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7 Questions with Carlos Serra
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7 Questions with Carlos Serra
Name: Carlos Serra
Current title: Head of Project Management
Current organisation: The Church of England
Carlos Serra has been working in project management since 1999 across a variety of market sectors, countries and roles. It included managing projects and programmes, implementing and leading PMO functions and leading teams of Project Managers. On the academic side, he has been a researcher, an international speaker, a trainer and a guest lecturer for MBA and MSc programmes, has written books and articles, has won awards and has been a reviewer for academic journals. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he used to play Samba as a hobby. He's been living in London, UK for the last ten years.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Segregate work from personal life. Since I do what I believe in, I am a lot more committed to my duties than I would be in another job. I have always been very committed to work, but it feels harder now to differentiate professional goals from personal goals.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had worked for commercial and academic organisations for more than 18 years in a few countries and across a few market sectors. I was leading the global project management function of a manufacturing group, when I saw the advertisement of a Head of Project Support Office role that would be responsible for implementing a formal approach for project management within the Church. It was the perfect opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience in giving back to society at the same time that I would be working for a Christian institution. I had never imagined that I might end up working for a Church, but it felt like a blessing.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am not a morning person. Every day, my brain starts working after having a cup of black coffee. I walk to the office and I normally make my prayer on my way. It unusual - I know, but it helps me to get set for the day. At the office, I have too many meetings and sometimes I even forgot to have lunch. At the end of the day, I review my calendar and prepare for the next day. In the evening, I go to the gym, then I have dinner, watch the news, and finally go to bed.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
It may sound cliché but 'The Servant 'from James C Hunter made me reflect about how we should treat people and how real leadership should be. I used to be very bossy but then I learned that real leadership is about taking people with you on the journey. High performance is achieved when people are doing what they believe is the right thing. We need to win people's hearts first if we want them to focus their minds on the job. So, everything starts with service. We need to give first, so that people can give back for good.
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Put yourself in the other people's shoes. Demonstrate interest. Be willing to understand, accept, and support. The successful leader understands what is in people's heads, including their wants, their needs, their fears, their hopes... By doing that well, we can connect more easily with their hearts and minds. We can help them, so that they can help us. It's a win-win.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
By living the good and right values. Respect, integrity, inclusion, trust. And certainly love. Christian love for others.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
It's not an actual story, but more like an experience or a perception. It feels like I never worked with a so kind and respectful group people in my lifetime. Obviously, work is many times quite stressful as it is in any other job. But, my work colleagues are in general very nice. I find this interesting because many of my colleagues are not of Christian faith, so the faith is probably not the reason. It might be related to the overall purpose of our work. This is a perception that I heard from other colleagues too, so it's probably true. This is a very good feeling and it makes the Church a very good environment to work in.