Thursday, March 14, 2024

Women telco leaders share what malasakit truly means with Leaders on the Go

In a cozy auditorium at Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) headquarters in Makati City, around 50 employees gathered to listen and converse with two women leaders at PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and wireless unit Smart, who made important contributions inspiring change, especially during challenging times. This session marked the return of the face-to-face version of Leaders on the Go, a learning series organized by the People Group of PLDT Group.

PLDT and Smart First Vice President and Head of Network Build, Operations, and Management Debbie Hu underscored the role of the network team during crises. “Whether it be a crisis like typhoons or other problems, we are at the forefront of making things happen for the Filipino people. We are in the right place, right position to make relevant contributions to improve the lives of our Filipinos.”

Being a woman in a male-dominated profession, Hu was not exempted from struggling in her field because of her gender.

“During the earlier part of my career, there was a time when I felt that people had some bias against me, maybe because I was a woman or for any other reason. I went through rigorous training and scrutiny, but I understood that it was all part of the game,” she shared. “But my bosses did not give up on me, they believed in my capability to lead.”


With decades of experience in the telco industry, she also shared the importance of showing malasakit to the team, “even if the odds seem to be against you.”


“There was a time when I was the only senior leader left, with the responsibility to manage junior colleagues. It dawned on me that it’s my responsibility to rally the team, amid the uncertainties, and bring the team towards our goal,” she shared.


Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic became a litmus test for PLDT and Smart Vice President and Head for Consumer Credit and Account Management Di Blanco as an employee and team leader. She shared that they had to proactively make the decision that the company will not cut services at a time the internet became a necessity for Filipinos during the crisis, even before the government made its call.


“I take pride that our group thought of our customers first. That was a strong manifestation of our customer centricity,” Blanco shared.


Despite the difficulty in collections during the pandemic, her group was also able to implement critical changes such as digital billing, deploy quasi-digital payment options for customers in stores through Paybox, and improve customer loyalty.


“That was when I realized that true malasakit is painful. But when you invest in educating our customers, they will adapt to it and support your endeavors,” said Blanco.


Asked what leadership meant to them, the two women leaders shared the same point: it’s all about servant-leadership.


“You serve the people you are working with. Every day, I still see challenges that test my leadership, but being surrounded by the excellent people in my team, I know we’ll be able to achieve our goals,” said Hu.


“Leadership is not about the title nor position. It is about taking care of your people- inspiring and helping them achieve the best version of themselves” said Blanco.


“Leaders on the Go” is a monthly activity to bring leaders closer to employees to share stories and engage in conversations that internalize the PLDT and Smart’s culture and core values and how these help the organization get through challenges and achieve milestones to keep the company sustainably competitive.

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