Without question, Steve Pocock believes that the best teams are the most diverse teams. He’s in a unique position to know and also act, overseeing more than 4,000 employees in 12 countries as our vice president of Architectural Coatings (AC) in the EMEA West and Central region.
Innovation and Service Drive Market Leadership
Steve joined us through our acquisition of Sigma Kalon in 2000. He progressed through a number of commercial roles of increasing responsibility before being appointed general manager of the United Kingdom and Ireland and subsequently EMEA North and China.
Steve currently oversees the largest of the AC EMEA regions in terms of sales and employees and an extensive brand portfolio that includes SIGMA™, JOHNSTONE’S™ and LEYLAND™ paints by PPG. In almost all the markets under his leadership, we hold the number one or two position.
“Our core assets are our people, our brands and our facilities. My job is to make sure we’re maximizing each of these assets and getting everyone aligned behind the common purpose of winning in our markets. We’re only going to win if consumers select our brands from their many choices because we’re innovative and provide the best service.”
A Workforce that Mirrors the Community
Winning in innovation and service requires a diverse team to bring fresh ideas and provide insight on the region’s varying countries and cultures. A product message in one market, for example, may need to be different in another.
While AC EMEA West and Central employees are inherently diverse culturally, Steve’s striving to have a workforce that looks more like the communities that surround our locations.
For much of my early career, I worked on predominantly male teams. When I was given my first general manager assignment, I inherited a leadership team that was 40% female. I remember thinking after my first meeting with this new team that there was something really different about the quality of the conversation. That was my lightbulb moment about the importance of diversity and inclusion.
In his current role, Steve has set a goal to increase female representation on his leadership team and in succession plans. He aims to achieve this primarily by requiring an equal number of female and male candidates for each open position.
“Ultimately, we select the best person for the role, but we have to do that from a balanced candidate slate. We’re taking a similar approach across the region, and I’m seeing far more diverse workforces in our factories and facilities. It’s a long journey, but this change is necessary for us to continue winning.”
The Leader Becomes the Learner
Steve believes leaders are vital in building a more diverse and inclusive workplace. They must understand its importance, keep it on the agenda and model the behaviors. They also have to be open to learning.
“In 2022, I began a reverse mentoring program with one of my team members. Connor, who is 26 years old, is mentoring me on the issues that are important to young people. He’s helping me break some of the myths that I’ve held about his generation and also better understand what people at his career stage need.”
This isn’t the first time Steve has been a mentee. Early in his career, a mentor told him the key to success was rooted in three things – keep it simple, show enthusiasm and be committed. He still follows that success trinity and sees it reflected in his employees.
I have to drive 220 miles to my workplace once a week. Every time I turn into the site, I have a smile on my face. It’s where I meet the most engaged, enthusiastic and committed people. That’s where I draw my energy, as well as seeing our people grow and change so we’re all as successful as we can be.