How to lead through change

A photo of Adobe engineering manager, Bianca Tesila.

“Change is the only constant,” was exactly what my friend—now colleague—said to me when I was pondering whether I should accept my job offer at Adobe in 2016. Four years later and I realize this has been the main fuel for my journey here, but also for the company itself.

As a former participant of Adobe’s Women Executive Shawdow Program in 2019, this year I got the opportunity to participate again in the local online version of the program, called “Adobe Romania Shadowing Program for Women.” This program is focused on providing high potential women at Adobe Romania with valuable skills, such as increased visibility, networking opportunities, and cross-functional exposure, through shadowing the senior leaders in our site. As part of it, I was given the opportunity to virtually shadow Cris Radu, our vice president of Digital Experience and site leader of Adobe Romania. The timing could not have been better.

This year has all been about people going through change: the pandemic, working from home, shifting business priorities, and more. And personally, 2020 was when I transitioned from a software engineer role to an engineering manager position. To shadow Cris, who has been leading and empowering entire organizations through change for many years, was exactly what I was looking for.

Witnessing a variety of day-to-day meetings, from 1:1s, project reviews, quarterly summaries or site related discussions, I could not help but notice that all of them were connected by the very same theme—change. Either starting it, living it or celebrating it. At the end of the shadowing experience, I took the opportunity to discuss more in depth with Cris on how, as a leader, you can prepare yourself to deal with change wisely. Here are some of my key takeaways, which I find truly inspiring for anyone pursuing a leadership role.

Bianca: How do you lead change when even yourself needs to be convinced it is the right one?

Cris: There’s always a time when going through a crisis is necessary for an organization to evolve, whether we like it or not. It’s a matter of perspective and, as a leader, it is your job to be able to envision that perspective as well.

If you find yourself in the middle of a major change, don’t be scared, be grateful. Enjoy the challenges, because they are often a major source of your learnings. Believe that you are in the right time and place, and always see change as an opportunity.

Bianca: As a leader, does it ever become easy to make tough decisions?

Cris: Earlier in my career, whenever I had to make a decision, I found that I had more time to acquire information for myself. As I grew on the career ladder, I noticed that whenever I had to make tough decisions, I was given more high-level information than before.

Will you get more comfortable with time? Yes. You learn to trust your intuition, and the people around you—all of which are backed by your experience. You also must accept both success and failure—as they say, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

Will it get easier? It depends on what you are measuring against right now. If your reference is represented by your current challenges, then yes. Decisions that I used to think are hard are now business as usual.

Bianca: What is your biggest source of energy and satisfaction?

Cris: Naturally, I am inspired by the impact I have on people’s growth and success, but what thrills me the most is when I see brilliant people from Adobe Romania making an impact in the business. This is the moment I realize that the culture and system I have been building is succeeding. People who I have empowered and supported are doing the same with their people and so on.