“Making her mark.”
Promoting participative leadership, Palacios-style.
Lexmark is a recognized world leader in innovative imaging, output technology solutions and managed print services. The brand combines powerful imaging technology ownership, industry expertise and customer engagement to deliver solutions to diverse industries such as retail, financial service, healthcare, manufacturing, education, and government. Its distribution spans across 170 countries.
Lexmark Research and Development Corporation (Lexmark Cebu) was established in 2001 as the base of Lexmark research and development and shared services operations in the Asia Pacific region. In May 2018, Lexmark’s corporate re-alignment resulted in the consolidation of the shared service centers in Cebu and Budapest. This corporate streamlining resulted in the formation of the Global Business Services (GBS) in Cebu. Lexmark’s Cebu Competence Center (CCC) was established to manage process requests and global end-to-end processes. This initiative achieved significant improvements for the company and earned a Silver Award for Best Shared Services team in Asia at the SSON Asia Impact Awards 2019. Under Elena Palacios’ leadership, the company successfully transitioned from Asia’s top ten traditional shared service company models to a Global Business Service organization.
Palacios holds a double Master’s degree in the field of Analytical chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, and Business Administration from the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración in Caracas, Venezuela. Being a firm believer of staff’s career development, Palacios has driven Lexmark’s CCC to successfully roll out an Employee Development Series to help employees achieve their professional and personal goals. This has resulted in very positive staff retention rates. In 2019, CCC registered a record-low attrition rate of 11.94 percent and a 9.18 percent attrition for its R&D division. This is a significant achievement when industry standards average between 18 to 21 percent.
In 2019, With CCC’s mission to collaborate with different functional areas and influence them to use continuous improvement methodologies, systems and tools to reduce non-value adding activities and increase the value of CCC’s services to the customer, the 2019 Eureka Awards, a continuous improvement project recognition initiative, generated a total of 162 closed projects and a cost savings of almost US$ 224,900.
CCC recognizes Cebu City’s potential for information and communication technology development. It actively collaborates with the local ICT industry and various Chambers of Commerce to raise awareness through linkage programs to equip the locals with the knowledge and skills to support this industry.
The gutsy executive has braved rough seas over the last four years. She’s sailed through Lexmark’s rebranding exercise, strategic alternatives announcements, resignations of CEOs, and corporate resizing, holding her ship steady with the philosophy that as a forward-moving leader, she has to keep a ‘business as usual’ attitude. She values her switch from research development to industrial engineering as it has shaped her flexibility to master another discipline. This enables her to respond quickly to the unique challenges and opportunities she has faced. In addition to regular and consistent communication with her team, strong leadership integrity and unerring commitment, she attributes her success to her world‐class, talented workforce.
When asked her perspective on being a woman in leadership, she said, “In a still very hyper masculine world, being a woman leader means we need to work harder to make our voice heard. But through the years, I have looked into this as an opportunity to promote strengths of female leadership participative style, diversity and inclusion. I believe that when you can be yourself at work, you can be more productive.”
Being a female is not a setback. Rather, she embraces her feminine leadership style, firmly holding on to the belief that, “In the twenty-first century, a good leader should also promote diversity and equality, while constantly building relationships and taking smart risks.”
“Lexmark CCC’s impressive staff retention bears testament to the high employee satisfaction and trust in its leadership. Further testimony to Palacios’ leadership is the fact that 85 percent of their open management positions are filled by its existing employees”.
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group
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