Effective leadership is more critical than ever

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, effective leadership is more critical than ever. As part of our ongoing efforts to foster a culture of transparency, support, and collaboration, we sat down with our Chief Operating Officer, Mateo Muñoz, to gain some authentic insights into their approach to effective leadership. Mateo not only operates our companies globally, but he also sits on the Boards of The Natural History Museum of Utah, Utah Tech Leads, and Silicon Slopes Latino. Join us as we delve into the experiences and strategies of our COO, and discover what makes our leadership team effective and inspiring.

Interview Questions

  1. Can you share your personal journey to becoming the COO of Duuzra? What were some key experiences that shaped your leadership style?

Wow, really trying to date me with this one aren’t we. I may be an elder millennial, but I’m still a millennial, haha. This could get really long, due to me being middle aged, so I’ll do my best to shorten it a bit. To the first question I will say a continued thirst for knowledge, the desire to create positive change, and the willingness to lead under almost any circumstance. I go with those principles because I believe a lot of things have impacted me in my role to becoming COO. My parents did a very good job at allowing me to try a lot of different activities as a child and have always supported me in adventuring through life. I’m a pretty hands on learner and still do my best to fully immerse myself and look at things from many different perspectives. This definitely has helped me when it comes to decision making, setting up best practices and processes, and most importantly hiring effective teams. As much as I lead I know I’m not going to get it done without a great team. 

I’ll do the second question quick fire. Being a football/soccer goalkeeper, coaching sports, mock trial, startups, startups, startups, did I say startups, haha, becoming a parent, parenting, community organizing, ohh man, I know I’m going to think of some and have to email you later to ask you to put them in.

  1. How would you describe your leadership philosophy? What core values do you believe are essential for effective leadership?

Definitely servant leadership. Mentioned it in the last one, but you are only as good as your team. I really enjoy seeing our team succeed and grow and if that is happening our departments and business is highly likely to be doing the same. I have some good ideas from time to time, but it is often our team that is coming up with them and getting to help them to action it and eventually do it fully on their own is the best it gets in business for me. As far as core values go I again hit on them a bit in the first one but let’s go with: Continual learner, empathy, willingness to listen, less is more, do it with joy if you can, transparency, desire to mentor, change agent, should I keep going. I’ll go with that and again, you might be getting an email later.

  1. Can you provide an example of a time when the management team faced a significant challenge and how you worked together to resolve it?

Well, you know as well as I do Duuzra has a storied past so there are quite a few to choose from. That stated though, I’ll go with our Pandemic flip. What our team did to move from a mainly in person business, to having zero revenue unless we came up with a fully virtual solution, to getting a solution up in roughly 3 months and then growing that business was one of my proudest moments. The way our team came together and worked through so many challenges from development, to marketing, and bringing in new sales. We did have some hiccups, but the alignment and the push forward was great to see. Also, watching people pick each other up as we all struggled to adapt to pandemic was just as great.

  1. How do you foster a supportive and inclusive culture within your teams? What strategies do you use to ensure everyone feels valued and heard?

Open and effective communication is what I would note as the key ingredient. Making sure that everyone has space to talk through issues, celebrating successes together, fostering a sense of belonging, being decent people to each other are all necessary and that communication pattern catalyzes these and so many other important keys to success. As far as tools go we have regular team meetings where we use our time effectively to talk through different things we might be having issues with or need some different perspectives on. Listening to each employee and seeing where they are and where they want to be and setting up plans to help get them there. Allowing managers to run their own teams. Yes, getting involved as necessary, but making sure that you and your manager are aligned. An open door policy, or open chat policy as we are mostly virtual. Town Halls. Company activities. Can I say it for the third time, I’ll probably email you more later, hahahahahaha.

  1. What role does communication play in your leadership approach, and how do you ensure effective communication within the organisation?

Is that organization with a z or an s as I may answer it differently, hahaha. Man, I must be an elder millennial dad as I am cracking myself up during this interview. I feel like I keep answering the subsequent question with my answer to the previous one. I think I got into the ensuring the effective piece heavily in the last one, but I think it really comes down to fostering openness. Yes, there is still right and wrong, and there are still rules, but if someone can make an effective argument for change, bring it. We may end up implementing it, we may not, but we are at least talking about it and giving opportunity for communication and thought processing. Ohh and to answer to what role does it play, as noted in the last answer it is core. 

  1. How do you balance long-term strategic planning with the need to be agile and responsive to immediate challenges?

Working early in the morning or late at night. No, I’m not joking, hear me out. A lot of my day is filled with being agile and responsive to immediate challenges. Without that piece it’s extremely hard to get to the long-term strategic planning. In college some of my friends used to call me Mr. Wolf, a reference to the character in Pulp Fiction that fixes problems. Making quick assessments and executing them can be crucial and impact the business in both the long term and the short term in very positive and negative ways. The piece that many miss though is that Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction is fixing problems, but he is doing so with the long-term objective in mind. He is able to solve in the short term, because he has taken the time to look at what the desired outcome in the long-term is. I digressed for a moment, but bringing it back to the early morning or late at night piece, that is when I often do a lot of long-term thinking. Of course these are talked over with team, many of them are often scrapped, but having some time to think about the long-term, being open to evaluating and changing it when necessary, and then wrapping it into what we do in the short-term is a must in my playbook.

  1. Can you talk about a project or initiative that you are particularly proud of, and explain the role leadership played in its success?

Are we talking Duuzra here or anything I’ve worked on? Anything, ok, this is going to be lame, but it’s coming up and it’s on my mind right now as I have to do a couple of things for it, but our annual neighborhood Labor Day block party. Yep, that’s right a block party. It has been a great community event and really helped our neighborhood get more acquainted with one another and pulled people out of the Covid funk. I’ve met so many great people at it, all our kids have a great time, and it has really helped to foster a sense of community. Year one was a pretty decent uplift, but sense then we have pulled in more people to help. We have organized it into different sections so different people help with different task, whether it is finding vendors, pulling permits, getting equipment etc. As I’ve noted throughout this discussion communication is key. Communication of an idea, communication of who might do what, communication of who will do what, communication to get all task done, communication that the event is happening, I can keep going, but I won’t. I’ll simply end with there was a lot of things that was necessary from leaders of the community to get this done and we did it with communication being the core tenant. 

  1. What advice would you give to emerging leaders who aspire to hold executive positions in the future?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you don’t need to know the answer to everything but you should be able to find it to help point team in the right direction, find some great mentors, mentor others as they will help to push you and keep you growing, your team is your most important asset, read the room, push but never push too far, enjoy the success of your team and when it’s time to let them go know you have helped them grow into their next role whether internal or external. Do I say it one last time. You know I’m going to email, ok, I won’t, but you know I want to. Thanks for doing this, it was fun.

We hope these insights from our COO provide a glimpse into the principles and practices that drive our leadership team. Stay connected with us on LinkedIn for more updates and stories from Duuzra.

We hope this interview will shed light on the principles guiding our company and encourage you to connect with us on LinkedIn to stay updated on our journey.

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