Speaker’s Corner: Featuring Wagner Denuzzo, VP, Head of Capabilities for Future of Work at Prudential Financial

Tell me about Prudential Financial…  

 Prudential Financial is a global company with a strong history of caring for our customers and the communities we serve. We have been transforming our organization to build the capabilities required to fulfill our mission which is “To be a global leader in expanding access to investing, insurance and retirement security.” With over 40K employees worldwide, we are moving with speed to grow our business and maintain our commitment to supporting the development of underserved communities. In 2021 we reached 1B in impact investments in a variety of portfolios helping to develop diverse communities.  

The HR industry is vast and often has its challenges, what are the challenges that most affect your business? Are you engaging in any kind of problem solving?  

Challenges are becoming a “business as usual” concept in most organizations today. When you think about the business, your customers and your workforce driving your success, you are inevitably dealing with multiple challenges and dilemmas that are not often solved by one initiative. In today’s world, the complexity of our challenges are demanding leaders who can hold multiple realities at once with a superior critical thinking capability to address interdependencies and the multiple consequences of business decisions.  

In our industry, world health crisis, socio-political disruptions, and the competitive landscape now comprised of technology driven, customer centric solutions for the financial wellness of customers are defining new opportunities and raising new challenges for companies that have been dominating the markets for so long. We must apply agility, innovation, and technology to leap into the next phase of our industry leading practices.

In HR specifically, we must be analytical in how we understand capabilities, work design, and skills to ensure we are building the future-ready workforce that’s able to maintain high performance while transforming itself. The greatest challenge in HR today is to apply speed to the personalization of the employee experience to maintain a high value relationship between what organizations are offering their people and the accountability employees have in maintaining high value skills. 

The COVID-19 and the pandemic has mandated change in the way we go about business and operations. How has this time influenced you? What are the trends you see within the sector?  

The pandemic exposed some of the conflicts people were already experiencing in silence. Work/life harmonization, how to balance multiple demands and responsibilities without feeling inadequate or not good enough? The pandemic helped us normalize feelings and experiences that we all share.

Whether we are taking care of elderly parents, or children, or a sick spouse or family member, or even taking time to pursue something personal that’s important to you, we are now in a very empathic phase in which employers know that well-being and a holistic approach to the employee experience is a requirement. The shift is in the contract between employees and employers, they both have needs that must be met for a mutually beneficial relationship and high performance.  

What is your biggest objective as a speaker? 

After so many years in the field of human capital and HR development, I strongly believe in our courage to challenge ourselves to reinvent HR. My biggest objective in speaking in panels is to be a productive disruptor and bring to the surface the realities we try to navigate and avoid in these settings.

My goal is to help all of us feel that not being successful motivates us to do something different and achieve new outcomes. Diversity, equity, and inclusion, for example, is the perfect example of failed strategy over the last 10 years.

Training people on unconscious biases does not reach their subconscious biased decisions, instead, we should accept that awareness is not success, and that changing behaviors, and acting with integrity in our values and approaches to developing the workplace will demand much more than programs and beautifully crafted messages on our websites. 

Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at the Hacking HR 2022?  

My key point was about not repeating mistakes of the past by replicating models of training and campaigns that don’t reach the depth necessary for people to be moved and influenced. Deeper conversations and immersive experiences are more powerful than communication campaigns. I am also sharing my point of view in which we must work within the systems we created in organizations. DEI must be incorporated in everything we do, from forming cross functional teams to solving for customer needs. Our organizations must mirror the communities we are serving. 

As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going? 

I have a strong conviction in the impact of leaders across the organization. The workforce of the future will be the outcome of what we do today. To me, knowing that I can support someone’s dream today, makes me energized for the journey ahead. I truly believe that we must allow all people to share their best skills and be able to apply their knowledge to the fullest. Organizations have the responsibility to open the doors for that to happen, and HR must reinvent itself to personalize the employee journey so each individual can grow and achieve their goals. 

In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say were the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer?  

I tend to fully support virtual events as they provide an equitable opportunity for all to access and experience new connections and learnings that come out of these events. The importance of real time comments and the access these events offer can’t be overestimated. There is real energy that comes from real time dialogue and feedback. But in person events offer a deeper connection between participants and presenters which is an amazing dynamic that builds as we come together as a community of learners and explorers. Today, we need both. Fast access to amazing people online and very thoughtful gatherings that make the experience memorable. 

What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return? 

 In person events are beginning to emerge, but most importantly is the idea that we need to reinvent in person conferences as experiences that can be more intentional and immersive. Having participants more involved in the experiences so they become co-creators and not just audiences….I am excited about the possibility of creating new ways of being together. 

In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks?  

It is always risky to make predictions, but it is likely that we will observe some safety and health precautions such as ventilation, buffet offerings, and other potentially anxiety producing arrangements. People will need to feel confident that their events are not presenting any risks to their health and that’s going to take great planning.  

Eventible.com is a review platform specially catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision? 

I don’t know if speaker reviews will be much different from what we see online prior to any event, but if you focus on thought provoking programming with an eye into the future, reviews then will help us contextualize the innovation that’s being shared with everyone. 

Finally, do you have a favourite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know. 

I am Brazilian so I can’t live without a great Caipirinha…. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? 

We are entering a great era of disruption and opportunity to reinvent ourselves, our businesses and our workforce. We must take it as a valuable moment in history that’s allowing us to co-create something new and meaningful. Be curious and courageous! 

To view the event on Eventible, click here. To write a review, click here.

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