Antonio Calco' Labruzzo - Global Head of Human Resources, GREFP and TBS at Takeda

Human Resources
21 July, 2023

Antonio Calco’ Labruzzo is the Global Head of Human Resources, GREFP and TBS at Takeda in Zurich. Antonio started his HR career in Italy, and prior to his current role at Takeda was a CHRO at Colosseum Group/Jacobs Holding.  

What is your purpose and what does it mean to you?

Purpose is like the North Star that guides me throughout my journey, igniting a fire within me to make a meaningful impact.

Let me take you back to the early days of my career. I was fresh-faced and eager, but I had doubts about the significance of my role. I believed that only those in senior positions had the power to shape an organization's purpose. How wrong I was!

It was during my time as a recruiter, responsible for hiring interns, that I realized the profound impact that positions of all levels can have. I was the linchpin in an organization where 80% of new roles were filled through internships. Can you imagine the weight of that responsibility? It was a humbling realization that my work had far-reaching consequences.

Over time, I understood that purpose isn't limited to specific roles or ranks; it flows through every individual, regardless of their position. It’s about stepping out of the spotlight at the centre of the stage and directing our focus towards the greater good, and creating lasting, sustainable impacts.

In my current role, I'm passionate about instilling this belief in everyone, ensuring that they recognize their immense impact on our shared purpose. It's in the pharma industry, where patients are the priority, that purpose becomes even more vital.

Whether you're developing life-saving drugs or optimizing processes to save time for those on the front lines, purpose infuses every action with meaning. Purpose is the driving force that propels us forward on both sunny and cloudy days, reminding us why we do what we do.

Why are you so passionate about the People strategy?

The People strategy is a passion rooted in my personal journey. Picture this: I started my career in HR while completing my master’s in business management. At that time, most of my classmates were flocking to Finance or Marketing roles. They questioned my decision, wondering why I didn't choose the conventional path.

But I had a different perspective. I saw HR as a gateway to understanding organizations at their core, a springboard to make a lasting impact. Little did I know that HR would capture my heart in ways I couldn't have imagined. It wasn't just about the social interactions; it was the ever-changing nature of HR that captivated me.

Each day, I wore multiple hats - a lawyer, a psychologist, an economist, a personal coach. The dynamic nature of HR kept me engaged and eager to learn. Over time, I witnessed the transformation of HR from being viewed as a mere administrative function to a strategic powerhouse.

In today's fast-paced, ever-evolving world, HR plays a pivotal role in shaping organizational success amidst digital disruption. But what truly drives my passion for the People strategy is the realization that people are the beating heart of any organization, regardless of the industry. From mergers and acquisitions to start-ups seeking investments, it's the people, their culture, and their leadership that determine success.

In HR, I have the privilege of guiding and nurturing the right individuals, helping them find their place in the organization and contribute to something greater than themselves.

How do you see digitalization coming into HR?

The winds of digitalization are reshaping the landscape of HR, bringing both excitement and challenges. “Think of digital transformation less as a technology project to be finished than as a state of perpetual agility, always ready to evolve,” said Amit Zavery, VP and Head of Platform at Google Cloud.

Imagine stepping into a world where HR embraces digital practices, leveraging technology to empower organizations and individuals alike. This digital revolution has two fascinating facets.

Firstly, HR professionals themselves must adapt, embracing digital acumen and expanding their skillset to keep pace with the changing times. We need to challenge ourselves to be at the forefront of digital innovation.

Secondly, HR plays a crucial role in guiding organizations through their digital journey. We have an unprecedented opportunity to facilitate the right match between people and roles using advanced algorithms and data-driven insights. The potential of talent marketplaces, where skills seamlessly align with organizational needs, is awe-inspiring. Digitalization unlocks vast reserves of data, enabling us to make faster and more informed decisions.

I am thrilled to be at the forefront of this transformation, working towards a future where technology amplifies human potential and facilitates our collective success. That's why initiatives where we invest in future talent and equip them with digital skills resonate deeply with me.

It's about lifelong learning for those with longer experience and preparing the next generation to thrive in this digital era, and ensuring our organizations remain agile and future ready.

Did you always have a passion for keynote speaking, and did you have to overcome any fears?

Keynote speaking has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. From a young age, I relished the thrill of captivating an audience and sharing insights that could inspire and resonate with others. Family gatherings were not complete without my spirited performances, entertaining everyone with my enthusiastic presence.

However, as I progressed in my career, I realized that passion alone wasn't enough. I needed to develop my skills and learn how to harness my talent more intentionally.

Over the years, I dedicated myself to constantly refining my keynote speaking abilities and I’m still doing it. I focused on becoming crisper, more concise, and more impactful in delivering messages. I understood that it's not just about the stories we tell, but also how we tell them – with clarity, authenticity, and a deep understanding of the audience's needs.

Keynote speeches hold great importance to me for several reasons. Firstly, they provide an avenue to give back and share experiences with others. It's a way to pass on the knowledge and insights I've gained throughout my career, with the hope that it will benefit and inspire those who listen.

Secondly, engaging with an audience allows for a dynamic and enriching two-way exchange of ideas. The questions, feedback, and perspectives shared provide me with new insights and different viewpoints, broadening my own understanding. It's a reciprocal process of learning and growth.

Lastly, keynote speaking enables me to connect with a broader audience and have a larger impact. It's an opportunity to reach individuals who may not have otherwise encountered my ideas or experiences. By sharing stories, lessons, and valuable insights, I strive to inspire positive change and empower others to pursue their own paths to success.

Keynote speaking, to me, is a vehicle for personal and professional growth, as well as a platform for making a difference. It's a constant journey of self-improvement, driven by the belief that, through the power of storytelling and meaningful connections, we can create a brighter and more impactful future.

How has remote working and digital environments impacted your work?

Remote working and digital environments have brought forth a new chapter in how we approach work and connectivity. They have ushered in unprecedented flexibility, enabling us to navigate unexpected situations with greater ease.

Mutual flexibility is a great opportunity to make the most out of our time and optimize it, recognizing that time is the scarcest resource we have. However, as ways of working change, we also need to re-learn how to manage our time effectively.

In this evolving landscape, it becomes crucial to strike a balance between meaningful interactions when we are physically present in the office, and maintaining focus and concentration when working behind a screen. It's about being intentional in our actions and choices, ensuring that we prioritize deep work and avoid the distractions of multi-tasking. The digital world offers immense possibilities, but it also requires discipline and conscious time management.

While remote working provides additional flexibility to tailor our schedules and focus on priorities, we must not overlook the value of genuine human connections. Face-to-face engagements foster empathy, understanding, and collaboration in ways that virtual interactions cannot fully replicate. There is a distinct energy and inspiration that emerges when we are physically present, immersing ourselves in the organizational culture.

Serendipitous encounters, impromptu conversations, and the observation of others in action spark creativity, learning, and personal growth. It is through these shared experiences that we form lasting connections and forge a strong sense of camaraderie. As leaders, we have the responsibility to create an environment that enables meaningful interactions and cultivates a sense of belonging, whether it's in a physical office or a virtual space.

The key lies in embracing the flexibility that technology provides, while cherishing the power of face-to-face engagements. By being mindful of how we allocate our time, leveraging the benefits of remote working, and nurturing authentic human connections, we can thrive in the digital era, while maintaining a sense of community and purpose.

It is through this delicate balance that we can unlock the full potential of remote working and digital environments, fostering productivity, collaboration, and a fulfilling work experience.

Thank you to Antonio for speaking to Millie Flanagan, Associate Consultant in our Human Resources recruitment team in Switzerland. 

Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment