7 Questions with Fernando Delgado Garcia
Name: Fernando Delgado Garcia
Current title: Professor · Head of Investments
Current organisation: Universidad Autónoma Madrid · Bank (in process of incorporation)
Fernando Delgado is a recognised investor, with a 17-years track record as an Executive in an Ibex35 bank, Banco Popular, and in Banco Santander after they merged. Entrepreneur and strategist, thinking out of the box. A visionary. Specialist in socially responsible investing, committed with a humanistic approach. Masters' professor in Finance. He has been recently appointed as the Head of Investments of a new bank which is about to be launched.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Large companies tend to lack flexibility in adapting to changing market conditions, often imposing bureaucracy on well-intentioned workers. Meanwhile, the market experiences disruption at a scale never seen before. My proposition to solve the lack of flexibility and to align with the disruption, is to implement Agile and Design Thinking working methods, invest in exponential technologies, and finally, to adopt the ESG paradigm.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had to learn several lessons which led me through the leadership path into becoming an executive. The foremost was committing to projects I believe in, and that allow me to develop as a professional and as a human being. The same applies for all members of my team, who need to share a common vision in the project and understand the objectives along the way for that vision to materialize in the organization. This is how working becomes a win-win process for the company and for my team. My second strong suit developed throughout the years and has been putting order where there was none; when time and resources are limited, getting rid of what is not important is crucial. In other words, creating order to become effective and efficient.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Recent changes in post-pandemic workplace culture have surprisingly brought more balance into my life; balance between family and work, in spirituality, and in psychological and physical health. Since teleworking has become the new normal, I have found myself able to better organize work and private time. As a 'morning' type of person I wake up at 6am, exercise, and spend time with our three kids until leaving them in a kindergarten close to our place. Our morning family routine is often the highlight of my day. I have a comfortable office at home where I spend a fair share of my day, especially since most of my meetings have been moved to online video conferencing. Every day is different, yet keeping a close eye on the markets is a constant part of my workday. I read, study, analyse potential investments; it is a habit rooted back in the years when I worked as a trader. I try to finish by 7pm to help out again with the kids until they fall asleep. After that we have dinner and some quality time with my wife, catching up with day’s events and relaxing. At the end of the day, whenever I can, I take the dog out for a long walk.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Discovering the potential and promoting abilities of every member of my team, even when the road may seem too rocky for them at the beginning, and challenges are overwhelming. I require hard work from my team members, but I am also committed to developing their professional excellence. I consider it my personal responsibility to devote time and attention to foster team’s growth. What may seem at first glance an unproductive effort, turns out to yield great returns in the long run, in terms of motivation and commitment of the team.
5. What's one book 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?
Don Quixote. A peculiar yet extraordinary idealistic man. The character exemplifies unbent vision, integrity, and determination. He shows great capacity to engage people through generating excitement and valuing them. Many lessons can be learnt regarding leadership from this emblematic and classic character. Along my career path I have aspired to apply Quixote’s determination in the pursuit of my objectives.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
By supporting internal leaders, especially when they fail. The only ones who do not make mistakes are those, who neither take any responsibility upon their shoulders. Coherence is a key factor in successful leadership. Delegating responsibility to others implies accepting the fact that he or she will fail at some point, and it is a matter of coherence to provide support when that happens. To the contrary, corporate culture condemning mistakes, makes people act out of fear, which impedes their proactivity and empowerment.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was once put in charge of a team whose members would not speak out, but rather act intending to flatter the boss. It was already mid-term; financial results were poor, while most targets were almost impossible to reach at that point. I began promoting those within my team who challenged my ideas by proposing alternative courses of action, and little by little, the rest of the team caught up with the new dynamic. It only took a few months to change the team’s morale; the team members felt heard and valued for their initiative and hard work. At the end of the term, we delivered the targets.