Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
What does your work entail?
Joanie Ivette: I’m in charge of human resources management and supervision. My tasks include psychological evaluation of skills, capability evaluation, assisting with the recruitment and selection process and corporate training, as well as holding workshops around the country. I also help assess personnel performance and the work environment.
Jan: I am the acting head of the Personnel and Organization Department. Our section employs around 3,000 people and is responsible for providing communication and information systems for the whole Ministry. Besides organizational reform, which is a continuous process, our department has responsibilities for recruitment, advising our line managers on human resource-related rules and regulations, and making sure our 3,000 employees are given appropriate training.
How does your perspective as a Buddhist and an SGI member influence your approach to your work?
related article A Recipe for Happiness by Hsieh Yi Chiang, Taiwan Taiwan Soka Association member Hsieh Yi Chiang looks back on a rocky path to becoming a head chef at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. Joanie Ivette: My Buddhist practice has taught me to cherish each and every person and to challenge myself during both good and bad times. I put a lot of effort into building good working relationships among my team.
Current approaches to human resources management place an emphasis on developing human capital—people—and on talent management. This approach matches my personal convictions, and I can apply these methods and approaches to improve work environments.
Jan: Every day I pray to manifest Buddhahood wherever I go.
When I was out of work for some time, I chanted to find a job which met the three values expressed by second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda: a job I enjoy that would support my life and contribute to society. I love my job, my salary is very nice and I feel I contribute in many ways to the main aims of the Ministry, which include promoting the international rule of law and providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. I also try to contribute through building good relations with the people around me.
What are some of the joys and challenges of your work?
Jan: My biggest joy is that I feel that after a long journey I am in exactly the right place to contribute to society, my clients, my team members and my boss. The biggest challenge is to stay motivated in an environment where it can sometimes take a while to achieve results because of all the procedures in place. I believe dialogue is the key to making things happen.
Joanie Ivette: I’ve learned from my mentor Daisaku Ikeda that youth have a great capacity to contribute to society, and I’m doing my best to achieve that in my job.
As a team member, I do my best to stay in good spirits and always have a smile on my face. I have to challenge myself to be always willing to take on tasks and to stay in high spirits. I try to see the positive in every situation, to be a good listener and friend.
When selecting people for positions, what are some of the key factors that you take into consideration?
Jan: The great thing about a big organization like the Ministry of Defense is that it reflects society. We always try to place the right person in the right place, not only looking at education and experience, but also at specific competencies for different jobs. Naturally, this is to make sure the work gets done, but we also want our employees to be happy in their jobs.
Joanie Ivette: First, I decide which recruitment sources will be used according to which kinds of employees are required. Also, I keep in mind the condition of the labor market. The growing labor market in Peru is very competitive, so this affects the retention level of employees. I evaluate each candidate’s values, level of commitment and human relations skills with a view to reducing the rate of staff turnover and absenteeism, which can have a negative impact on companies.
How do you feel you can best support the employees at your workplace?
Jan: At this point in time, the whole Ministry is subject to reorganization, caused by huge cost-cutting targets. This is a long and difficult process, which puts a lot of strain on everyone.
Every morning I chant to be able to make a difference for the better that day. I pray for my clients, for the members in my team and for the employees. Then, when I enter my workplace, I try to communicate from the heart to everyone around me. And, of course, I make sure my job gets done in the best possible way.
Joanie Ivette: Every time there is a problem or an unexpected situation at work, I try to project composure and optimism and offer solutions and ideas for improvement. I believe dialogue is very important for building trust and a sense of unity.
Working as a psychologist specializing in human behavior in a highly competitive environment has made me stronger. I have learned from President Ikeda that if I hope to create change I must begin with myself, as everything is a reflection of my own life.
What, besides pay, do you think is the most important thing people can derive from their work when there is the right fit between them and their job?
Jan: It goes without saying that without satisfaction and pride any job would be very hard to continue. When you come home with a sense of achievement and joy, everybody around you can benefit.
Joanie Ivette: When a person is in the right job and has the necessary skills, they can develop confidence in their abilities. They are able to discover their real capacity, and value and respect the work of others.
related article Buddhism in Cuba by Joannet Delgado, general director, SGI-Cuba Joannet Delgado, general director of SGI-Cuba, shares her journey of discovering Nichiren Buddhism and how it took root in her country. What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned through your work?
Joanie Ivette: I have been able to hone my ability to understand people, so that I am able to focus on the most important and relevant aspects of a person in the context of work. Another thing that I’ve learned is to always challenge my limits and try to move even one step forward. I feel I’m constantly learning and developing, and I try to generate ideas and propose innovative strategies.
Jan: The greatest lesson I have learned is to be grateful. Work not only enables you to sustain your life, it also provides you with an environment in which you can lead a meaningful life and where you can grow endlessly.
[Courtesy October 2013 SGI Quarterly]
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