The Road to Achievement

BRP’s Giulia Cirillo discusses her role in supporting the RV and powersports company as it builds on its early success

Giulia Cirillo sits astride her favourite BRP product, a Can-Am Spyder RT Limited. Introduced in 2007, the Can-Am Spyder was BRP’s first on-road product, and it’s one of the many offerings that have demonstrated the company’s ability to innovate.

5 Questions
with Giulia Cirillo

What does innovation mean to your company?
Innovation comprises many things—such as making the best product, the most premium-designed product, the most innovative product in terms of what it looks like from the outside as well as what technologies are used on the inside. In addition, innovation means bringing the best talent together and having them work together in leveraging their strengths and ideas.

Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
The simple answer is yes. Obviously, we need to listen, be attentive and sensitive to what is happening in the world in terms of technological trends, whether it’s the automobile industry, the computer industry, or the mobile industry. We need to observe lifestyles and what trends are shaping our society—our consumers in particular.

How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
I simply like to keep on learning. Innovation for me is not just about “What do you invent?” Innovation is also about how I am challenging myself in rethinking what I am doing.

Where do you hope this innovation will lead you in the next five years?
We want to get better and continuously improve all aspects of our business. To do that, we need the best and most adaptable talent, and we need the best systems, all being led by the best strategy as a reminder of our great vision and solid mission keeping us at the forefront.

How has the notion of innovation changed in the past decade?
Although I have been with BRP for only a few years, I feel and I have observed that innovation for us is becoming more and more critical. I think innovation has expanded; it’s cross-functional, it’s cross-borders, and it’s cross-skill-sets.”

The year 2013 turned out to be a big one for BRP. The Valcourt, Québec-based recreational-vehicle and powersports-engine designer and manufacturer celebrated its 10th anniversary and became a publicly traded company, and its leaders raised a figurative glass to more decades as successful as its first. Giulia Cirillo, BRP’s senior vice president of global human resources, health, safety, and security, is one of the executives determined to make sure the business keeps building on its progress, and she’s using forward-thinking oversight to manage such key company components as employee relations and talent management in order to help define the strategy, road map, and vision for the organization overall.

“I always like to think about how we can do things differently, more efficiently, and effectively, and of course innovation is all part of that,” Cirillo says. “My role as an executive of the organization is to question things. I like to say that the status quo is not an option, and therefore I try to continuously focus on raising our game.”

When Cirillo started at BRP in 2011, she immediately sensed the passion the company’s employees have for what they do. Everyone takes pride in their work, and they always try to push the envelope. “Whether we’re designing a new concept for a new product or engineering a new engine for the future or assembling our products, the team members are focused on the product the consumer wants,” she says. “Their energy is concerted at thinking, ‘Is this innovative enough? Are we keeping at the forefront?’ And it’s contagious, simply a magnetic force.”

The positivity in the work environment trickles down from the members of the company’s strong leadership team, who believe in being transparent when it comes to cascading, mobilizing, and communicating key messages to employees worldwide. “Whether you’re an operator on the shop floor, an accountant, or a designer, it’s important that we’re all connected directly to the vision and mission of our organization,” Cirillo says. “We share the good and the difficult with our people. We’re open about maintaining our values, respect, and integrity in everything we do, and we always focus on managing our people well in everything we do, through good times and tough times.”

Embracing progressive thinking in her own department, Cirillo began an assessment of BRP’s human resources worldwide soon after she started in order to improve and optimize the company’s processes and capabilities in the area. As a first step, she pushed her team members to get involved and encouraged them to embrace being part of the change by having them handle particular HR assessments of their own. “As a leader, it is empowering to give your team members—who may have been initially in the background—an opportunity to step forward and say, ‘We’re going to manage the change.’”

The newfound confidence that Cirillo helped instill in her team has led it to form the HR Reinvention strategic initiative. This initiative is about human resources assessing how it performs activities and what needs to be changed or improved in order to harmonize and standardize consistent global processes and adapt them to specific regions as well.

“For me, innovation is about the products we produce, the processes we develop, and how we work together as a team; it’s about how we develop talent and create an integrated cultural workforce,” Cirillo says. “It’s [also] about the work environment we foster and how we manage the multiple generations and deal with our people; it’s about how we keep an open mind, adopt change, and continuously learn. We reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow than today and yesterday, to learn from the past and improve in our future. It’s about not relying on our strengths of yesterday to pursue tomorrow.”