Friday, May 3, 2024

PLDT Showcases Lasting Leadership Lessons From the Pandemic in Learning Series

Finding opportunities amid adversity through 'malasakit'--this was among the major lessons highlighted in a recent gathering of PLDT Inc (PLDT) and Smart Communications, Inc (Smart) leaders and employees at the Smart headquarters in Makati.

Sharing their experiences in leading their respective teams through the pandemic, Leah Jimenez, Head of Risk, Privacy, and Insurance Office, and John Palanca, Head of Sales and Development at PLDT and Smart discussed key lessons from the company's pandemic response in the recent Leaders on the Go,  a learning series organized by the People Group of PLDT and its wireless arm Smart.

"Our services were the lifeline of our customers during the pandemic when connectivity was very crucial. Family members used it on-the-go to communicate while buying essentials at a time when mobility was restricted. Students likewise needed connectivity to continue their schooling, while workers needed it to work from home," Palanca recalled. "The whole PLDT and Smart workforce recognized that we needed to keep our products and services available to our customers, despite these restrictions."

This included setting up new touchpoints, such as "houselets" or agents empowered to sell PLDT and Smart products and services in every barangay, rolling stores, virtual counters at PLDT and Smart Stores, and digital marketplaces.

PLDT was also the single biggest recipient of IATF passes at more than 10,000 passes, enabling the Group's sales, marketing, and network personnel to continue working in the field during the lockdowns.

"At the end of the day, it was all about serving our customers and providing them with meaningful connections. That was our commitment--to put our customers at the forefront as our North Star," he added.

But more than ensuring 'business as usual' even in times of disruption, Palanca and Jimenez also underscored the importance of taking care of people as key to delivering leveled-up customer service.

"Productivity actually went up during the height of the pandemic. But the real challenge was in the mental health and wellness of people," said Jimenez.

To help their team cope, Jimenez said they institutionalized regular "kamustahan" (check-ins) sessions to keep members of the team connected to each other, despite having to work remotely. "Especially in teams where members are highly dependent on each other to succeed, the relationships that people build are just as important as the work itself," Jimenez said.

On the other hand, Palanca also emphasized the importance of being able to give the necessary support to frontliners during the pandemic. "Aside from facilitating the government permits, the company also distributed PPEs to ensure the safety of, not just the PLDT and Smart employees but our partners as well," he said.

Jimenez and Palanca also underscored that leadership at a time of crisis requires leaders to strengthen connections and be good listeners.

"As leaders, we must ensure we don't lose our humanity. It's important to connect with each other more and that means being vulnerable to each other. All of us are connected--we must never lose sight of that. And we must strive to make sure we can connect with people better. This requires us to open up and listen, not to respond, but to understand where the other person is coming from," Jimenez said.

"To be a leader amid adversity, you have to listen. You have to be humble enough to listen and learn--you have to be a servant-leader," said Palanca. "Leadership is not just about being in charge. It's also about taking care of those who are in your charge."

“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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