"If we can manage diversity, only good things can happen"

As the leader of a diverse team, Alejandro Cibilich, a 38-year-old engineer and father of two girls, applies his technical training to making changes that improve all kinds of processes.

“A trifecta of engineers”. This is how Alejandro talks about his home team, as he calls it, the one formed with his mother (chemical engineer) and sister (industrial engineer) whenever they get together to eat as a family. In and out of the office, he’s one of those people who’s constantly doing things with others. Before finishing his studies, Alejandro Cibilich, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Planning & Projects, had already worked in large companies, in logistics and management systems positions, and had also gone through the Techint Group recruitment pipeline. However, several years went by before, in 2009, he joined “a Tecpetrol that was not as big as it is today," he says in an interview with Tecpetrol Hoy.

His technical training took him to the Supply Chain area, where he gradually acquired a specific skills-set in the area of process improvement, which has become the lodestone of his career. This is enhanced by his talent for bringing people together and finding out how they work.

Alejandro CibilichSenior Manager for Supply Chain Planning & Projects.

If you had to explain it in a few words, what do you do?

In formal terms, what my team does is try to improve the way others work. But if I reflect on what my work is actually about, then I’d say I’m focused on aligning interests and reaching consensus, because first you need to convince and motivate people to make a change. Understanding my internal customers and bosses, understanding the abilities, preferences and needs of my team, helps to define strategies and priorities, so we can review results effectively and coach the team to prepare for exposure to internal customers. We can assemble an amazing solution, but if nobody uses it, it’s just a mental exercise on a drawing board.

What are the challenges facing Supply Chain in the current context?

We are seeing the fallout from inflation around the world, in a context of post-pandemic reactivation that means that some supplies are becoming scarce, added to the attrition of the war in Ukraine, which has broken so many business rules. Also, in Argentina, there’s the problem of the availability of foreign currency which means that many suppliers can’t deliver services or materials. 

The fine art of leadership

In relation to your team, how would you define your leadership style?

I think I'm transparent and consistent. I try to invest in trust, and be congruous in terms of doing what I say and saying what I do. I try to adapt to the context and the people involved, so, sometimes I’m hierarchical and other times more like a teacher or coach. Today, the team is seven people and we share a lot both in and out of the office. That's really terrific.

How do you share your lives outside the office?

It makes a great difference to work relationships. You get to know people better, because you might have someone who is very uptight at work, but if you take them out of context, you can discover other aspects of them that make it easier to communicate. You start to understand how people think when you talk about politics, personal values, things that you don’t really have a couple of hours to spend on when you’re at work. 

What do you think of the balance between capacity and commitment?

I don't see this as a dichotomy. Changes are made by people for people. And big or swift changes happen thanks to a consolidated team. That's why I dedicate my time and interest to building up my team's skills, confidence, and exposure. I try to identify people's skills and interests, what each one can improve on, and set them new goals as they mature professionally.

Managing diversity

In terms of general diversity, have you noticed any changes over the last few years in the workplace?

When I joined, Tecpetrol was a much smaller company so I’ve seen not only a generational change but also an explosion in size. People’s profiles used to be quite similar in cultural terms, such as their political or religious views, their basic education, the clubs they went to, and so on. Growth ushered in a new cohort of clearly more diverse people.

And in terms of gender diversity, do you see more openness? 

Yes, I’ve noticed significant progress. Today, we have women in senior hierarchical positions where there weren’t any before, such as in Human Resources and Systems. It’s also something we need to continue working on and monitoring. But I also see that we’re changing in tandem with society. I should add that I believe that diversity is not limited to the issue of gender, as we need to pay attention to how attitudes to life and work are changing with younger generations...

It’s said that diversity fosters creativity, do you think that’s true?

Yes, totally, if you know how to manage diversity constructively. If we get together and everyone thinks A, then only A will happen, but if one person says A and the other B and another C, we can get to D, which may be better. Culturally, at Tecpetrol, managing this diversity is a challenge, and needs practice. But only good things can come from doing this.

In relation to the company’s culture, what would you like Tecpetrol to be like in 2025?

We have to pay more attention to what young people are looking for, because otherwise "the good ones", those with potential, will leave. In short, there’s a competitive labor market out there and we have to keep up with what we have to offer. So we need to work more on flexibility, and foster the understanding that going to the office isn’t just about work. Those are the next challenges we face as a company and the future decisions we have to take.

Alejandro Cibilich is 38 years old; he’s been in a relationship for 14 years, and has two girls, aged 3 and 5. In addition to leading his team at Tecpetrol, he is a regular member of many varied social groups, such as his high-school classmates or former fellow musicians from a progressive rock band, as well as current and former Tecpetrol colleagues who continue to get together to share barbecues.

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