"Innovation requires agile, open leadership and teams, and Santander Open Academy have provided me with the necessary tools to implement that”. - Rocío Ortiz

20/08/2021 | Rocío Ortiz

Rocío Ortiz is a Commercial Engineer, a graduate of Business Intelligence specialising in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems. She currently works as R+D manager for the UC Innovation Centre at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, where her main responsibility is to help organisations identify opportunities to create and capture value in their respective sectors.  

In this respect, Rocío believes that one of the main gaps preventing companies from effectively and repeatedly accessing business opportunities is the lack of a clear strategy and organisational culture focussed on innovation. Thus, in her day-to-day work, she is in charge of developing new products, services or business models based on digital transformation and advanced human capital, linking scientific and academic work to the productive sector, both public and private. 

One the one hand, with regards to the digital transformation, Rocío notes that technology has disrupted the behaviour patterns of users and clients, as well as companies and major organisations. This presents institutions with the challenge of having to deal with continual changes in highly uncertain situations to secure new business opportunities.

On the other hand, Rocío has also noticed that the technical skills of professionals play a fundamental role in the success of many projects. She admits this involves developing the habit of lifelong learning, a goal she herself was able to achieve by participating in one of the Santander Open Academy, in collaboration with Esade.

After participating in the Santander Scholarship, Rocío developed the skills a leader needs to become an agent of change within their organisation, understanding what types of challenges they face and which methodology matches the company's organisational culture best.

"Innovation is a process that has to be managed systematically, one which requires agile leadership and teams that are open to change."

Rocío Ortiz

Leveraging change through organisational culture

While technology and technical skills play a fundamental role in the success of many projects, one of the main challenges she has detected in organisations, effectively and systematically blocking them from business opportunities, is the lack of a clear strategy and good management of the organisational culture.

As Rocío notes, technological advances in recent years have not only given access to products and services globally, which have in turn allowed us to improve our quality of life, but they have also shaken up routines and processes, for people as well as public and private organisations around the world. 

This feverish pace of constant evolution -as Rocío can attest to in her daily work- poses significant challenges for organisations, above all when it comes to creating new processes that allow them to tackle changes in a highly volatile environment. It is at this stage where good management of the organisational culture in innovation processes takes a leading role to identify patterns of change and react to valuable opportunities that arise in increasingly tight time frames.

“Where previously there were leaderships and teams focused only on implementation, nowadays, leaders and teams also need to be prepared to explore new opportunities and have the necessary resilience to push behavioural changes in staff teams, in an agile way.”

Rocío Ortiz

Rocío is aware that companies face crucial challenges to create ever more personalised value offers for their consumers and customers. To that effect, organisations should not only consider their preferences and life cycle, but also their behaviour and interactions over multiple channels. 

"This is a great opportunity to create spaces for omnichannel experiences and an excellent space for e-commerce models -in the context of digital transformation for example- which have proven fundamental to many businesses that have had to reinvent themselves.”

Rocío Ortiz

However, given her career, she believes there is a fundamental element associated with the development of a 'customer-focused' organisational culture, which involves recognising the key interactions and value catalysts of people above and beyond the product or service itself. Thus, Rocío explains that there are tools that can help organisations to build customer value maps, such as 'customer journeys', which help them to clearly define the value spaces they need to create for their customers.

According to Rocío, there is another challenge for the leaders and professionals of today to tackle, this one relating to managing the implementation of strategies and their associated projects, i.e., implementing important changes such as a corporate innovation strategy, because this implies redrafting internal processes and reimagining employees' interactions with their jobs, something that can generate culture shock and significant friction.  

“This tends to always generate tensions that must be managed effectively and that's where change management models come in very handy''.

Rocío Ortiz

That is why Rocío always recommends rolling out innovation processes which in turn constitute an organisational culture with safe spaces to experiment with organising and generating collaborative working techniques. This will allow ideas to be detected and opportunities to be tested effectively and efficiently. Moreover, in this regard, she stresses that there are several agile project management methods for portfolio management, such as the Agile, Lean and Scrum techniques, as well as tools such as Kanban, which enable the effective monitoring of team and portfolio progress.

Ongoing training as a vehicle for innovation

In addition to these environments that foster innovation within companies, organisational culture also needs, in Rocío’s opinion, tools that enable professionals to pinpoint value opportunities and make informed decisions. Hence, training human capital at the individual level is also vital to achieving this urgent corporate disruption.   

This was the driver behind Rocío's decision to participate in one of the Santander Open Academy, spearheaded by Banco Santander, together with Esade, a world-leading organisation in the field of Professional Development. On this course, Rocío gained a solid introduction to the process of change management, customer-centric culture development and agile frameworks, depending on the size and maturity of the company.

"Access to Santander Open Academy has provided significant further training for my career and has given me access to excellent programmes at internationally prestigious centres of learning”.

Rocío Ortiz

Specifically, throughout her experience with the scholarship, she had the opportunity to learn about the type of projects carried out by professionals in different industries: a panoramic view always helps to clarify the kind of synergies that can be generated in the ecosystem. But above all, she highlights the self-paced learning method, which offers the flexibility to combine the scholarships with daily work, and the acquisition of knowledge with a direct application.

''Given my role is fundamentally that of articulating opportunities between university and industry, professionally speaking, Santander Open Academy have been a boon in terms of updating my knowledge of digital transformation methods and innovation, a tool I can apply directly in my daily work, one which also has an impact on the companies, entrepreneurs, academics and students I work with.”

Rocío Ortiz

As Rocío well knows, training to become a good leader, especially in the field of innovation, fundamentally requires you to stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge and trends. That is why entities like Banco Santander offer opportunities for professionals to continue their training. 

On this occasion, Banco Santander, together with Esade, is spearheading Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade, aimed at adults who want to make a leap in their career by developing their soft skills, key to enhancing employability in a work environment characterised by digital transformation and a demand for new transversal skills. 

Participants have a choice between seven online modules -lasting two weeks each and using a 'learning by doing' methodology- which aim to develop the most in-demand transversal skills on the current job market: leadership, creativity, personal productivity, influence and emotional intelligence, negotiating, communications, and complex problem solving and decision making.  What is more, once you have completed the module, you will receive an Esade certificate accrediting the knowledge acquired. 


Are you over 18 and, like Rocío, would like to develop the fundamental skills to boost your personal and professional development? Register for Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade and boost your transversal skills to add value to your career. Make the most of this opportunity! 

(At the moment the Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade has reached its end, but we encourage you to take a look at the Santander Open Academy to find the training that best suits you and give a boost to your professional career. Seize the chance to develop your knowledge and skills!)

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Rocío Ortiz, R+D manager for the UC Innovation Centre at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

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