An inspiring CEO has strong ambition and optimism. They are receptive and listen to their colleagues and subordinates. These CEOs are always motivated to achieve their goals with efficiency. They are adaptable to every difficult situation and possess nerves of steel.
One such renowned personality who is transforming the business scenario is Claudia Vergueiro Massei, the CEO of Siemens Oman. She is a prominent global leader who leads a team of over 60 people responsible for promotion, sales, and project execution of the complete Siemens portfolio (oil and gas solutions, power generation, electrification, control and automation, smart building technologies and digital offerings) in the Sultanate of Oman.
“Strive to be the best version of yourself, without trying to imitate others or forcefully conforming to everyone’s expectations”
In an interview with Insights Success, Ms. Claudia shares her professional journey, her inspiration, and her perspective about the business. Following are the highlights of the interview:
Describe your professional journey as a business leader.
Originally from Brazil, I commenced my career in strategy consulting, undertaking assignments in France, Morocco, South Africa, and the United States, besides my home country. I subsequently co-founded a SaaS ed-tech startup in Brazil, Eduqo, which I ran before joining Siemens. I developed my passion for education during my college days, when I worked as part-time teacher preparing students for university entrance exams in Brazil.
At Siemens, I held positions in Germany, Denmark, and China for various business fields, including wind power and rail automation, before taking over as CEO of Siemens Oman – where I drive business in power distribution, smart grid, smart buildings, control and automation, and digital solutions for industrial applications.
I am also the co-chair of the Industrial Advisory Board of the College of Engineering of Sultan Qaboos University, a Board Member of Casimiro Montenegro Filho Foundation and I sit on the Advisory Board of Battery Associates and Steering for Greatness Foundation. I was nominated by Forbes as one of the most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East in 2020 and 2021 and by LinkedIn as one of its 2020 Top Voices. I am also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
I hold an Aeronautical Engineering Degree from Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica, an MBA from the Wharton School and an MA in International Studies from the Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania.
What inspires you to wake up every day and keep making a difference in the respective industry you are catering to?
I am committed to enabling the digital transformation in the sultanate and to contributing to its economic development. Since a lot of what Siemens does relates to basic infrastructure and industrial applications, our projects impact millions of lives every single day – which I find particularly inspiring and motivating. In the last three years, we have closed the largest contract in Siemens Oman history (EUR 200 MM) for a single power and water plant with an installed capacity of 326 MW and 36,000 m3of desalinated water for Duqm refinery and petrochemical facilities (including a 25-year service contract).
We have also deployed the first Siemens cybersecurity pilot project in the world in cooperation with Nozomi Networks for an intrusion detection system for a power substation, which prevents blackouts by keeping the substation safe from cyber-attacks. We also have developed a smart microgrid project in cooperation with the College of Engineering of Sultan Qaboos University and The Research Council; microgrids shall play a key role in a future of decentralized energy generation, when renewables contribution will increase, and technology will be required to ensure grid resilience and reliability.
I have also launched the first Talent Program by a multinational company in the sultanate aimed at recruiting and developing Omani fresh graduates.
Brief us about the operations of your company, its mission, vision, and core values.
Siemens is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. From more resource-efficient factories, resilient supply chains, and smarter buildings and grids, to cleaner and more comfortable transportation as well as advanced healthcare, we create technology with purpose adding real value for customers. By combining the real and the digital worlds, we empower our customers to transform their industries and markets, helping them to transform the everyday for billions of people.
Core values: Responsibility, Excellence, Innovation
How has the current pandemic affected your business and what steps have you taken to safeguard your employees while catering to your clients?
We have already had a “distributed operation” among Oman, UAE, Germany, India, and other countries for many years now. Therefore, online collaboration tools for video conferences, shared drives for storing documents on the cloud and many other digital solutions were something we were very much used to. Once we realized in March 2020 that the situation was serious, we closed our offices from one day and started working from home.
Unfortunately, for the field engineers who provide site services not much could change, as they still needed to physically go to customer facilities to “keep the lights on and the world running” – which all of us are very much proud of and thankful for. Siemens equipped them with protective gear and with trainings to increase awareness about the COVID-19 infection process and how to avoid it. As things eased up, we reopened the office (we moved offices during the pandemic) to those who preferred to work from the office, which remains not mandatory to these days as we face the highest numbers of the pandemic ever seen in Oman. Another aspect of the pandemic that has impacted our business has been the oil crisis and the consequent reduction of liquidity in the market.
What creative ways have you employed to make the work environment of your company vibrant?
At Siemens, we have focused a lot on caring for each other and on growth mindset in order to ensure the mental health and the self-development of our team. We have a program in the Middle East called ‘Be Golden’ that focuses on treating yourself and others how you and they deserve to be treated, including mindfulness and appreciation for each other. We also have started a campaign to replace annual performance appraisals by a constant dialog program called ‘Growth Talks’, focusing on clarifying expectations, giving timely recognition, discussing career growth perspectives, and stimulating everyday learning.
At Siemens Oman, more specifically, we have one WhatsApp group with the purpose of checking on each other and sharing personal news. We recognize the need to constantly communicate and stay in touch to guarantee that the group dynamics remain alive.
According to you, what are the essentials of being an apt business leader?
Keep yourself curious enough to keep exploring possibilities and adopt a growth mindset, which is the idea that everything can be learned with a certain amount of effort. Of course, this learning happens much more easily when you step out of your comfort zone to do something new.
Strive to be the best version of yourself, without trying to imitate others or forcefully conforming to everyone’s expectations: it is simply a lot of effort, a lot of energy and a lot of time that you will have to invest if you want to do this. Moreover, the result will not be as good as it can be if you focus all your energy on simply being authentic. Do what you think is right: not what is convenient, or what is expected, nor what is easy. By doing so, you will leave things better than you found them and will certainly be remembered for this.
What would you like to share with the young generation of entrepreneurs who are looking to step into a leadership role in their respective businesses?
When trying to develop something for the long term, patience and perseverance are essential. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, so accept that things do not just happen overnight. The law of compound efforts is very wise: compound efforts can produce spectacular results, if you can maintain discipline, be patient, and take the time to achieve them. However, just as time can benefit you, it can also harm you, so do not forget to always imagine and consider the long-term consequences of each of your actions today.
If you want to build something, do not wait to be ready, just get started – the ideas only get clearer as you work on them. And allow yourself the freedom to fail and learn from every mistake without thinking you have something to lose. Speaking of failure, if you keep increasing your demand level constantly, trying to stretch your limits, inevitably, at some point in your life, you will fail or at least have the perception that you have failed. When that happens, be sure to learn from each mistake and remember that failure does not exist, what exists is just life pushing us in another direction.
Finally, stay true to your values and surround yourself with good people who share them. Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What really matters? Which values are most important to me to make a serious and meaningful contribution to the world?” Each person will have different answers, but I hope they all have something related to ethics, honesty, respect, responsibility, justice, generosity.
You will increasingly find that having good people around is the key to success (whatever your definition of success is) and that identifying these good people will be much more challenging than you expect. However, remember never to compromise on this point!