"Do what you love and do it often":
A Conversation with Enrique Velez

GLOBIS Alumni (2014-2016) Enrique Alejandro Velez passed away on March 20, 2017. We publish this article in expression of our deepest condolences. This is from an interview conducted shortly before he passed by his colleague, GLOBIS Faculty Cristian Vlad, about Enrique's life after GLOBIS. A class leader, Academic Excellence Award winner and graduation speaker, he was an inspiration to his classmates and the greater GLOBIS Community. He will be missed.

A recent GLOBIS MBA graduate and the current Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Digital Communications at JCE Japan Creative Enterprise, Enrique Velez has been living, working and inspiring leaders in Japan through their processes of business innovation and digital transformation. A passionate believer in technology, people and art, Enrique uses both logic and emotion in helping his clients believe in their own selves, their future products and services as well as the value they create for the society.

CV: Enrique, can you tell us how you became interested in Communications?

EV: Thank you for asking, Cris. As a matter of fact, I have always been interested in Communications, maybe without really knowing it at times. I come from the financial industry, where everyone believes in numbers, data and logic. I used to be a strong believer in all these things myself and I still am, to a certain extent. I have realized, though, during the time I have spent in Japan, that numbers, data and logic are not always enough when trying to motivate people, to help them through difficulties and change. People are emotional creatures, extremely sensitive, visual and reactive to their own perceptions. They understand what there are told, but they only trust what they feel on their own. Therefore, I have learnt that, when you try to help people through change and growth, just showing them the numbers is far from enough. Organizations need to learn how to create perceptions. Customer perceptions. Employee perceptions. Just talking about the light at the end of the tunnel is far from being enough. We need to help people realize what there really is at the end of the tunnel. Help them feel the earth. Help them smell the air. Help them see the view from the other side. Then, and only then, people will believe in change. They will believe in their own selves and they will want to learn, to change and to grow. To me, Communications is much more than mere Public Relations or Employee Engagement. It is art. It is the dexterity that all successful people and organizations need to master in order to make significant progress.

CV: So why digital?...

EV: It doesn’t have to be digital only, of course, but digital is where the world is going. Let me ask you one simple question: how many hours a day do you spend on-line, browsing the web or interacting on SNS, and how many hours do you spend watching TV? Reading newspapers?...

CV: That’s really a good point…

EV: I am not trying to say that digital media is everything. What I am saying is that our media is diversifying so rapidly and, obviously, the digital element is playing an increasing role in our lives. Businesses oblivious of this reality end up coming short of meaningful customer engagement and they lose business by the minute. Especially in Japan, the country where so much technology is invented, manufactured and sold, so many corporates seem to come short of meaningful customer engagement. It’s a paradoxical, isn’t it?... Traditionally, media has been seen as an opportunity to communicate “onto” the customers. Today, successful communications are all about integrating those customers, bringing in their perspective into the process of innovation, product and service development, nurturing eco-systems of co-creation and idea embodiment.

CV: I can feel your passion. Can you tell a bit about where your main struggle is when trying to convince people and organizations about the importance of a digital transformation?

EV: Cris, I don’t even know where to begin. Digital Transformation is on everybody’s lips these days. It is the new slogan in town. Many people, though, do not understand what it really is, what it really means to their clients and the impact it has on their business. For me, personally, the real struggle begins when I try to help businesses understand that it is not enough to apply digital lipstick to their on-going strategy and move on with business as usual. Sometimes, getting financial commitment and getting emotional buy-in are two separate issues. It takes two different mindsets to speak to both sides of the brain. It takes a lot of commitment to help clients develop the mental bandwidth needed for thinking differently and for nurturing new emotions. I keep asking my clients, “Do you know what you love to do?” and then I ask, “Do you know what your customers love to do?” I am not talking logic here. I am talking love. Life is nothing without it and so is business.

CV: That sounds like a lot of patience…

EV: It certainly is. Before coming to Japan, I used to think of myself as a very considerate and patient person. Japan has taught me new dimensions of consideration and patience, I must confess.

CV: What exactly did so?...

EV: Everyday life. My experience as a student at GLOBIS. My interaction with clients at JCE. Many of my friends tell me that I have changed over these past years, that I have become a much better listener, more introspective and considerate. I too feel that I have changed. I am now working across the border with clients and partners in Romania, Croatia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Russia and Thailand. Places I always thought I would visit on a holiday rather than for business reasons. Every time in interact with people from those countries, I feel that I am reminded that there is always a third and a fourth layer to reality, to knowledge and to perception. We are all tempted to believe that the world we know is the world everyone knows and that our own values are shared by people, customers and employees, all across the globe. The illusion created by our rapidly digitalized media is extremely tempting and convenient, but the reality is so much more complex. This is where truly successful communicators, I believe, step in to bridge those realities and create new and modern platforms for people to engage and co-create.

CV: Enrique, your passion is overwhelming. Where do you get your motivation, may I ask?...   

EV: The world is full of kindness and this drives me to be the best for the world. I believe that I have the passion to get the most out of my life and I am always determined and focused to develop people, to help them grow as a coach and as a leader. I always try to engage people, making them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, resulting in a sense of teamwork and community in all of the organizations and the projects I am involved in. I have worked with amazing people in Toronto, Vancouver, and now Tokyo, Bucharest, Zagreb, Cluj, Chicago and Bangkok. I draw my energy from the people I work with and I strive to give as much as I get back in return. I have learned to go beyond numbers and to give meaning to life. I trust the smiles of the faces of our happy customers. I trust their laughter and their handshakes. It is a lengthy process and a hard stage to reach, but every single moment of the journey is extremely precious.  There is a new piece of learning in every interaction and I treasure every step of the way. 

CV: One last question: from your experience working in Japan, what would you advise GLOBIS students and young entrepreneurs from around the world?

EV: Frankly speaking, what I would like to advise others is what I would say to my own self.

Life is short so do what you love and do it often. Start doing things you love. If you still don't know what you love, then don't settle. Just keep trying, living and doing. You will know your mission when it comes along. But you will never find it if you settle. Furthermore, please remember that teams win and individuals don’t. Put yourself out there and be part of awesome teams. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating. Live your dream, and wear your passion. This is part of my own mission statement and I truly believe in every single word.

Enrique has been sought out as a project leader, a communication coach, a corporate strategy adviser, to accelerate sustainable business growth and a happy productive workforce. He develops Communication and Cultural Intelligence in organizations.

Enrique is a Senior Partner at JCE Japan Creative Enterprise, a young and dynamic agency which helps corporate teams transform their business and manage their talent. As an integral member of organizational development, Enrique changes mindsets to be open to cultural and gender diversity as well as to embrace technology as a tool to evolve communication.

Prior to his current role, Enrique was department head at ACT Systems, where he led a team of people development professionals to create complete corporate training and talent development programs for numerous companies.

Enrique completed his MBA from the Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University, received certification from the Canadian Securities Institute, and a Specialized Honours Economics & Business Degree from York University in Toronto, Canada. Before moving to Japan in 2003, Enrique worked in commercial and private banking at HSBC’s country HQ in Vancouver, Canada.

A seasoned veteran of business transformation, organizational development and innovation initiatives, both in terms of product and organizational innovation, Cristian Vlad is the President and CEO of JCE Japan Creative Enterprise, a young and dynamic agency which helps corporate teams transform their business and manage their talent. Cristian has been advising global clients on the role of diversity, human capital, creativity and corporate communications as strategic business drivers to foster innovation and stimulate business growth. He has been recognized by both multinational corporations and emerging enterprises as a thought leader in the areas of business strategy, relationship management, organizational development and architecture, leadership, social media, collaborative environments, people operations, transformation and business model innovation. In parallel, Cristian is an IBM Global Business Services consultant, advising corporate clients on Talent and Organizational Transformation projects.

Prior to his current role, Cristian was project manager at Toyota Motor Corporation, where he led a team of advanced product development professionals within the Corporate Value Creation Department. He also consulted on numerous organizational changes, corporate rebranding and transformation projects globally, in a wide rage of industries. Cristian holds an MA in International Relations from Hirosaki University and a dual BA in Communications and Foreign Language Education from the University of Bucharest.

Cristian currently resides in Fukuoka, Hong Kong and San Francisco.

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