Boosting Employee Productivity With a Digital Toolkit

with Tope Sadiku, former Global Head of Digital Employee Experience at the Kraft Heinz Company

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Tope Sadiku

Episode 34

”Technology is like a part of the medical toolkit. I used to call technology my medicine. I had access to a number of different tools and solutions [to] address the symptoms and even the root cause.”

Tope Sadiku is the former Global Head of Digital Employee Experience at The Kraft Heinz Company, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world with $25 billion in global sales. Tope has recently moved into her new role as the Strategic Planning Lead, Transformation, Agile and Digital Revolution at Kraft Heinz where her focus is to increase employee productivity and creativity through the use of technology. And on this episode, Tope is describing her work and research on how we move, achieve objectives, connect, and collaborate between physical and virtual spaces.

”When it comes to transformation, there’s a difference between disruption and destruction. There is some level of disruption and sometimes we can get very excited to the point of destruction. Knowing where that line is very, very important.”

Listen in to hear

  • How Tope approaches experimenting with new digital tools
  • Ideas on creating local nuances in the digital experience
  • What it means to create an omnipresent digital experience

”You can give people a lot of money, a great title. You can give them everything that you might think would motivate them on the surface. But nothing beats respect.“


Tope Sadiku

Tope Sadiku

Fmr Global Head of Digital Employee Experience | The Kraft Heinz Company

Tope Sadiku is Strategic Planning Lead, Transformation, Agile and Digital Revolution at Kraft Heinz and their former Global Head of Digital Employee Experience. She has an eclectic background in finance, economics, psychology, and human-centric design. She has partnered with multiple Fortune 200 organizations, integrating her academic knowledge to drive profitability in a more responsible and conscientious manner. Recently relocating from London to Chicago, Tope has served as Global Head of Employee Digital Experience at Kraft Heinz for the past four years. 

At Kraft Heinz, Tope’s focus is to increase employee productivity and creativity through the use of technology. Tope is a thought leader on the topic of the future of work and life. Her work actively contributes to research on how we move, achieve objectives, connect, and collaborate between physical and virtual spaces. She also serves as a future of work specialist for the World Economic Forum, as well as a board member for the Institute of Work and Economy, exploring how societies and economies will achieve the promise of work and life.

Episode Transcript

Narrator: Being a leader means taking charge when problems arise, and that can happen daily. When it does, leaders have to get creative with solutions, and how they work together with their employees. Today we’re talking with Tope Sadiku about how to work hand-in-hand with employees to solve problems effectively and efficiently. She often compares a tech leader to a doctor, and employees to patients. Like a doctor, a leader has to reach into their toolkit to address an issue and find an answer. 

Tope Sadiku: Technology is like a part of like the medical toolkit. In fact, I used to call technology like my medicine. I had this plethora of access to a number of different tools and solutions and based on maybe where my patient or my client was at that moment in their life, based on that we would use a different medical intervention. 

Narrator: Tope Sadiku is the former Global Head of Digital Employee Experience at Kraft Heinz, having moved into a new role in the company as Strategic Planning Lead for Strategy, Transformation, Agile and Digital Revolution. Kraft Heinz is one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, and their brands are global, with products produced and marketed in over 40 countries. In her role, Tope focuses on increasing productivity and creativity through the use of technology. And she’s a thought leader on the future of work and life. Today, she’ll describe her work and research on how we move, achieve objectives, connect, and collaborate between physical and virtual spaces. 

On Cruising Altitude, we talk about employee experience lessons from leaders at companies with over 30k employees. A lot like reaching Cruising Altitude at 30k feet, things look a little different when you’re managing 30,000 people. On this podcast, we bring you insights from the leaders who inhabit that rarefied air. Today’s episode features an interview with Tope Sadiku. But first, let’s hear a word from our sponsor.

Tope Sadiku:I would really describe myself as a corporate doctor. So, you know, like patient walks into my office or my clinic. Um, and like any good doctor, I have a relationship with this patient. I’m like the general practitioner.

Narrator:  Let’s take a closer look at how Tope fosters that relationship between employees and company, or what she calls “the patient and doctor.”

Tope Sadiku: the patient might say like, doctor, my knee hurts and actually my knee hurts and you need to operate and for those who work in businesses, how many times does someone like come into your practice and say, I have this problem. You need to solution it in this exact way. And like, you know, we have to fight the edge to be like, That’s not your expertise. It is mine. I think we have to like die to the ego. And actually what I enjoyed about my last job was that it really encouraged me to sit, pause, reflect, think, listen, and observe. And actually maybe in this case, I would ask the patient to do, like, can you tell me how long it’s been hurting? Can you tell me when the pain comes? How does it manifest in your body. Where do you, where does it start? Where does it end? Um, are there any triggers that you know about? If possible, can you maybe do some physical steps and can I just watch you in your natural environment and listen to the word you use to describe this pain? 

Narrator: So, open communication is important to Tope. She likes to ask questions to get to the bottom of pain points. But she has some other tips, too.

Tope Sadiku: and actually also the words you don’t use as well. Cause I think sometimes the emission of information is just as powerful as the addition. And actually maybe through that analysis or that, um, consultation, I might say, you know what patient, it’s actually not your knee. It’s actually like the place, and give your foot. And I feel like if we correct the place and give you a foot through physio, you are gonna be out of this pain. And you know, you’ve taken someone, you’ve taken someone from somewhere where they’ve said,. Rip it out and put something new in to a situation where it’s physio, you’re using like what they have today and you’re just kind of doing it in a new way and actually helping them to strengthen the muscles and even maybe strengthen the bones. And that’s really what I thought of my last role. So employee digital experience. How do we enable our employees to achieve the promise of life? The promise of work with the use of technology. How do we remove friction and enable flow? Um, what are the modes of work and, and really what does technology, like, what’s the, um, role of technology in those moods and as a good doctor should do, when they don’t lead, you know, they, it’s not like the patient says, doctor, my finger’s bleeding. And the doctor’s like, Hey, take Tylenol. You know, you don’t lead with the medication, actually, you lead with the. The, the addressing of the symptoms and actually the addressing, uh, the addressing of the root cause. Um, and actually you, you, technology is like a part of like the medical toolkit. In fact, I used to call technology like my medicine. I had this plethora of access to a number of different tools and solutions and based on maybe where my, my patient or my client was at that moment in their life. Um, and you can really think about an employee’s journey is like a life based on that we would use a different medical intervention.

Narrator: That’s what Tope did in her last role, and she loved it. She got to remove friction for her employees. 

Tope Sadiku: Actually quite long, but In terms of how our employees worked, enabled, or at least endeavor to enable, enable flow, and find situations where our employees can kind of feel like they bring their holistic self to work. I remember using this language, especially when it came to looking at what is the future of our office physical space and even looking at a virtual space and, and I really love that project because it was so philosophical in a way, but actually very practical and tangible. Anyway, I digress. So that was my old role.

Narrator: A lot has changed for Tope since that role. She says that she learned a lot along  the way.

Tope Sadiku: Yeah, most definitely. Actually, it’s given me an appreciation of, um, one’s attitude towards change. And I was, I just had lunch with a friend today. Uh, she’s an architect actually. She’s, she’s a, like a senior principal for a well known architectural, uh, firm. And we were talking about, I, I really love like talking. the intentional design of space and how it can impact, like work the workforce. And then actually as I even lean further into the role that I’m in today, how, how does that actually then materialize and manifest when we, when we talk about like the achievement of a strategy. Um, and I was talking to her about when I first moved here, so it’s funny, like maybe I, maybe I was primed because I’d read. I was thinking of our conversation, but I don’t know. We were talking about itand I said, you know, when I first moved, I actually hated it. I really, really disliked a lot of things. Like I was annoyed because, you know, , I started off by saying, I order my Starbucks, it tells me four to seven minutes and I go at nine. So I know it’s there and I like, I like the. , I kind of actually like structure and routine. You know, I wake up at the same time. I kind of eat the same thing. I work out with the same I I, Monday or Sunday, I will do the same generic things in a day. And what that does is it gives me like freedom and flexibility and flow. Anyway. The reason I tell you all of that is reeling it back. Change is not like comfortable because change is like a change of routine and, and all of that movement, it gave me a deep and a deep appreciation of. , no matter. , let’s say Open one thinks they are, change is just uncomfortable. Imagine if you had to think about everything you did in the day. Like, oh, I wanna brush my teeth. Like, where do I get toothpaste from? Oh, I want to watch something on television. Like, actually, how do I turn this television on? On? Like, what are the channels? Oh, I wanna get food and I like this type of food. Like actually wear. , I’m calling it a grocery store, but we call it a supermarket in the uk. So I’m like Googling supermarket and it show me 7-Eleven. Um, and then I would say, okay, I wanna take the. , but there’s actually like not a tube. It’s a different way to travel through Ameri. It was just everything that should just be easy was tough when I moved here. And actually, to be honest, it was also the same when I moved anywhere else. Um, . There’s different language, there’s just different cultural norms, like how people enjoy themselves, how they socialize, how they interact. And none of these things are bad. They’re just different. And actually what I was saying to my friend today is I have to remind myself when something doesn’t feel great in the beginning, it’s not actually bad, it’s just different. And different isn’t bad, it’s just different. Um, and as many times as you can move, you can forget that different is. bad. It is just different. And we need time to get used to that. And you can think about moving to different spaces. You can even think about exposure to different types of people. Race, gender, color, ethnic, uh, like, uh, religious background, sexuality, whatever. These things are not bad. They’re just like different and they just take time. Like you have to extend grace to yourself to kind of go on that journey. So when I think about employee experience, it gives me moving around. Just gives me this like, Deep understanding of how uncomfortable it can be for things to change as progressive as you think you are, as open-minded as you think you are, as like willing to change as you think you are. 

Narrator: Moving a lot has given Tope a deep appreciation for change and difference. It made her see how a new employee could feel the first few weeks at their job. Even the little things, like a new drink order at a coffee shop, reminds her that change is inevitable.

Tope Sadiku: You know, sometimes I think we’re open to changing big things, but it’s like the little things like when I move to the US again, , I like a cha latte. It has soy milk. Soy milk in the UK tastes different to soy milk in America. So I was, I’d find my drink and be like, yes, thank God. There’s one thing that I recognize and I drink and it tastes different, and I’m like, this has to stop. Like all the small things that change. Um, and it, it gives me an appreciation of just how uncomfortable it can be, even if it’s actually better. Just because it’s better doesn’t mean that it just, you automatically understand it. In fact, we were just having the same conversation with my friend, uh, my friend and I, um, you can’t just expect someone to do something cuz you say it’s good for you. I, I’ve done the research, therefore you should, I’ve decided this is the right thing that will not, I can tell you now, that will not make me change anything. I just do not lead with that. So anyway, yeah, the moving around has given me that appreciation.

Narrator: Let’s zoom out and see how Tope plans for and views her role in The Flight Plan.

Tope Sadiku: Yeah, sure thing. So my, My old, um, boss would say, you are the. Forward advancer, I think it’s called Forward Advancer, and maybe I’ll get fact checked later on. What he was trying to say is if this was like the military or like the Army, you are the one who goes into the environment. You can assess the environment and you come back and tell us like, what’s, what’s happening. And you kind of help us strategize. And you know, you’ve got this team behind you that will help you build, um, like leaning into. Expertise. There’s, there’s another, there’s like a team that everybody plays a part, but you are the one who’s like going into the future, going into the environment and telling us what is happening. And based on that, we adjust our strategy. And that was like the role that I played within technology. Um, or at least I endeavored to play. I don’t think you ever, at least in my experience, I never felt like I got to do everything I wanted to do at that time that I wanted to do it. But then, you know what new things came up as well. Um, but I would look at, as I mentioned, actually maybe I didn’t mention the space in which our employees work, the tools that they have. 

Narrator: Tope says that spaces can be a tool. How can people feel and be productive in a space? What kind of space enables productivity and creativity? What kind of spaces reduce barriers? Tope’s been thinking about all of this.

Tope Sadiku: The space in which our employees work, the tools that they have. in those spaces, but the tools really that they have to do their job. So let’s talk about spaces and that I’m saying space as opposed to place. Cuz it can actually be like a, a physical space. So like an office or a virtual space or like a, a virtual space like. Even just, there’s so much that there can even be, um,everything from like looking at like a browser, um, and a virtual workspace you can create in a browser all the way to like all of these like cloud-based systems. To be honest, I didn’t look after the cloud, but like the idea of like a virtual space, um, and then. the way that we kind of interacted in those spaces and how we communicated with one another. So like, how I try and describe, it’s that the first two pillars were really looking at like transformation of technology. And I didn’t, I, I wanna be very clear, like I, I’m not an engineer. I, I wasn’t the one building things, but really like trying to create like what that Art of the possible would be. Uh, and then the third pillar was really looking at, um, the behaviors required to be effective in those spaces. So like, what does productivity look like? And the way I, I can also think to describe it is if, um, . Imagine if you had like a smartphone, but before a smartphone you had like a piece of paper and a pen and like a fax machine and like a big desktop computer, uh, and a big like desk based phone. And then someone said, actually, you know what? We’re gonna consolidate all these huge physical things that you probably can’t even imagine into this tiny little smartphone that’s like the transformation side, but then how you work actually changes. What you’re able to do also now evolves. And that was like the behavioral side, like the product, we call it digital productivity, but what does it mean to use this new technology in this space? And how does that like. How can that enhance your life? How does that enable you to be more productive? Uh, you know, reduce time and barriers. Reduce time to kind of connect with your colleagues and collaborate and reduce barriers to execution. And then fundamentally, like, give you time to be creative and inspired, and then actually give you the tools that you need when you get there to be creative and inspired.

Narrator: Kraft Heinz is a CPG company, and they’re a food manufacturing company. When Tope describes the personas in her company, she has a lot of ground to cover.

Tope Sadiku: At least I know we are in the top three biggest food manufacturing companies in the world. So we make like products that people eat, and probably a lot of things like the listeners for this podcast would recognize, like ketchup, mayonnaise. Beans, which I absolutely love. Um, I’m learning about like mac and cheese, I’m learning about Oscar Mayers. I’m learning about all of these different American brands. So we’re a cpg and we, and we, we make food. There are so many different like, versions of personas in this company. But at least in my practice, when I thought about personas and actually not even thought, when I think about personas, um, I think about personas from this perspective. And there’s a book called Crossing the Chasm, um, written by Jeffrey Moore, who is awesome. Like I read that when I was in university and I read it, actually, I read it just before I took this. My last position, apologies. in Jeffrey Moore’s book, he has this innovation adoption curve or technology adoption curve. And in it, he has four personas. One is an, uh, digital enthusiast, which is like three to 5% of the population. And it’s an, it’s, it’s a, it’s a persona of somebody who is very enthusiastic about any advances in technology, in fact, any innovative advances. And while this population represents. Small group, three to 5%. Really, what I think is also about them is that they are so happy to like test in like a beta phase, um, experiment. Things don’t have to be perfect. They’ll give you feedback and actually they can act as like some of the greatest influences, um, especially when it comes to like helping things go viral. And then you move to the early, so then the next. Classification is called like your majority and it’s broken into early and late majority. And that if you think of like a bell curve, I actually don’t a hundred percent remember the percentage, but let’s say it’s like 70 to 80% cause it’s kind of quite big and between both and what one is, uh, like the early majority is like okay, it has to kind of be proven. So it can’t be in like beta, you know, minimum viable product phase, but it’s kind of new to market and I’m happy to, um, Kinda like switch or I’m happy to test an experiment. And then your late majority kind of moves once this thing is gained momentum. Um, and then the final persona he calls laggards and the laggard is like, um, basically somebody who will not change, uh, refuses to switch and actually. In all honesty in life, we’re all of them. At any one point in time when, um, we’re all of, we can be any one of them. It’s not like you would say I’m an enthusiast, everything in life. I just don’t think anybody is. There is something that you just do not wanna change. Look at me. Someone who tries to, who believes that they are progressive. I call myself like intellectually curious. Yeah, I can get upset when my Starbucks tastes different. So we. All of the personas at once, were never just one. 

Narrator: When Tope thinks about personas, she narrows them down to four main versions.

Tope Sadiku: The way we applied it within my practice is that we would say, okay, so you, uh, you’ve got your digital in digital enthusiast, same kinda language, and actually the same kind of characteristic and behavior. Someone who is enthusiastic about technology. Um, we would use this population, actually, we created a, a group that we, an externally facing group called collaborations Champions. , anybody could join and they would hear about new advances in technology and they’d test and experiment and they’d give us feedback and we’d like make amendments and they’d have access directly to like, um, the wider technology team to answer any questions. And then we move into the second group, which is your he, Jeffrey Moore called it the early majority, but uh, we called it digital native and less about like, age. Um, actually this is really about like your attitude towards technology. Either it comes native to you. , and if it become, if it just feels natural to you, then you were a digital native and you could be like 90 years old or you could be like two years old. I mean, provocative, but you get my point. Like, it, it doesn’t have anything to do with your age, your section, nothing else. Not even where you live in the world, just like your attitude to kind of like curiosity and, and things. New advances in. And then we, the third group, this is the late majority, we called them digital immigrants. And again, nothing to do with like actual immigration status. Nothing to do with age or anything like that. What we were trying to say is, when it comes to techno technological advances, does it feel like you are migrating to something new? Um, and that’s really what that population represented. And by the way, digital immigrant and digital native are not original language, actually it’s like a, there’s academic literature that also speaks to the same. We just, we took it and we applied it to this model. And then the final, um, lagar, we just call them traditionalists mainly. Cause as we were talking in the company, we’re like, yeah, we probably shouldn’t be using the word lagar. So we, we call them traditionalists and that’s someone who likes things to be in a traditional way. So yeah, those were our four personas within the practice.

Narrator: A good employee experience can create a good customer experience. And employees are key to how Tope drives transformation. Let’s get into how Kraft Heinz serves up a First Class experience.

Tope Sadiku: One of the things that has really served me well, and actually I’ll keep this for the rest of my life, is this idea of like proof of concepts and minimum viable products. Um, actually that’s the first one and that, so we have 30, I’m sorry, probably about 40 or 50,000 employees split between like our people who work in our factory, like our frontline workers, and then people who work in our offices. Um, like you may call them like knowledge workers. Um, People all over the world, and not even just living in certain places, but like from different places. I mean, what’s cool about the AM Center, which is where I am today, I can kind of walk around and hear so many different accents. Um, but we’re all in Chicago. So you, you couldn’t even just look at this office. I mean, you couldn’t say, okay, there’s like, However many thousands of people here, or maybe hundreds, um, and they’re all in America and Americans behave this way, well actually not, we’re like quite dynamic and all of our offices are kind of also like that in their own unique way. Um, Um, so the idea of like running a proof of concept just to say like, I have this hypothesis. Um, I have this idea and I, I just wanna test and experiment. Will it work? And then to what level can I kind of scale this out? And then at what point do I say, okay, the, the standard is maximized and then now here has the space for like individual or local nuance. Um, that’s that, maybe that’s too actually. So proof of concept and minimum viable product, um, products. Yes. And then the idea of like understanding when your product has reached its maximum scale and, and when to invite local nuance because everybody wants to feel individual and also part of a group. You know, I, I, I really do believe that. 

Narrator: Transformation can be driven by experimentation. It can also be driven by individual and group ideas. But pursuing transformation does have to be done carefully.

Tope Sadiku: you know, it’s not always about the battles. Sometimes it’s about winning the war, and that actually kind of sounds a bit aggressive, so I’m gonna say it in a different way. Um, there’s a difference be when it comes to transformation. There’s a difference between like disruption and destruction. Um, if, if I wanted to get fitter, that might be disrupting my schedule, but I don’t wanna destroy my body, you know? But it, there is some level of disruption and sometimes we can get like, very excited to the point of like, destruction and knowing where that line is. It’s kind of gray, but like, knowing where to stop is also very, very important. And it, and it’s different on different projects, but like keeping your eyes in mind and heart open that okay. At some point. It might be enough. And like, what do I really, for example, we, we are like an oh 365 suite. We use Microsoft Teams. If someone came in and were like, oh, let’s use, I don’t know, another platform, is that really like the most, is, is that like a battle that we need to fight? Is that actually destruction above disruption? Um, so yeah. , I would say the top three things. Running proof of concepts and minimum viable products. Um, understanding when your product is at the maximum, maximum, like universal scale and when to when to create like the blank space or the black balancing figure, um, for local nuances. And then three, um, what? I just forgot it. Oh yeah, that’s it. Disruption versus destruction.

Narrator: Another thing that’s transforming is the modern office space. Tope’s been working on making employee spaces more comfortable, whether they’re at home, in a shared office, or in a virtual space.

Tope Sadiku: Um, and you know, There’s a lot of research that says like, people like to have a space that’s their base. They wanna put like things that remind like. Achi, what’s it called? Not archetypes. Mm. Like memory memories and things like that. I dunno why my brain is turned into mush in this exact moment. But they wanna put things that represent things that are important to them. It’s like pictures of their family. Um, artifacts. That’s it.  They , sorry. People want to put like artifacts in spaces. occupy that help them feel like safe, secure, and, and that this space belongs to them. Um, and like how do you manage that when there’s like free address? You can’t, like, you know, there’s a clean desk policy and actually, you know, tomorrow you might come in, also sat there, you gotta book the desk. There was a point like this in the pandemic, but actually where we, where we were able to like provide that personalization was okay, when you actually dock your monitor, sorry, your laptop into your monitor, what was that experience when you turned on your device and was there a way that we could kind of have like an a transient experience? Um, That, no, maybe not transient, but one that kind of moved with you, uh, an omnipresent, let’s say an omnipresent experience that moved regardless of where you sat in our physical spaces and could also come home with you. And you can achieve that through like configurations in browsers. And actually really the way is just to educate your employees, um, unlike the effectiveness and some of the tools and capabilities. within, like browsers that exist today. So that was, that was one way that we were able to provide personalization and that, and I kind of liked that cuz then it was like location agnostic. So it wasn’t that, okay, this is what my computer looks like if I’m at home or if I’m in the office or if I’m in like a, like a third location. Um, but this is actually what my profile and. Space looks like, and I’ve configured it and I’ve maybe even put colors there and I’ve put like, I wanna know what the weather is like, maybe I wanna keep up to date with this bit of like news and I can really work on like visual. So that’s like one example.

Narrator: Employees are not only working within a fluctuating office environment, but huge advancements in tech. Companies can foster digital productivity by providing the right tools. 

Tope Sadiku: I would go back to my conversation around transformation, like vis like technological transformation and then adding on. the idea of like these behaviors, which we call digital productivity, but really we, we run like ethnographical research, um, with like a third party and we were able to say what are like the moods actually not moods of work, but like what are like. uh, what are our focuses for digital productivity? What are the behaviors that our employees need or may need, we hypothesize that could be effective and useful given the, the advancements we’ve made in technology? So the first one was art of collaboration. Then smarter meetings was as, Second one and, and smart meetings is less about being an effective meeting organizer or an attendee, but really rethinking the purpose of a meeting. How we share information, um, when we can do share information like an asynchronous way or use different pieces of technology, um, or different types of technology to kind of spread a message with people. Because you know, there’s also research that says like, effective meetings have like eight or less people. What if you’ve got like a hundred people, you know, is that like the right way to meet? So no, smart meetings are zone focused and then agile, which is now blown up to be our superpower. And actually that is part of like my new role. Um,how, how do we scale agile within craft tines? What is the branding, what is the communication plan around that? What is our internal and external messaging and. , I’m like six weeks in. So we’re still working on that. I probably didn’t really have much to share on that beyond, that’s what I’m focusing on. Uh, and then the fourth one is design thinking and, and really like how do we apply principles of design in a CPG and a manufacturing company and across all org, uh, all functions within the organization. So not just for like, marketing. But what about finance? What about it, how, what does design thinking look like in hr? You know, like the principles of design where you, um, hypothesize and then you prototype and you iterate, and you really do that root cause analysis. Like these are core fundamental tenants that are effective across the entire organization. So that idea of digital productivity, the digital behaviors that we need, oh, We hypothesize can be effective in this new way of working this new life.

Narrator: Serving employees comes back to serve the company in a cycle. But sometimes things can still get a little bumpy. Tope shares some wisdom she’s gained from when things get rough, in Turbulence.

Tope Sadiku: Autonomy and agency is so important. Um, I think it’s Daniel Pink, is it? He, there’s like a YouTube video of, um, , it talks about the fact that employees or humans love, autonomy, purpose, and mastery, and like one of the best, best, best, best, best managers out there I’ve ever had in my history to date. he introduced me to that video and, and actually really what does that mean? And like even from when you have like analysts in your team all the way to like very senior members of your team, like what does autonomy, purpose and mastery look like? Um, and I really, really appreciate, appreciated it. it. So I think that is something that I think is just very important. Autonomy, purpose, and mastery, uh, and respect for the individual. And that might just sound. So obvious, but you can like, give people a lot of money, a great title. You can give them everything that you might think would like, motivate people on the surface, but really like respect. Um, nothing like beats respect. Um, and actually like when you don’t respect people, you don’t respect them, but you really. , somebody’s like one’s ability to also respect you too. But these are like principles that we teach children. We really like hammer them into children and then like we don’t reinforce them in adults. And actually we make excuses for adults who behave in poor ways when you would never make that excuse for a child. Um, so yeah, autonomy agency, uh, and purpose and then like, respect.

Narrator: When things get bumpy, what’s helped Tope figure things out?

Tope Sadiku: Yeah. what helps me is like humility. because when people are afraid, I think it’s nice to know that you’re not like afraid alone, but it’s nice to know that you have, like, even while we don’t know exactly where to go, I’m like willing and open and I, and I want to kind of figure it out together. And I’ve seen, like in my career today, I’ve had some awesome experiences. I’m being on both ends of like receiving and giving that, giving that like humble humility. Humble leadership where you kind of go on that journey together and then it’s just so delightful when you, when you get it back as well. Um, so when I think about leading through change, no one has all the answers. And the worst thing is to, worst thing anybody can do is pretend that they do. Um, but when you kind of give yourself the scope and capacity to say, I, I dunno, but trust me, I’m so determined to figuring this out with you. Let’s do this together. You know, sometimes in uncertainty, people try. It, it’s, it’s possible and easier, um, to act in the opposite, effective way.

Narrator: After everything she’s experienced and learned, Tope has one big, final piece of advice.

Tope Sadiku: Yeah. Um, I would say extend grace to yourself and to other people because we are all like trying to figure this out. Nobody, I don’t think anyone has experience of tomorrow. Um, so yeah, give like, give yourself a minute, give yourself a break, like extend grace to you and then also extend that same grace to other people and assume best intentions.

Narrator: Leading through change can be difficult, but if you have the right technology, and the right mindset, you can adjust accordingly. Today Tope encouraged us to pursue transformation and experiment a little. Try out new spaces. Embrace advances in technology. And most importantly, lead with humility, and don’t be too hard on yourself. 

Thanks for listening to this episode of Cruising Altitude. This episode is brought to you by Firstup, the company that is redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up by connecting every worker, everywhere with the information that helps them do their best work. Firstup has helped over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies like Amazon, AB InBev, Ford and Pfizer stay agile and keep transforming. Learn more at

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Cruising Altitude

Lessons from companies over 30,000 employees

Conversations with leaders who are designing the best digital employee experiences in the world – from the front lines to the back office. Life is different over 30,000. Welcome to Cruising Altitude.

Hosted by Firstup Founder and CEO, Nicole Alvino.

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