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Even through difficult times, our values are always at the heart of what we do

How living by our values helped us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together

Geraldine O’Rourke, our Group Managing Director, explains how our five values underpin our culture, and help shape the Group’s response to challenge and change.

In an organisation like ours, with more than 1,000 people and 67 different nationalities, working on behalf of clients across multiple jurisdictions, we need to have a guiding set of values that resonate with our stakeholders, employees, clients and third parties alike. Aztec is, above all else, a people-centric business.

Redefining our values

Two years ago, our People Committee took on the project of redefining our company values of Bright, Caring, Passionate, Responsible and Unified. It was a fascinating exercise that forced us to think really deeply about our ambition, our purpose, and our collective moral compass.

Companies often talk about to their values, but they don’t mean much until you really need them. More than anyone could have expected, 2020 presented businesses with challenges that  revealed what’s crucially important, especially when it comes to the way we go about our work and how we show up for our clients, whatever may be happening.

We’re Bright – because we create smart solutions for our clients

Bright is the quality that our clients really love about us, and it showcases the solution-driven, delivery-focused culture we’re so proud of. To us, bright means not only taking an intelligent approach, but showing creativity and imagination in positive ways that make a real difference. It’s about thinking big and going further to deliver a better quality of service, every single day.

To give just one example, our IT team really stepped up make sure that all of us could carry on delivering a seamless service to our clients, finding ways to stay connected and unified, even while working remotely. In the worst of circumstances, it’s been the best demonstration of our bright approach – and commitment to “getting things done” – that we could ever hope to see.

We’re Caring – because we’re a people business

When we set up our focus groups, we initially started talking about caring as showing respect for one another. But over the course of our discussions, as important as respect is, we came to realise that for us, ‘caring’ was really much more about understanding.

Every day, we look to understand our clients and find out what’s important to them. It’s about recognising what’s required and treating others how you would want to be treated. The last few months have really demonstrated that this value is an essential part of our daily working life.

We’re Passionate – because we take great pride in our work

Passion is an essential part of our Group culture. We have created an environment that people enjoy being part of, and where they take great satisfaction in the work they do. Our passion keeps us motivated to succeed, to make progress and to keep solving problems. As an organisation, we’re passionate about helping others to succeed, as well as ourselves. It’s also why we created the in-house Aztec training Academy, to help people develop as individuals. We want to create a supportive environment where people can learn from one another and have a thriving career full of opportunities so they reach their full potential.

Lots of people say our culture is one of the reasons why they join us, but also – more importantly – the reason why they stay with us. Keeping the same people onboard and engaged over time is really important to ensuring business continuity, and our clients appreciate that the teams they work with stay together for the long-term and are happy in their work.

We’re Responsible – because our clients and colleagues place great trust in us

When we discussed our values, we had to make sure they reflected the accountability that each of us has in our day-to-day work. We take our responsibilities very seriously. Our clients place an enormous amount of trust in us, and they know we can be trusted to do the right thing at the right time. We have a responsibility to our people, by helping them with training and support to develop in their role and achieve their full potential.

We’re Unified – because we’re one business with a single purpose and vision

‘Unified’ is perhaps not a value often focused on, but it’s integral to our business and our culture. It is the one that brings all our other values together. It is there to remind us that we’re not just a collection of individuals – we are a team.

We’re constantly collaborating across different teams and jurisdictions. Whatever we’re looking to achieve, we know that getting there means bringing as many people as possible along with us. Our success comes from sharing our knowledge and working to find solutions together.

2020… The year our values have been put to the test

Time and again, and in really pivotal moments, the senior leadership team has gone back to our values to help us make the right decisions, both in terms of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our people, and continuing to deliver superior client service in really challenging and uncertain times. Right from the top of the organisation down to individual teams, our people have all been quietly heroic.

Of course all jurisdictions in which we operate experienced a duration of ‘lockdown’ in 2020; speaking with one of our clients at the time, I was really pleased to hear they “didn’t notice any difference” to the service they received. As an organisation deeply committed to digital transformation, this was great to hear. To maintain total business continuity for our clients was no small feat, and could only happen after a lot of hard work and effort from a huge number of people getting on with their work and demonstrating all of our values.

While all of our values have proven essential in responding to the coronavirus crisis, it’s clear that ‘caring’ has been at the heart of every decision we’ve made. As well as dealing with their own personal challenges, everyone has shown enormous understanding towards their colleagues. I think this is something to be really proud of, and every single person at Aztec has lived by this value over the course of this crisis.

At the end of the day, it’s our values that define who we are

If someone had asked me at the beginning of the year what I was most proud of during my time with Aztec, my answer would have been about the formal work we did to redefine each of our values. Bringing together different people from all parts of our organisation, and giving them a say in shaping the character of the business, was inspiring.

But today, I can say that our five values have been put to the test during the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, and they have informed, guided and shaped the decisions we’ve made. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of such an amazing group of people, who not only live the Aztec values, but have shown their character and resilience when we needed it most.

If you’re interested in finding out more about a career at Aztec, get in touch with our recruitment team on careers@aztecgroup.co.uk 


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