Filipe Mota da Silva
Pressure is no stranger to Filipe Mota de Silva, who went from Head of Business Development to Consulting Leader at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) just before the pandemic hit. Alongside advising clients in the Energy & Resources sector across the UK and Europe, Filipe prioritized his team’s mental health and found ways to humanize the online workplace.
I manage a team of four people, partners at Tata Consulting Services. They have the very intense pressure of work and they all have families. So they have to manage driving results for the company at the same time as providing a sense of security for their family. For me, the prioritization came easily; I’d started in a new role at the beginning of the year so I was highly motivated. This really helped me manage the change and it was incredibly rewarding to lead a team during a time of such uncertainty.
I really gave a lot of attention to mental health this year. I’m a founding member of TCS Minds, which is our mental health network. Every Friday, my team always has an hour break to talk about how things are in our lives. That’s really a focus—to bring in this human element of talking about things that matter, things that companies can disregard, but that actually make us who we are. It’s the same focus now when it comes to providing AI to clients. At first, it was all about fancy tools and connectivity but, after three months at home, the point was: how could we create a workplace that is human? We don’t have to be friends, but we can share human experiences, and that makes us feel more connected and united.
Diversity drives innovation
I’m the chair of our LGBT network at TCS and, from a diversity perspective, I’ve seen amazing things this year. In my organization, the mental health networks and the LGBT networks are the ones winning prizes. They’re the ones creating innovative ideas that are shaking up the way we do things; because we bring a lot of different perspectives to the table. I think companies are now seeing that diversity is critical, it’s essential. If you don’t have diversity, you’re really missing out on business opportunities. Companies are realizing that bringing more different perspectives and depth eventually brings better results.
In my organization, the mental health networks and the LGBT networks are the ones winning prizes.
Strength through adversity
Being LGBT, you never take safety for granted. Because you were often bullied at school, that very basic human need—to be safe—has been shaken in you from a young age and you learn how to maintain your own equilibrium. There are still a lot of hate crimes against LGBT people; in some countries, being LGBT has only recently been legalized so you couldn’t even go to the police if you were attacked. That shapes a person in many different ways, but it also strengthens their mindset. The things that this type of person can bring to the table can be very powerful. I fight every day for everyone to have a voice. It’s really just my mission as part of my job. For me, it’s critical to have this element in whatever I do, whatever my journey within any organization. I hope that, by seeing the way I work, I can inspire others to do the same.
Small goals, big progress
No one was furloughed at my company; we actually grew during lockdown. Everyone was working 10-20% more and after a while it was difficult to maintain a healthy equilibrium. I needed to find balance. I have two daily lists—one is a work to-do list and the other one is a personal must-do list. You have your goals and the actions to get to those goals and you can see how you’re progressing, each week and even each day. Some things are very basic but they make a huge difference, like I do ten push-ups and drink a glass of water as soon as I wake up. Other things are more complex, like shifting my mindset to be more positive. When I go to bed I check off all the items and I can see I’m on track and feel good about that.
I’ve been keeping a journal for years. It’s called ‘The Best Self’ and it focuses on the goals you want to achieve over 13 weeks and breaks them down into actions and progress. It helps me stay focused on what’s important to me, what really matters.
Building each other up
I know it seems small, but staying focused on these personal goals has helped me become a better person, and also to bring other people along on my journey. I coach some people in my company and one of the guys, who is actually transitioning to be a woman, just called and said “Filipe, I got the job that I wanted for 20 years, and you helped me.” I was like, “No, you helped yourself.” This is one of the beautiful parts of working for this organization; I can shape people to also be better themselves—just like other people have done for me. We have this legacy—to bring out the best in each other, to take us all to a better place, and create a real sense of worth in everybody.