A new book released in the Philippines tackles leadership skills women should develop. 5 Leadership Essentials for Women compiled by Linda Clark (distributed by OMF Literature Inc.) was written by women in leadership roles with fellow women in mind. According to the book, these are the five skills women need to hone: 1. Communication 2. Relationship 3. Time management 4. Group building 5. Conflict management One aspect of good communication is effective listening. To do so, Dr. Harriet Harral, a communications professional and the writer of the chapter on communication, says one should take out the barriers to effective listening: focus on self, wandering mind, leveling (simplifying the message to the point that critical details may be omitted), sharpening (emphasizing some points leaving out other important details), assimilation (shaping messages to confirm our opinions or attitudes), hearing what is expected that your mind is not open, passive listening, and missing the meaning. A relationship, to be healthy, needs three elements, according to psychologist Roberta M. Damon: mutuality, initiative and respect. “On a human level, there is no perfect relationship, but good, solid healthy relationships do exist,” she writes in the relationship chapter. In the chapter on time management, pastor's wife and educator Debbie Lloyd has advice for women who find themselves suffering from the pinball syndrome—when they bounce from task to task leading to unfinished projects: Have a schedule, have a system, and keep it simple. Dr. Judy Hamlin, author and ministry consultant, lists down the attributes of a healthy group and shares “prescription” for groups that want to be healthy. Lastly, Dr. Shirley Schooley, university professor and pastor's wife, takes us through the stages groups go through from forming to performing and imparts strategies on dealing with conflict that may come. Full of tips and examples both from the Bible and from everyday life, the book can be helpful to women in various leadership positions—at work, in business, in church, and in organizational settings.
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THE RECENT survey on corruption in Asia released by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) places the Philippines as the sixth most corrupt country in Asia in 2008. This is already a marked improvement from the country’s performance in 2007 when it was ranked the most corrupt country in the region then. Bagging the title in 2008 is Indonesia, followed by Thailand, Cambodia, India and Vietnam. Perceived least corrupt in the region is Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, then Australia. (See story here.) I first witnessed corruption as a young girl when I saw a jeepney driver slipping a P20 bill in between his driver’s license and LTO registration official receipt and handing this over to a policeman apprehending him in one of the major thoroughfares of Quezon City. When the policeman handed back his license and the jeep sped off, the driver chuckled and boasted to us passengers how he got away with just a P20 bill. Small time indeed. Corruption, though, pervades almost every area, including the business world. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, in a speech delivered during the recent Leadership Conference Series 2 presented by De La Salle University, PLDT-Smart Foundation, and Smart Infinity at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, cited the results of the Social Weather Stations Survey of Enterprises on Corruption conducted from September 9 to October 10, 2008. In this survey, Panganiban said, “a staggering 71 percent said they had been blatantly asked for bribes in connection with their dealings with government, like when they secured business permits, paid customs duties and income taxes, supplied the government with goods and services, or availed of government incentives.” Today, we are seeing more people calling for and practicing integrity in the government and in business. During his term, Panganiban called on 2,000 justices and judges to adhere to four core values: independence, integrity, industry and intelligence. “From the 26,000 judicial employees, I pleaded for ‘DHL’: Dedication to duty, Honesty in every way and Loyalty to the Supreme Court. And from the 45,000 lawyers, I called for ‘EC’: Ethics and Competence. Finally, I asked all these sectors to help reform the judiciary by fighting the ‘ACID’ problems that corrode justice: limited Access to justice by the poor, Corruption, Incompetence and Delay in the delivery of quality judgments,” remarked Panganiban in the same speech. There is hope in business as well. Panganiban further told the story of how PLDT chair Manny Pangilinan, on his second day, ordered that a briefcase full of cash representing his share of the commissions in the company’s advertising placements be deposited officially in the bank’s accounts. Can corruption ever be eradicated in our country? The task may be enormous, but little steps like these count. If we were able to improve our standing on Asia’s most corrupt list from first to sixth in one year, we can do more in the coming years.
TONY Blair knows what he is talking about. As prime minister of the United Kingdom for 10 years (assuming the office at the young age of 43), Blair knew what it was to lead a nation. Now envoy of the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, the United States and Russia) to the Middle East, Blair has become an expert in negotiation too, such that president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants him to help out in achieving peace in Mindanao. So everyone at Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s Harbor Garden Tent last Monday afternoon for the Leadership Conference Series 2 presented by De La Salle University, PLDT-Smart Foundation, and Smart Infinity, was all ears as Blair shared the lessons he learned as a leader. Although he learned these while serving in the government, these lessons can also apply to people in the business world. 1. If you want to change the world, you have to understand it. If you want to understand the world, analyze how it is, not how you want it to be. “The world moves and moves fast. We live in an era of low predictability,” says Blair. 2. In a fast-changing world, companies, countries, and people must change. “Change is one of the toughest things to do. People like change in general but not in particular. Once you make change, it’s always difficult,” he says. Even in business, “we have to adjust, prepare for a state of perpetual revolution.” 3. Stand up and take decisions. “If you want to be popular, don’t take the leadership road,” he advises. 4. Try even if you don’t always succeed. “What is forgivable is to fail. What is unforgivable is not to try. Be prepared in a state of leadership to get knocked back. Sometimes challenges are too big,” he adds. Later on, Blair says, “Every leader has a day when things go wrong. Learn a bit of humility as a leader.” So when does one become a leader? “When you feel such a compelling motivation to get something done and you’re prepared to put caution aside. Don’t lead for the sake of leading. Lead because you want to get something done,” says Blair.
YES YOU read it right. The level of outsourcing to the Philippines is growing faster than in any other country, according to the Global Outsourcing Statistics Report released last December 15 by oDesk, the leading marketplace for online workteams for employers outsourcing technology jobs to certified, freelance developers and programmers. The report also states that the Philippines remains a popular destination for outsourcing work. Other popular countries include the U.S., India, Pakistan, Canada, Ukraine, and Russia. The bulk of the outsourcing jobs received by the Philippines is in the Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (KPO) sector. This includes data entry and virtual assistants. India’s largest work category, on the other hand, is in the software and web development field. The report also divulged that the Philippines’ average feedback rating surpassed the oDesk average for the first time. The U.S. has the highest average feedback rating and the greatest number of providers. Here are statistics from the report: CANADA Total Number of Providers: 3,581 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $19.60 Average Feedback Score: 4.32 (out of 5.00) INDIA Total Number of Providers: 27,454 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $12.52 Average Feedback Score: 4.01 PAKISTAN Total Number of Providers: 5,960 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $11.13 Average Feedback Score: 4.36 PHILIPPINES Total Number of Providers: 17,213 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $6.33 Average Feedback Score: 4.30 RUSSIA Total Number of Providers: 2,721 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $16.86 Average Feedback Score: 4.31 UKRAINE Total Number of Providers: 2,929 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $15.96 Average Feedback Score: 4.36 USA Total Number of Providers: 52,637 Average Hourly Rate Charge: $18.32 Average Feedback Score: 4.40 Noticed something? The Philippines has the lowest average hourly rate charge. Good work at cheaper rates—no wonder we’re so popular. :) The report can be accessed here.
IN 2007, when real estate businesswoman Melesa “Elsie” Chua went on a trade mission in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman), she was struck at how overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) did not have confidence in the Philippines. Worse, they did not plan for their lives back home once their contracts expire, which they should since GCC countries do not grant citizenship to foreigners. “The challenge was not in selling homes and properties, but in orienting them to believe in the Philippines again, and teaching them how to save and invest,” says Elsie, president and CEO of CDC Holdings Inc. She also learned that a lot of OFWs who have worked for more than 20 years abroad have not even purchased a home. The remittances would be spent by their families back in the Philippines for their wants and needs. “They felt na kinakatasan lang sila, thus the term ‘katas ng Saudi,’” relates Elsie. OFWs also thought that they needed to have P1 million on hand to be able to buy a new home. Elsie thus decided to focus on this niche market, the first time home buyers among OFWs in GCC. “Understanding our market’s needs, we developed properties that are of superior quality but suitable to their budget. For as low as P1 million spread over a term through Pag-Ibig, our OFWs can acquire new homes that are conducive for new families and first-time home owners,” adds Elsie. Under the setup, Pag-Ibig can finance up to 90 percent of the contract price, and OFWs need only to pay about P8,000 monthly, so the homes really become attainable. These developments include Manila Rivercity Residences in Sta. Ana, Manila, and Lions Park Residences in Parañaque, both condominiums. Also being marketed are Crisanta Villas, a townhouse project in Cainta, and La Joya de Sta. Rosa in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which offers single detached units. OFWs can own a home of their own from as low as P950T for a studio and up to P2.5 million for a townhouse. Interestingly, most buyers go for the condos. CDC Holdings is not new to tapping the OFW market. Back in 1992, the company started offering Philippine real estate projects to OFWs based in Japan. This was extended to OFWs in Asia Pacific and Europe in succeeding years. But they have never thought of zeroing in on OFWs in the Middle East because it was widely thought that they did not have the earning capability and the spending potential of OFWs in First World countries. During that visit to GCC in 2007, Elsie saw how progressive the countries were. “Opportunities for business and Filipino professionals abound in the food and service industries. Filipinos contributed to the growth and development of GCC,” adds Elsie. She also noted that OFWs in the region have a lot of disposable income as luxuries and vices are limited and their incomes are exempt from tax. According to Charlene Chua, vice president for sales and marketing of CDC Holdings, and daughter of Elsie, based on statistics gathered from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, over 2 million or 25 percent of OFWs are in the GCC countries. Last year, they accounted for over US$2B or 15 percent of the total remittances made. Over a million OFWs are in Saudi Arabia, and more than 500,000 are in the United Arab Emirates. Since they are not to be granted residency by the countries they are in, most of these OFWs will go home in the future. It thus makes sense for them to invest in a home of their own. To make it easier for CDC Holdings to reach its target market, it set up offices in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and in Doha, Qatar. “We learned that our OFWs were traumatized with their experience with other real estate companies. Once the initial reservation fee was paid, no follow through was made afterwards. We want to make our OFWs feel at ease with buying their homes, and guide them every step of the way. That’s why we thought our presence was needed there at GCC,” explains Elsie. CDC Holdings also entered into a tie-up with the Arab National Bank to raffle off two house and lot packages to OFWs to increase awareness about the company and its real estate projects. It also made it possible for buyers to pay through local banks RCBC, BPI, PNB and through their foreign tie-ups with banks abroad. Last year, CDC Holdings reported P500M in sales. This year, according to Charlene, they are targeting P1 billion, of which 70 percent has already been attained this November. “We’re expecting to hit our target by the end of the year. This is our peak season as OFWs are on their way back to the Philippines for a vacation,” says Charlene. In spite of the economic downturn worldwide, Charlene says they have not experienced a slowdown in sales. “It’s getting even stronger. OFWs have been awakened to the fact that they can invest.” Next year, the company is targeting sales of P1.5 billion as new developments will be started in and outside Metro Manila, including Cebu, Iloilo, and some provinces in Mindanao. Satellite offices will be opened in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. To finance these, CDC Holdings will increase its capitalization to P500M next year. “We acknowledge the contribution of our OFWs in keeping our economy afloat in this time of financial crisis. As they are integral to the development in GCC, they are also the cornerstone to our progress as a nation,” says Elsie. “We will work as hard in giving them their dream homes, and as conscientious in giving them a bright future once they settle back in the country. Overall, I believe that government and business should consolidate all efforts to protect, care, and secure the future of OFWs who have sacrificed for their families and for the country.”
AT 50, while other people her age would be at the top of their game in their chosen career, Fil-Am Diana Limjoco ventured into the unknown. It was 1998 then, and web development was something new. But there was something about it that interested Diana since her friend, out of frustration, sat her down and forced her to learn web design from him in two hours. Her friend was frustrated that Diana lacked the interest to exhibit her photographs at art galleries. Diana was a professional photographer then. Since that lesson, Diana was hooked. She first made a website about her family, the Limjocos. Then she made a site for her town, Mt. Shasta in California, pro bono as a form of public service. More websites followed, such as www.batangasnow.com, a website showcasing the beauty of Batangas, her home province. Then in 2002, she went into e-commerce by helping her friend Dave Dewbre sell products online. With Diana’s SEO skills, the site became number 1 in all keyword categories within one week, and generated 1,500 in orders in one day. Today, Diana and Dave run Digital Web Group, Inc. which builds and maintains websites, and provides e-commerce support and web hosting, among other things. They also run successful retail stores and eBay auction stores. They are also establishing a partnership with a Filipino entrepreneur who sells environment-friendly electric motor bikes. Diana is the president and CFO of the company. Diana relocated to the Philippines a few years ago. Last November 7, GoNegosyo named her Most Inspiring Entrepreneur for MicroBusiness for the province of Batangas. The award was given by Batangas governor Vilma Santos and Mayor Dimacuha at ceremonies held at the Batangas Provincial Auditorium. Diana acknowledges that she was a late bloomer in engaging in online entrepreneurship. She is now 60 years old, but is still going strong and successful in her business endeavors. Asked what she can advise young and aspiring entrepreneurs, Diana says: “The best advice I can give is not to give up, and to believe in what you are doing. If you can make money doing something you love, all the better. Get the right team together that you do not have to micromanage to help with your growth. The idea of ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ is perhaps for carpenters, not for trying to grow a sustainable business venture that will last beyond you. If you create an organization and it folds after you are gone, then you have failed to empower people to carry on after you, which is of course my goal in all things I do.” Diana is now in the process of creating a mentor program for the Digital Web Group. This will pave the way for young entrepreneurs online. She also started Powerlinked, a network community for entrepreneurs, to help guide new entrepreneurs in their business journey. Photo above shows Congressman Nicanor Briones, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, and online entrepreneur and GoNegosyo Awardee Diana Limjoco.
I WAS astounded as my friend almost cried over the phone a couple of weeks ago. She is the head of a trading company in Manila and just discovered that her most trusted assistant had been taking money from the company for the past six or so months. The amount: over P1 million already. And it all happened right under her nose. My friend is a kind person and trusted her assistant greatly. Whenever she had to go out of the country or out of town, which happens at least once or twice a month, her assistant would oversee the day-to-day operations of the company. This assistant has been with the company for over two years already and has shown herself to be reliable. She had great administrative skills. When the bank the company used to do business with merged with a bigger bank, that’s when trouble started. Payroll, which used to be given out through employees’ ATMs, had to be done by check voucher. My busy friend would sign the vouchers presented by her manager. Little did she know that her manager had been padding up the payroll check and pocketing some of the money. I was sad that this had to happen. But it has happened all too often already. Within the past two years, I know two people, both CEOs of their companies, who also fell victim to this kind of scam done by their very own assistants right under their noses. In one case, the amount added up to P5 million, and the money used by the assistant to buy a parcel of land in the province. Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the book 9 Things a Leader Must Do, confesses to having faced a similar trial. “An employee of mine had horribly mismanaged the company I owned while concealing from me the mounting debt his failures had cause,” Dr. Cloud writes. When he related the bad news to his business mentor, this man readily admitted to having been there too. His mentor said, “Anyone who builds something gets duped or fooled or surprised at least once. We have all had this experience where we don’t know the next step or how to get out of trouble. But I’m confident that you’ll figure it out. In fact, this is when you are at your best.” Everyone goes through some sort of failure and mistake in business. The successful leader accepts this and moves on. Dr. Cloud adds: “Déjà vu leaders…are not surprised that they make mistakes; as a result, they can identify with others who do, give to them, and not judge them or wrongly judge themselves.” So, bad things happen. But we can all learn from them. For starters, make sure internal controls are tight. Next, arm yourself with knowledge. My friend, for instance, is planning to attend the next Accounting for Non Accountants seminar at a university nearby.
THE BUSINESS community is abuzz with the news that the search for this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Philippines is on. Nominations are now being accepted and will be facilitated by SGV Foundation, Inc. Nomination forms can be downloaded here . The award is given by the accounting firm Ernst & Young. Past winners include National Bookstore’s Socorro Ramos, Jollibee Foods Corporation’s Tony Tan Caktiong, Alaska Milk’s Wilfred Steven Uytengsu Jr., Cebu Air’s Lance Gokongwei and Senen Bacani of La Frutera Inc. I've met Mrs. Socorro Ramos, fondly called Nanay Coring by everyone, before for a profile for Good Housekeeping Philippines. She was then 83 and was rushing from one meeting to another. It was then almost 3 p.m. and she hadn't had lunch, thus she urged me to join her for some pancit and barbeque. Nanay Coring works more than 8 hours a day six days a week overseeing the operations of National Bookstore. She says, "If you have the love and passion for what you do, hard work is no longer a sacrifice but a joy. I love this business. Eighty-three na ako pero takbo pa rin ako ng takbo. And you have to be humble. To be a successful tindera, kailangan mas mababa ka sa customer. Give them what they are looking for at the lowest price possible." All the previous winners have that same passion for their work. So who could be the next winner? All Filipino entrepreneurs with businesses operating for at least two years are qualified to be nominated for the prestigious award, as long as they are primarily responsible for their business’s performance. There are five categories: 1. Master Entrepreneur 2. Small Business Entrepreneur 3. Social Entrepreneur 4. Industry-specific Entrepreneur (manufacturing sector) 5. Woman Entrepreneur Anyone associated with a successful entrepreneur can nominate him for the award; you can even nominate yourself. Nominees will be judged in the following areas: growth in turnover, profit, and employee number; degree of innovation; development of creative and ingenious production; marketing and selling techniques, and; extent of expansion into local and international markets. The top winner will represent the Philippines in the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards to be held in Monaco in 2009. Tony Tan Caktiong bested entrepreneurs worldwide for the World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2004.
Cristyl Mae B. Senajon* We all dream of a Philippines without corruption, where people pay taxes without being goaded to do it, where officials use public funds for public good, where deeply ingrained respect for others make most traffic rules unnecessary, and where each child can get quality education that will give her plenty of job options and good pay. Mary Ann Alampay, a 20-year old BS Management student from the Ateneo de Manila University, believes in this dream. How to reach it, however, was the big puzzle. Perhaps it was her love for teaching or her hope for the Filipino child that pointed her to a direction that might change a nation. Mian to her family and friends sat herself one Saturday afternoon and poured her heart out on pen and paper. The result was Bright Kids Learning Center, a social entrepreneurship project that would teach underprivileged children for free that art, colors, counting, and reading are as much fun as showing empathy and respect for others. Bright Kids won a P20,000 grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation during the First Leaders of Asia Forum’s Make It Happen! Business Plan Writing Competition last January 17-19, 2008 along with five other business plans. College friends Kookie Magno (AB-Psychology) and Mark Carillo (BS-Management) who are also now in their senior year are helping her turn her dreams into reality. Last summer, they taught five and six-year-olds at the Batasan Hills Elementary School for one hour and a half each day.
“Sometimes it takes just one simple step for something great to happen. I think that sometimes you have to take risks. You can't just live your life in your own comfort zone. Nothing will ever happen if you live that way. If you want to do something for the country then find a way to do it. It's that simple," Mian says.Mian recalls spending long hours with a young girl who told her classmates their work was ugly and they were stupid because of the way they colored their artwork. "Values should be taught to a kid at a very young age or else they will bring those bad habits with them when they grow up. It was fortunate that we were able to address this issue as early as that time. But how about other kids who grow up in the same kind of environment? It is really important to be involved in the formation of these children so that they would not grow up with a wrong set of values," Mian says. The lack of early education is the kind of social problem that Bright Kids is trying to address. “I saw that the family has a big influence on the learning and value formation of the children” says Mian. While doing craft work to create nimble fingers and nimble minds, Mian teaches basic Filipino values such as "po" and "opo". The idea is that the path to attaining national growth is for each Filipino to learn to show empathy towards “kapwa Pilipino” and that simple acts of humanity can cure a flawed nation so mired in poverty. Working with children that only have rice and ketchup for breakfast has opened Mian's eyes to reality and closed her heart to apathy. Her first summer art workshop this year was where her dream ended and the glorious part of action began. *Cristyl is program assistant of the Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program at the Ateneo School of Government. For those who wish to learn more about social entrepreneurship and how to become an effective social entrepreneur, the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government together with Ashoka-Philippines will be running Beyond Bottomlines: An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship this coming July 12,2008 (Saturday), 8 am to 5 pm at the Ateneo de Manila-Professional Schools campus in Rockwell, Makati City. If you are interested to attend this seminar, you can send an email to youthventureph (at) gmail (dot) com or contact Katrina Wy at (02) 683-0262 local 141.
THERE comes a time in any organization when change needs to happen fast for the company to progress. A good effective leader can bring about change well. “One man’s or woman’s idea can bring about change,” said Maria Ressa, head of news and current affairs of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, and managing director of ANC. For instance, Lee Kuan Yew, she said, took a backwater nation and turned it into the first world country we now know as Singapore. At the Women to Women Mentoring Conference at the Philippine Trade Training Center held last April, Ressa revealed that she had to catalyze change in ABS-CBN upon joining the broadcast company in 2005. Their news programs were overtaken by those of GMA in the ratings game. And she felt the company had to emphasize its core values of transparency, accountability and consistency for it to come out on top. We have all heard of the reorganization that happened when she came on board. Veteran journalists and even vice presidents were given the pink slips as the company streamlined its operations to cut costs. She was one unpopular figure back then, to say the least. Looking back now, Ressa, who was with CNN for a long time as bureau chief, revealed the steps she took in bringing change to ABS-CBN. She said these eight steps are not original, as she learned it from Harvard Review, but I must say, they could work in any organization. Here they are: 1. Establish a sense of urgency. People will be more willing to change if they understand the need for it. Identify your crisis points. Crisis can mean danger or opportunity. Determine what you must address. 2. Form a guiding powerful organization. You’ll need lieutenants to ensure the job is done. In Ressa’s case, her “lieutenants” are veteran journalists Marites Vitug, now head of the online operations, and Glenda Gloria, now COO of ANC. 3. Create a vision. You can’t lead if you don’t know where you’re headed. At ABS-CBN News where there are 1,000 people, it was imperative that they make a standard and ethics manual. “Our vision is summarized as follows: Excellent journalism to make the world a better place,” said Ressa. 4. Communicate the vision. Ressa had to go where the people went, even drank with them to talk to them (in Filipino even). 5. Empower others to create the vision. She got rid of hierarchies and titles at the broadcasting company, saying TV is a team effort. 6. Plan for and create short-term wins. Celebrate wins with the guys. In her case, they celebrated ANC’s brand new look and ABS-CBN’s improving ratings. 7. Consolidate improvements. Produce still more change. 8. Institutionalize the new approaches. Articulate connections between new individual behavior and the corporate results it brings. Start creating a succession plan. Instituting change is a real challenge, but the effective and capable leader can handle it well.