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Paul Erunse, Senior Vice President of Business Controls at MetLife, says any negative experience can be used to help shape you into a more inclusive leader. Keep reading to learn more about Paul’s perspective on making real impact in your career.
Paul Erunse has been a program manager and business analyst for large portions of his career. This has allowed him to spend time in Technology, Operations, Finance, Investments, Sales & Marketing and Human Resources. His last two leadership roles have been leading the transformation of the HR function at MetLife and, most recently, moving into our Global Technology and Operations line of business to lead Business Controls – which is how MetLife thinks about the processes, risks, and the control environment for Technology, Service and Operations capabilities across the globe.
Hi Paul, it’s great to speak with you. Tell us more about your career and how embracing change has helped you to grow as a professional.
My career is a bit like a commercial on how to embrace change and new opportunities to grow, but in hindsight I’m not sure how intentional that has been! A passion for innovating, utilizing technology as a business enabler, disrupting and transforming have been the common threads. My career navigation has allowed me to stay true to that while sitting in roles or gigs in Technology, HR, Investments, Distribution (Sales & Marketing) and Finance, while also gaining global experiences. For me personally, I live by “If you’re not learning, you’re not growing,” and “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.”
Looking back, what’s the experience in your professional career that has had the biggest impact on where you are today?
There have been many positive ones, but one that was deeply uncomfortable served as a great experience and lesson. I once chose to work for a leader whose values and style was a mismatch with what I needed to grow. The experience taught me a few things - vet or interview your leader. They interview you, make sure you do the same. Second, it helped shape me into being a more inclusive leader. I’ve been blessed to build teams with amazing people who unlock innovation, value, and fun because of the diverse voices at the table. Finally, I learned practicing empathy and gratitude are essential in the workplace.
That’s interesting. Can you describe how the practice of empathy drives success?
Simply put, having and practicing empathy allows us to unlock the power of diversity in our workplace. Our workplace is made up of diverse spaces where people from all walks of life come together with a common purpose and promise of building a more confident future our customers, our employees, our communities and shareholders. Being empathetic allows for real listening and better understanding to take place with our colleagues, new viewpoints to surface, concepts to be ideated on with healthy debate, and solutions and innovations to be realized for our stakeholders.
On a personal level, no one knows what challenges every person faces, and being empathetic to the difficulties our teammates are experiencing is what allows us to show kindness and consideration and provide help. I truly believe the same kindness, consideration, and help comes back to me when I need it.
Thanks, Paul. I know inclusivity is important to you as well. Can you speak to the value of serving underrepresented voices and how diversity is essential to success?
Inclusivity is deeply important to me. First, in my current role my team aims to help identify and reduce risk across technology, servicing customers, operations, and vendor partnerships. Without all voices in our workforce being represented in risk identification, we would miss large and small opportunities to create stronger customer experiences across the globe.
Second, 2020 was a powerful year in which we experienced underrepresented voices bring forward challenges and injustices that often don’t have an equal platform. Amplifying women and caretakers leaving the workforce to support family, Asian communities in the US feeling safe and shining a light on the Black experience across many western countries are all examples of ensuring all voices are heard. MetLife afforded us the opportunity to bring these voices and many others to the forefront not only for that moment but sustaining it as part of our purpose as a company.
Lastly, share a piece of advice you’ve received that has had the greatest impact on your career.
Remember, ‘Someone is always observing you.’ The advice here is no matter what the situation or circumstance is, always try to bring your best self forward. Someone is always watching how you handle moments where you’re at your best and how graceful you may be in moments of great adversity.
Equally as important as what you deliver is how you lead and show up. People junior to you learn from you, and those senior to you observe leadership qualities for roles you may not even realize you’re under consideration for. Bring your best as often as you can.
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