Luis Ochoa, vice president of strategic planning at BNY Mellon, joined Cristina Merrill, NextGen Collective’s communications manager, on November 17 to discuss his role at BNY Mellon, what it means to lead with a strategic mindset, how up-and-coming professionals can get involved in their companies and communities, and more. Below are some of the takeaways from the conversation:
Strategic Planning and Relationships
When asked to describe strategic planning, Ochoa first focused on the concept of strategy. Ochoa describes it as an integrated process of decision-making, something that’s done ahead of time to address particular opportunities.
“And tactically what that means, in the day-to-day sense, is partnering with senior leaders to focus on how they think about the goals for the business and the strategies to follow through on those goals,” he said. “So what does that look like from a day-to-day basis? It’s a lot of organizing different exhibits [and] schedules [and] mobilizing different stakeholders, such as in finance, in order to come up with a current-state understanding of the business.”
When describing his role, Ochoa stressed the importance of teamwork, cooperation, listening, and asking questions. Strategic planning, he noted, cannot be done in a vacuum. It’s imperative to engage other stakeholders from different teams. And it’s important to ask good questions throughout the process, such as clarifying the definition of success or the goals of a particular project.
“Sometimes you’ll even interview clients themselves in order to gain a different perspective with respect to how are they thinking about the business,” he said. “What are their moments that matter when it comes to the client journey? And how do we organize the different parts of the firm to address and really optimize those moments that matter?”
Share Your Perspective
When it comes to networking, Ochoa stressed the value of bringing one’s unique perspective. As an example, if you’re going to share an article that you know will be of interest to someone because it pertains to their field, do not simply share the article. Include your own perspective on and key takeaways from what you shared. Ochoa has seen many conversations bloom from this proactiveness, especially between members of the industry and professional associations.
“It’s not so much the summary that is interesting, but the synthesis,” he said. “So think about, what are the implications of what we just read? How does this change the direction for the reader? How can they take this understanding and incorporate it into their own work?” He added, “That’s one way that I would see and recommend in terms of how folks can really connect with others through an online networking environment.”
Keeping a strategic mindset isn’t limited to one’s full-time role. Ochoa is heavily involved in BNY Mellon’s diversity-focused employee business resource group, IMPACT. The culture-oriented group offers leadership workshops, skill-building workshops, and more. He encourages companies to create programs that engage employees—and for individual professionals to get involved.
“My role in IMPACT is really [focused on questions like] how do we engage external partners and create these very curated conversations, meaningful programs, and events that move the needle in terms of creating expertise in the audience, but at the same time, build connectivity between our firm and the community as well,” he said.
Volunteering internally with such groups can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s career. Ochoa noted that there are also a variety of external professional volunteer opportunities. Portals such as Catchafire and the Taproot Foundation as just two examples of resources that list calls for opportunities in helping companies put together strategic plans.
“In that sense, you’re able to not only build connectivity but also build expertise as well,” he said.
However one decides to proceed with volunteering, it must be a mutual fit and align with who you are. Ochoa encourages professionals to think about their experiences to date and how those connect to what they want to work on in the future.
“This is an opportunity to really exercise that capacity you’re looking to build, and of course create a little bit of a value for these different organizations that are looking for that type of expertise,” he said.