LinkedIn’s Olivier Legrand Shares His Mantra on Leading Through Learning
We’re excited to announce that Olivier Legrand, Managing Director for LinkedIn Asia Pacific, has partnered with AIB as an Industry Guest Lecturer. With over a decade of experience in leadership, marketing and business development, he will be enriching AIB’s Leadership and Marketing Management subjects through his practical insights and knowledge across a range of industries.
Since joining LinkedIn in early 2012, Olivier’s career has grown from strength to strength – and now he leads the fast-growing APAC region with more than 1,000 employees, serving more than 118 million members. His leadership journey began in Paris, where he earned his Master’s degree from the Paris Graduate School of Management, and served as Marketing Director for Cortal Consors, an online brokerage that is part of BNP Paribas. He then re-located to Hong Kong and founded and lead Creasia Marketing House, a marketing and digital production agency. His next big role was with Dow Jones as the General Manager (Asia) at The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, driving marketing and advertising initiatives across both print and online platforms.
Beyond his day job, Olivier also contributed back to the industry as an elected Chairperson for the Interactive Advertising Bureau Southeast Asia (IABSEAsia) Singapore Chapter in February 2014 and February 2015, after serving as Vice Chair in 2013.
Below he shares three key learnings that have helped him succeed in his leadership journey.
Embracing opportunities for learning
Olivier believes that anyone can be a great leader, as long as they are willing to learn. Central to his leadership philosophy is hiring the best talent available, and nurturing them to inspire. “My primary strategy is to hire and surround myself with great people,” he shares. To fully engage talent with high potentials, Olivier adopts empowerment and delegation strategies in his leadership approach so that staff can be instrumental in driving success. That includes trust in their ability to deal with challenges, but also ongoing investment in their skills.
At LinkedIn, they invest heavily in their people from the ground up. They give people training in product delivery, spend a lot of time on soft skills for their managers, and aim to empower staff so they can keep upskilling themselves. They also conduct extensive talent reviews twice a year that are aimed at identifying top talent. Once identified, the next step is to provide those people with the training and mentor opportunities to develop their strengths. Mentorship is big: at LinkedIn, all senior managers mentor close to ten people each.
Hiring the right staff, though, does not come without its challenges. Olivier admits, “The norm is that you tend to like people that are like you, people who think like you and operate like you, but that’s a very risky way to run a business,” explains Olivier, who makes an effort to confront his own unconscious biases. He commits to hiring with diversity at the forefront of his mind, not just as it applies to gender or cultural differences, but also what he terms diversity in thoughts. That strategy pays off in wider contributions to the business, but also makes his job as a leader more challenging.
With such a passion for providing training and mentorship to the talents around him, it’s no surprise that Olivier also makes his own learning a priority. “Learning is the best way to discover your next challenge, stay relevant, and bring value to the organisation you are in,” he says.
Adapting to change
As a leader, Olivier considers one of his most important responsibilities to be driving and implementing change. “The reality is the world is changing around us – technology is changing and customer behaviours are changing. Assuming that your business is going to be static is kind of crazy to me,” he says. Referring back to his previous positions in banking and publishing, he points out that longstanding industries which are wedded to bricks and mortar had no choice but to evolve with digital technologies – vital changes that Olivier helped to drive in his previous roles in banking and publishing.
One of the more obvious changes for Olivier, and for LinkedIn as a whole, is the way in which marketing has shifted its focus over the years. Technology gives consumers direct access to brands across a number of channels, which means the decisions are mostly made before the consumer even talks to the company. With a background in marketing, Olivier’s well prepared to rise to the challenge of change. He draws on his leadership strengths, which he recounts as compassion, emotional intelligence and a willingness to put himself in the shoes of others, to meet consumers where they are.
Stating a clear vision and purpose
LinkedIn, Olivier says, helps people in four core areas – hiring, marketing, sales and training. In each case, the company challenges the way things have been done in the past. That includes the idea of the ‘passive candidate’: encouraging companies to think of talent as including people who aren’t actively looking for a new job. With some 500 million people on the network who are all showcasing their professional development, employers have the world’s largest database of talent at their fingertips.
Likewise, leveraging relationships between companies and influencers, or B2B businesses and decision makers is part of what LinkedIn does best. By encouraging connections, companies have an ‘in’ where they would otherwise be cold calling, giving them a leg up in marketing and sales.
Olivier believes strongly that it is important for leaders to state a clear vision and articulate that throughout the organisation consistently.
Get to know AIB’s Industry Partners and our team of exceptional Industry Guest Lecturers here.