“The more I get to discover new things and understand the new world order, the more I sharpen my skills and stay relevant”
Lalaine Rodriguez-Valdes is a leader and “learner by profile.” The seasoned professional has worked across diverse industries in cross-functional roles with deep exposure in people practices. Her private-sector experience teamed with her ability to lead change has been more than 25 years in the making.
In 2016, as vice president and HR business partner at Standard Chartered Bank, she was ready to immerse herself in what she considers “self-disruption” at London Business School (LBS) with the LBS Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy (Sloan).
“I was looking for fresh challenges in life, professionally and personally. I believe that it's never too late to learn. The more I get to discover new things and understand the new world order, the more I sharpen my skills and stay relevant.”
Before moving to London for her studies, Rodriguez-Valdes served on three boards in the Philippines, her native country. Today she continues to serve as independent director of the Rockwell Leisure Club, an organisation with a socio-civic focus.
“There’s a conscience behind what businesses do,” she notes. “I’ve been in the corporate world for more than 25 years, but it’s time to look beyond economics. Yes, we can make money, however, we need to focus our direction on what is good and what is right in the long term.”
Enriched by the Sloan programme, Rodriguez-Valdes feels that board responsibilities offer her a substantial chance to make a social impact. “C-suite leaders execute the direction of the board, but the major, strategic decisions are made at board level. That's where I want to be.”
Rodriguez-Valdes is an advocate for women on boards and believes in the power of diversity and collaboration. She’s confident that by educating and partnering with male counterparts, being a role model and inspiring the next generation of female leaders, she can help move the dial on gender parity.
With just three Sloan programmes in the world to choose from, Rodriguez-Valdes settled on LBS because of its blend of leadership and strategy, and London base. “I wanted to study in Europe to gain a balanced worldview,” she says. Her diverse classmates and their unique perspectives certainly delivered. But, perhaps more unexpected, was Rodriguez-Valdes’ new appreciation of herself – and her purpose.
Led by Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at LBS, the Sloan’s Biography module compelled Rodriguez-Valdes to trace the patterns of her life.
“Imagine a sphere,” she says. “You are in the centre, at the core. See how your life transitions have influenced and changed the lives of others – the next sphere. From there, consider how these choices have impacted the community, society and the world.” By looking outward at the lives of notable leaders, and inward at her past choices, Rodriguez-Valdes found she was able to navigate her future with meaning.
“The entire experience was one of self-discovery,” she says. The journey took her around the world from Silicon Valley (for the Global Business Assignment) to the Baltics (with four other classmates, whom she calls The Baltic Five). “LBS continually topped up what I learnt in London. These adventures all serve as reference points that will contribute to my future and my purpose.”
Rodriguez-Valdes is a firm believer that the world needs more compassion. “We don’t just live for ourselves; we have to care and live for something bigger.” While on the Sloan, Rodriguez-Valdes volunteered her time to life coach younger MBA students. She ran career visioning workshops in collaboration with the LBS Career Centre, sharing her technical people-related expertise and practical “Generation X” life experiences with millennials from other programmes. “It was a reciprocal relationship,” she smiles. “Education works both ways.”
Lalaine Rodriguez-Valdes was a recipient of the Sloan LBS Sloan Women's Scholarship (LBS Fund)