When was the last time you choose not to do what is expected of you, but instead, choose to do what you love?
Good News Jamaica had the pleasure of chatting with Jamaican-born Camille Batiste, who is happy with the life she is living. This after choosing what she loves while attending high school, and continuing to work on making those type of choices every day after. Camille is Vice President, Global Procurement at the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). We called her up to talk about her journey following what she loves. Our hope is that this will inspire others to also make such bold moves.
Camille’s French Connection
During our conversation, we had no doubt about the drive that led to her career progression. She describes herself as having been the typical Jamaican high school student who did the academic subjects that she was expected to do. However, in sixth form, she was faced with a dilemma to sit the A Level examination in Physics or French. The decision she made was the catalyst of a changed and empowered life. She chose French. Little did she know how much her love for French was going to open doors of opportunities for her throughout her career.
She taught Physics for one school year at her Alma Mata, Campion College after graduating from Stanford University in California. Camille then migrated to the U.S for a while where she was noticed by the Kaiser Bauxite Company of Jamaica. After interviewing successfully 3 times, Camille was offered positions at three different overseas locations. After deliberations, she chose to move to their Louisiana plant as a Process Engineer.
Camille the Professional
At present, Camille works with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) in Decatur, Illinois and she is Vice President, Global Procurement. Under her charge she develops and executes supply management strategy across the enterprise. Prior to joining ADM, Batiste spent 20 years at Honeywell International and had several leadership roles. Camille animatedly shared nuggets with Good News Jamaica on how her career was built. She is quoted saying, “I realized that success comes from a diversity of experience—wins and losses, roles I enjoyed immensely, and roles I hated.” She went on to explain that her love for leadership has been based on this diversity and has built her into the leader that she needed, and at times, work with during her career.
Her love for leading, coaching and mentoring the people that she works with. Just as she was provided for along her journey with some great and not so great leaders and mentors, Camille is determined to use her experiences and learning to positively build others. “I need to make sure that I’m providing all of those things that I said I need, I have to make sure I’m providing that to people in my organization. With that said, I’ve not only learned from the good leaders. I’ve also learned from the ones that weren’t so great. They’ve also taught me what not to do. They taught me the way that I feel when this leader does this thing that [does not make me feel good]. This just means that if I do the same thing then my team, and my staff and my organization won’t connect either. So I’ve learned from the good, and I have learn from the bad.”
Camille believes that “Leadership is not a position, it’s a mind set”. She explains further how to find that leader in early stages by paying attention to students in classrooms.
She laughs as she give attributes to the fact of being the 5th of 6 siblings, she would have to fight for place and attention so it might have built the interest in becoming a consummate leader herself. One of the messages that Camille drives is the need to understand that being the person at the top is not always the focus you should have.
This is one reason why Camille is also passionate about developing youths and young professionals so that they don’t have to make the early mistakes that she made.
Camille’s success in her careers is driven by executing some simple principles. These are “Love what you do”, “Everyone is a leader no matter their position, it’s about their mindset to take responsibility”, “Listen to understand, rather than listening to figure out how to respond” and “Build a network of persons that support your dreams as you support their dreams”.
Camille had such great advice about listening we thought you would enjoy reading the entire statement.
By nature I’m very quiet, I’m more of an observer of people and student of people. One of the things that I learned early in my career is that you need to make sure that you listen to understand. For me, there is so much you can gain in a conversation. You really just need to understand the person rather than trying to figure out how to respond. Usually what we do is listen to try to formulate our response. It becomes about us and it’s not about them. But it’s important to understand.
Today, part of what my organization does is to negotiate and the essence of negotiation is exactly that; it’s listening. Understanding what does the other party need. Not so much what they may say that need but listen more to the reason behind the ask. Asking allot of ‘why’ questions to get to the root of what it is that the person is actually saying. The thing to pay attention to with listening is the intention of learning. There are times when we listen with other intents like to win, to respond, etc. But just to sit with someone and say ‘I just wan to learn from you’. That could be a child. It could be a spouse. It could be a team member, especially when you don’t agree. There is a term that I will user when I say, ‘help me understand. Maybe I’m missing something. I want to understand you.’ There is so much that you get out of it when you ask those probing questions that you actually get to the root, and you go ‘Ooooh!!! Okay! I really was way off’.
Take me for instance, my main clients are internal to the organization. I serve them, but in order for me to serve them, I need to know what they need. I need to know what their pain points are. I need to know what their goals are. I need to know what their strategies are. I don’t come to them telling them what my strategy is for them. I need to listen to them to hear what they need and then I can come back with a serving strategy. It’s not to tell them what I’m doing but it’s to communicate that I want to assist them.
My husband taught me that the amount of trust that a person has for another after a conversation, is indirectly related to how much the other person speaks.
How does this Kingston raised, confident and driven Jamaican daughter describe herself? These days, Camille has learnt the benefits of being more relaxed. She focuses her energy on giving advice to young professionals so that they will have a smoother ride than she did. This skill has served to earn her the respect from colleagues and to achieve even greater career success.