World at work: How a world traveller stays grounded in 2020
By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
As global head of sustainability at Anheuser Busch InBev, Ezgi Barcenas always keeps her eye on the world at large.
Barcenas, based in New York City, until recently was constantly on the road, working with her team to execute the company’s 2025 sustainability strategy, with a focus on agricultural development, climate change and responsible sourcing for a supply chain that spans more than 50 countries.
Her biggest life change this year? Staying home.
“I used to travel internationally 50% of the time and had to remind myself which time zone I’m in,” Barcenas said.
Barcenas took a moment to chat with Reuters about how her international perspective and background are keeping her grounded in these unusual times. Edited excerpts are below.
How did your first job shape you?
I was born and raised in Cyprus. When I was in elementary school, I was one of the co-hosts of a weekly children’s radio program at the public broadcasting station. The show featured children's stories, sketches, fun and educational facts, jokes, riddles, etc. We recited poems, sang songs, and occasionally I'd play the piano in the studio. It made for an entertaining and educational program. I liked how the show’s producers’ world view stretched far beyond the shores of our tiny island, and I remember being inspired by their knowledge of the diversity of cultures, and their vision for future generations. I’ve learned to harness that vision and curiosity we’d bring to our shows to re-imagine a better world and catch opportunities others may miss.
Did you learn any special skills from it?
It was my first public-speaking experience. It helped with my diction, communication style and self-confidence. And we got better over time.As years went on, as a team we moved from scripted, pre-recorded shows to live shows. It required teamwork, discipline, trust, adaptation and agility. Those skills have stayed with me to this date.
What has been your biggest work challenge since the pandemic began?
Two words: remote kindergarten. I’ve been back in the office, but I’m mostly working from home. In a dual-career household with two young kids, we’re trying to adjust to our new normal.
What’s the best piece of job advice you’ve gotten?
To always start from a place of positive and good. And I’ve witnessed first-hand that truly inspiring leaders know how to be a beacon of positivity even in the face of obstacles and uncertainty. It demonstrates resilience and allows your team to feel braver and regain momentum.
What advice do you have for someone starting out right now?
Turn the crisis into opportunity. Be flexible, add to your skill set and network.