While the leaders of Asia Pacific nations have wrapped their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, the people managers in our country held its 49th National Conference here in Cebu. The more than two thousand personnel managers all over the Philippines have just adjourned last night its annual convention at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, after a three-day conference on the theme: “Revolutionizing People Management in the Philippines”. Globally recognized experts on leading and managing people, and famous inspirational speakers from all over the world graced the occasion, coming from Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. The highlight of the conference was the much-awaited proclamation of the personnel managers’ choice of the Most Outstanding Employer of the Year Award of PMAP (People Management Association of the Philippines).
This writer was the chairman of this year’s board of judges and chairman of one of the concurrent sessions on Balancing Corporate Profits and Employee Well-being and Welfare. Out of the 2000 member companies, about 20 were nominated. The Awards Committee of PMAP screened the nominees and shortlisted four finalists, namely: IBM, Nestle, Yazaki-Torres and Meralco. The criteria included, among others, excellence in leadership and people management, outstanding programs in people care and development, successful partnership between management and the employees in achieving outstanding business results, and corporate social responsibility. It was a hotly contested competition because of the prestige that goes with it.
There were two other categories, namely: Personnel Manager of the Year and HR Program of the Year. The jurors include DepEd Sec. Bro Armin Luistro, Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines President Atty. Mike Varela, writer and columnist Francis Kong and a host of former awardees, who represent the best and the brightest among our country’s human resources management experts. It has been a big honor for this columnist to have been chosen as the chairman of the Employer of the Year category, the highest and the most coveted among the three. It was a long and hard process that spanned many weeks of scrutiny, on-site visits, interviews, deliberations and voting that led to the ultimate unanimous choice.
We did our tasks very seriously and objectively, declaring any possible conflict of interests and disqualifying all jurors with possible issues involving conflicts. We examined voluminous documents, made on-site visits, interviewed CEOs, COOs, corporate executives, HR professionals, union leaders and ran-and-file workers. The four finalists were all outstanding in some of the criteria. We were impressed by the strong leadership in Yazaki Torres, their family culture and industrial peace amidst an environment of adversarial labor relations in Laguna. We were also amazed at the employee development programs of Nestle and its heroic efforts in turning around its relationship with its militant unions. IBM’s systems and structures in people management also gave us a lot of reasons to admire its management, led by a Filipina, the first Filipino woman to be appointed President of IBM Philippines.
At the end however, Meralco stood out because of excellence in all of the criteria. It has a very strong and committed leadership that is accessible and hands-on. Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Meralco and Mr. Oscar Reyes, its president, are always seen holding hands with people in all levels of the organization, in good times and in bad. Despite the many firms under MVP like PLDT, Maynilad, and SMART, MVP’s presence is strongly felt and appreciated. We have interviewed him personally and this writer saw much sincerity and passion in his eyes. He walks his talk and keeps his promises. Meralco’s programs for people development are total, integrated, comprehensive and purposive. From physical, intellectual, emotional, cultural and spiritual development, Meralco has all.
Meralco has successfully transformed itself from the highly paternalistic leadership style under the Lopez group, where loyalty was the leading criterion in dealing with employees, into a highly professional and inclusive management style of MVP, where performance is the best ticket to career success. Business results were outstanding and yet, profits were balanced with the welfare and well-being of all its stakeholders. Its corporate social responsibility is not only a PR or “pa pogi points,” they are genuine and authentic. Proven in calamities and disasters, Meralco has truly demonstrated its values of MALASAKIT and being MAKABAYAN. The people in Meralco are bound together by a set of values, a vision and a mission that are truly shared by all.