“If it doesn’t challenge you, you are probably not growing,” says Joanne McInnerney, Vice President of Global Talent Management, Novelis. That’s the mantra she lives by.
We recently interviewed Joanne to learn more about what this mantra means to her and how it has influenced her thinking and leadership at Novelis.
Q: You’ve been with Novelis for nearly six years. What challenges you, excites you and keeps you coming back for more?
A: The thing I love most about Novelis is that there is always something new to learn. We are a young company, but we also have a deep history. Novelis is so technically complex with a strong commitment to sustainability. I love the fact that aluminum is infinitely recyclable. It’s a precious metal and we have the opportunity to take aluminum to places it hasn’t gone yet – and it’s just exciting to be a part of that journey. At the end of the day, I think the most fulfilling thing for me is working with all of the individuals that are making this vision a reality. Seeing people challenge themselves, reach their potential and achieve huge career successes is the biggest highlight for me.
Q: Are there any shared goals that your team has worked on that you are most proud of?
A: Being a global organization, I think we are always working to strike the right balance of being a global company with local nuances. Some of the most exciting times are when we challenge ourselves to find that balance – in our work, in committees and through various initiatives. One of my favorite examples of that from a Global Talent perspective is the Women in Novelis (WiN) initiative. It was started as a grassroots global initiative to recognize and bring together women working at Novelis, but people around the world have really taken ownership of it and locally, we are all doing different things – but with a shared purpose and goal. It’s a great thing to be a part of.
Q: The OnBoard Executive Leadership Honor Roll recently recognized you as being a leader and a role model for your peers. Did you always know that you wanted to be in a leadership role?
A: I have always been interested in leadership and studied it academically, having received my Ph. D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology when I was 25. However, there is a big difference between studying it and living it. In retrospect, I had no idea what leadership was back then!
Over the past 15 years, the most important – and perhaps challenging – thing that I’ve learned is that leadership is really a service role. The best leaders hire people that are smarter than they are in certain areas and then get out of their way and allow them to do what they do best. It’s certainly important to be visible, to set standards, and lead the team’s overall direction. However, once you’re in a leadership role, you should let the people on your teams run with projects and be there to support them and offer guidance. Personally, I really love being part of something bigger and seeing what a team – a company – can do when it bands together on a shared goal.
Q: Is there any advice that you would give to others who ultimately want to achieve a leadership position?
A: Leadership potential is demonstrated by curiosity and initiative. A lot of times that means taking on a challenge you’ve never accomplished before. If you’re being stretched, you’re being challenged and, ultimately, you’re growing. If you don’t exactly know the right answer or how to do something, you’re learning. My advice is to always go after big challenges.