Executive Spotlight: Albert Chang, Government Customer Engagement Leader at Elsevier
As a government customer engagement specialist at Elsevier, Albert Chang leverages his over 25 years of leadership experience to help the company’s federal customers streamline processes to achieve better research outcomes.
In a recent interview with the Potomac Officers Club, Chang revealed his career background and inspirations, shared his leadership style and reflected on his accomplishments.
Read the full interview below:
Tell us about your background. How have you been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape over the course of your career?
My career, which spans over 30 years, has been about change. Having worked in five different industries, I have learned to adapt and to recognize a lot of similarities across these fields. At the end of the day, we are all trying to solve problems. The challenge is knowing how to take advantage of your experiences and strengths to find solutions. The ability to think critically and apply methodologies in ways no one has thought of combined with continuous learning is where you find answers.
What do you believe are your core strengths as a leader and what have your experiences taught you about driving success?
One core strength I value is continuous learning. I always consider myself a student even though I’m no longer in the classroom, and I ask a lot of questions. Another strength, which I don’t consider a strength because I’m always trying to improve, is active listening. This is not just hearing words while you’re doing something else – which is a bad habit many people exhibit today. Rather, it’s engaging with the speaker by understanding what is being communicated that is not verbalized, observing how words are expressed and learning their perspective. This is not easy to do well and takes a lot of practice – if it’s done correctly, it should be mentally exhausting at first. Over time, it gets easier, but it should still feel like it takes work.
Throughout your career, who has inspired you the most? What aspects of their work style did you find most compelling?
I don’t have one specific individual that inspired me. Rather, I always learn something, either good or bad, from each person with whom I interact. They say it is difficult to be a great leader, and most of us know through experience that this is true. Think about the managers you’ve had in your career. I think it would be safe to say that a small percentage were truly great – that is certainly true in my case. I’ve had 17 different managers in my career so far, and I would say that there were only two or three that I would consider exceptional leaders. Having said that, we can learn quite a bit from any manager and pick up certain aspects of their leadership we want or don’t want to exhibit.
What would you say have been the most notable achievements of your career and where do you feel you have made the strongest impact?
The accomplishments that stand out are the problems I have solved that seemed impossible to others. I tend to gravitate towards challenging problems that keep me up at night and are incredibly frustrating throughout the process, but so rewarding in the end. Some rewards were financial in nature, others had the satisfaction of solving a problem in a way that no one thought of before.
Describe your leadership style. What is your approach to creating a positive and productive work environment?
I am a collaborative leader who values and respects each person’s perspective and input. We all contribute in some ways, and I am always looking for ways to leverage each person’s strengths for the benefit of everyone. At the same time, I push my team a little beyond their comfort zones and challenge them to think differently. We all tend to do things the same way every time, but the key to creating a positive and productive work environment is to grow – and you cannot grow unless there is a little discomfort.
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