to running her own business. “I believe top-down leadership is outdated, and, more importantly, counterproductive,” she tells us. “Unfortunately, there are still too many organisations and leaders that haven’t realised that by focusing too much on profit and end goals, and not on people, whether it’s employees or consumers, they are making it more difficult to achieve their own desired outcomes.”
In Erika’s experience, leadership has to change in order to ensure that businesses are able to thrive in an ever-changing world. “A leader’s main responsibility is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energised so they can bring their best selves to work,” she tells us. “It is not easy to achieve this. It takes hard work and new mindset. Every day I try to do my best to be a servant leader, to be humble and to do everything that is in my hands to help the people from my team grow as human beings, providing tangible and emotional support as they do so.”
As a result, Humand has been able to develop a team atmosphere where anyone and everyone feels welcome to contribute to the group. Instead of everyone being siloed into specific tasks, the company structure builds on each person’s strengths and accepts their weaknesses. “At Humand, we’ve realised that we can’t transform businesses and provide a world class experience without talented and passionate people,” Erika explains. “Once we find the best talent, we make sure we give them the freedom and foundation to shine at their brightest.”
This structure has allowed the team to make quicker decisions better than many other consultancies. There are no hierarchies, with the business built around multiple empowered teams. Each is responsible for specific clients, with the ability to set their own objectives, key results and backlog. These small but powerful teams are multidisciplinary, meaning that a mix of skills is always on hand. Working in this agile fashion has allowed Humand to support clients through varying challenges with a consistent degree of success. “This, I believe, creates an atmosphere that encourages everyone to be themselves and be at their best,” Erika tells us. The results certainly speak to this sterling effort.
The challenge for Erika, however, remains finding top talent to support her and the team she has been proud to build. “For us finding the right skills is super important, but not everything,” she explains. “We also need people who match our values, vision, and, most importantly, our purpose. If there’s anything the last few years has taught us is, it’s that skills are important, but people who share your vision and are aligned to your purpose can not only grow within the organisation but grow the organisation. So, finding the combination of the two is our biggest challenge.”
Whilst it’s clear that people are at the heart of Humand, technology has an increasingly important role to play. “During the past three years, at Humand, we have been experimenting with more technology-heavy offerings,” Erika tells us. “One of our most important has been the development of an online tool that allows our customers make their agile people ecosystem come to life. Our platform helps companies create agile HR processes and build responsive teams through a skill-based approach.” Development of this exciting idea is still ongoing, with 2023 seeing the launch of a new and improved version of this platform. For Erika, her team, and her clients, it’s certain to be a gamechanger!
Looking forward, Erika plans to continue on a path of pushing into bold new territory and exploring brave new ways of working. “If I assume that my experience of the last 16 years is what’s going to help me be successful in the next few, I would be very wrong!” she laughs. “I know that what got me here will not necessarily get me there. So, my plans for the future are basically focused on listening to our clients’ needs, and continuing to innovate and learn new skills.”