AE Team | January 10, 2019
The Don Ramon Aboitiz Award of Excellence (DRAAE) is as much a symbol of achievement as it is a celebration of the diverse and multifaceted group of A-People who exceed the boundaries of expectation, no matter where they are in the organization. For Atty. Michael Hosillos, SN Aboitiz Power’s (SNAP) VP Chief Corporate Services Officer, winning the Aboitiz Group’s highest and most distinguished recognition is a testament to the work of a team dedicated to its values that live through stakeholder engagement and corporate social responsibility.
Atty. Mike’s leadership has been a vital element in building SNAP as a valued partner of its host communities, allowing it to operate with the ease alongside the visible development and progress. As one of the pillars in the organization, he remains instrumental in setting the company’s culture and work environment through integrity and courageous authenticity. Let us get to know the latest DRAAE awardee through his own words and from the sentiment of colleagues whom he has inspired over the years.
What do you think sets SNAP apart from other companies?
There is always a sense that we care for each other and what our organization stands for. Our values of integrity, safety, social responsibility, innovation, teamwork, and excellence are not just words in a piece of paper or bullets in a PowerPoint. You can see each and every member of the SNAP family live these values every day in whatever they do because we know that when everyone lives our values, we can rely on one another to accomplish goals or solve problems. Values keep us together and keep our organization focused on doing responsible and sustainable business. Our culture and values drive us to achieve great things together and motivate us to dream bigger for our organization, our stakeholders and our shareholders.
There is a saying that in SNAP, we work hard and we play even harder but I think what made me stay all these years is that I am able to live and realize my passion for being of service to our communities and stakeholders. There is a great sense of pride in knowing that our organization directly impacts peoples’ lives when we operate responsibly, help our communities and provide opportunities. This is what I love most in SNAP. As they say, when you love what you do it is no longer work but living your passion.
What is an important lesson you’ve learned as Chief Corporate Services Officer?
When I started, I heard our CEO always say that we only commit to what we can deliver and we will always deliver on our commitment. I think this is integrity in action. There are no ifs and buts in SNAP. When we say something, it is as good as done (or not done). That is how committed we are. Knowing this, I learned that even the most complex and complicated challenges can be simplified if we remain focused and true to what we stand for and what we can do. This creates a great deal of stability and predictability for our team members and stakeholders. The key to fulfilling our motto is our people who remain steadfast on always delivering on our commitments. Our people are our number one asset and they make SNAP what it is: a truly responsible and sustainable company.
How would you describe the people you work within the company?
You can see the result of their passion and pride in what SNAP have accomplished to date. Their passion for their work and what our company stands for drives us to accomplish great things and allows us to dream even bigger. Our team members will always go the extra mile, will always do what is right, and will always deliver on their commitments.
What inspires you to fulfill your everyday tasks? What do you think about before starting your workday?
Knowing that each day is an opportunity to make a difference.
When I started in SNAP ten years ago, our communities are some of the poorest even though they have been hosting hydroelectric facilities for decades. But when SNAP started operating these facilities and fulfilling our commitment to help our communities in their development, you can see a marked change. Roads were built, schools were improved, livelihoods were created and opportunities were opened and are still being opened.
Though I know that this is not entirely due to SNAP, I still relish the thought that in our own little way we have helped our communities in their development. When we engage our stakeholders we get a sense that they now believe they can achieve progress for their constituents. I think this is the essence of what we do: to enable our communities to help themselves.
So when I get up in the morning and go to work, I don’t only think about what to eat for lunch at noontime, I also think about what we can do next to help our communities.
What do you think are the values you have as an individual that aligns well with SNAP’s vision and values?
I think it’s the other way around. Over the years it is me who try to align to SNAP’s values because it works. These values made me achieve the things I accomplished so far. It made me relate well with my colleagues and our stakeholders. Most importantly, it allows me to live my passion to be of service to others.
Share an example of a time you were proud that you gave your best.
When we received our registration as a Renewable Energy developer, we needed to inform our host LGUs of the change in the amount and manner of receiving their local government share (formerly national wealth tax). We anticipate that the significant reduction on their share (about 80%) will result in the loss or delay of some development projects for the year and the succeeding years.
The management team led by Joseph deliberated on the risks and mitigation measures on the very significant change. As a member of the Mancom, I shared my perspective on the issue. So did the other members of the Mancom who shared their insights, experience, and expertise. The resulting discussion was robust and comprehensive. The solution we arrived at was consistent with our mission and values to help in the development of our communities.
Being part of the deliberations that day made me feel proud to be a member of the SNAP Mancom. I felt that I’m part of a team who truly and sincerely try to balance our business objectives with the long-term viability of our communities. Though CSR is under my portfolio, it was the entire Mancom who acted as the conscience of SNAP. They chose to uphold our commitment with our communities rather than just leave them on their own. I can say that WE were able to give our best that day.
What was your biggest challenge at work and how were you able to overcome it?
It is difficult to be away from my family often due to work. My work requires that I travel to the sites to personally meet stakeholders, manage issues and implement and monitor programs and projects.
When I started in SNAP, my children were very young and I have a newborn. So I made it a point to be back during weekends or for important family events even when it means traveling overnight. When video chat became available, we regularly do video chat every 7 pm in the evening so we can all see each other even when I’m away for work.
Now things are more manageable. Our CSR and ComRel teams are very adept in doing these things. Our site management [personnel] are also all very effective in their stakeholder engagement that most of the issues and concerns are now managed by the sites.
For you, how can SNAP be an instrument to better the lives of people in the host communities where it operates? What examples (projects, initiatives, practices, etc.) could you give to support this?
The taxes we pay are often the most significant source of local revenue to fund development projects. But our local government partners sometimes lack the capabilities to effectively deploy their resources which can result in missed opportunities.
To help our host communities, we initiated the SUCCEED program. SUCCEED means sustaining collaboration and cooperation for execution excellence in development. The program aims to capacitate the local government and indigenous peoples organizations to better plan for and execute development projects by orienting them with the basics of development management.
The core principles of strategic management and planning are taught to the mayors, municipal council, department heads and council of elders. They are then assisted in creating a strategy map complete with a balance scorecard to help them prioritize initiatives. With these, they can now deploy their resources to the most critical programs that will have the greatest development impact.
The program was conceptualized by Vitti Valenzuela, our Senior Manager for CSR and Sustainability, and is facilitated by Professor Edel Guiza, a tenured professor of the Asian Institute of Management and former Secretary for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization. All our immediate host municipalities have taken the course, and we will continue to administer the program to the rest of the 44 host communities of SNAP in Ambuklao, Binga and Benguet and future host communities for our new projects.
By capacitating our host communities on development management, we help them to effectively use their available resources for the most important development challenges in their areas. We enable them to drive their own development.
One word to describe how you felt when you found out you won the DRAAE.
How does the award impact your perspective about your valuable contribution to the Aboitiz Group?
I guess winning DRAAE means we are recognized for what we have done and what we stand for. In my short acknowledgment when I received the award, I have dedicated the award to my SNAP family. My teammates and colleagues equally deserve the award for living our values. I will not be able to do the things I have accomplished or exhibited the traits we are recognized for without them. Responsibility and care for others are in the Aboitiz DNA and I think we are all equally capable of achieving greater things if we put our minds, hearts, and values to it.
As an inspiration for A-People, what is your advice about living the Aboitiz core values in their respective roles?
Be yourself. Strive to be better. Serve others.
Mike was across the table when I first met him in 2007 having worked for the government agency handling the power sector privatization. Even then, I could sense his passion and commitment to his work, engaging various stakeholders and ensuring the integrity of the bidding process. From the boardrooms to town halls, Mike has always been a great partner. In the 7 years I have worked directly with Mike in SNAP, we’ve gone through so many challenging times as well as triumphs together: from land legacy issues with Benguet communities at the start of the Ambuklao-Binga turnover, Typhoon Pepeng, and Magat shutdown due to drought, to the successful rehabilitation of Ambuklao, Binga, and Magat. In all those situations, he carried himself and the company name with dignity and fairness that helped establish for us a reputable name in our host communities and beyond.
Our long drives to the sites then and our food stops are what millennials can probably describe as “epic” – not only because of the amount of time it involved and the food we consumed, but because of the intensity and quality of conversations we had on vision, culture, and engagement. I am truly, truly proud of Mike and his contributions, and look forward to more years for him with SNAP and Aboitiz.
– Manny Rubio, COO, Aboitiz Power
The biggest treat in leading SNAP is working with amazing leaders like Mike Hosillos.
Mike leads our stakeholder engagement and is our face to the LGUs and host communities. His work in this space has been invaluable for SNAP and AP. We enjoy sterling reputations in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, and Ifugao because of the work by Mike and his team. You now see roads, schools, businesses, and thriving economies. These, in turn, have allowed us to enjoy a peaceful environment where we get enviable support for our operations. It validates our operating model and tangibly demonstrates our brand promise of Advancing Business and Communities.
The best example is in Benguet where we acquired the Ambuklao and Binga plants ten years ago. We inherited deep-seated animosity and distrust in the host communities due to the broken promises by previous government administrations and by NAPOCOR. Mike was instrumental in not only rebuilding that relationship but turning it into an asset for SNAP. During our efforts to secure FPIC (Free, Prior, and Informed Consent) with the indigenous peoples (IP) for our Alimit project, one of the leaders from our host community spoke passionately on our behalf. This was instrumental in turning the tide of public opinion and enabling SNAP to secure consensus in Alimit.
I often characterize Mike as SNAP’s moral compass.People take their cues from him because of his charisma and decisiveness. As the leader of CSG, Mike drives his team to deliver beyond their commitments. Mike genuinely cares about each member of his team. He invests time to make sure they have their own development tracks and coaches them as they navigate this journey. Consequently, the CSG team has one of the highest Gallup Engagement scores in SNAP.
It would not be uncommon to see his team work late into the night to deliver initiatives on time. They do this not because they have to… they do this because they believe what they are doing adds tremendous value to SNAP.
To crystallize, I view Mike as a personal role model on many fronts. I study the way he engages LGUs and IP officials. I study how he is able to be firm while being compassionate with people. I look to him as an example of how one should integrate our values into how we do things and conduct ourselves.
I’m sure everyone in SNAP will concur with me that Mike embodies the ideals of the Don Ramon Aboitiz Award for Excellence.
– Joseph Yu, President & CEO, SNAP
I have worked with Mike during the Ambuklao and Binga plants rehabilitation. During that time, we had many issues related to various stakeholders. That was not a surprise, considering the magnitude of the project and given the history of those two plants. But because of Mike’s experience and expertise in managing conflicts, the project team was able to develop and implement resolutions to those conflicts that contributed to the success of the Ambuklao and Binga rehabilitation project.
– Manny Lopez, VP Chief Technology Officer, SNAP
Stakeholder Engagement (SE) is one aspect that either you have what it takes to carry out the plan to achieve your goal or you don’t. Being part of Atty. Mikes team have taught me a lot about SE and I consider him as my mentor and idol in such field. He does not only have the charisma on people but also the ability to say the right words at the right time. I usually hear from our community relations specialist that whenever they are on the field and faced with delicate concern or issue, he can’t help but be amazed on how people listen when it’s Atty. Mike’s turn to talk. Personally, I have observed the same thing.
I believe that because of his transparent way of dealing with stakeholders, he was able to build that kind of relationship with stakeholders where they (the stakeholders) are free to express their view or opinion regardless of the situation without fear of tainting the relationship and vice versa. The company’s mature relationship with its stakeholders is because of the strong that was laid by Atty. Mike. I am proud that I have learned a lot from his mentoring and as proof, I don’t have to run to him for advice unless necessary because he has taught us well on how to engage with a win-win solution always in mind. We’ve learned from him the art of when to give-in and when to be firm with an explanation that will not offend the other party.
Atty. Mike also made sure that the stakeholders understands company processes with no short cuts, hence, whenever we meet with them, they know what to comply with in terms of CSR projects and they know as the consequences whenever they do not submit / conform with requirements.
– Rosalyn White, Plant Support Services Manager, SNAP
I’ve worked with Mike since before SNAP and I couldn’t be any happier for Mike getting this recognition. He was doing stakeholder engagement even before it became a business buzz word, and he is one of the most courageously authentic persons I know. He can lead as much as he can follow, and always strives to strike a good balance between profit and people in facilitating or making business decisions. He encourages diversity of views among his team members but is also never afraid to make a call when needed while always keeping the company values in mind.
– Rhoda Santos, Head of Risk, Strategy, and Performance, SNAP
Atty. Mike raised the bar on CSR and stakeholder engagement in SNAP and the whole Aboitiz group. It is unequaled in the sense that SNAP is being emulated by other business units, and the way we do CSR and SE is being held firm by his vision and ability to inspire his team to make the vision come true. I have worked with Atty Mike for the past 5 years and there is no knowing the depth and breadth of his vision for the company. We are just very privileged to rally behind, learn, and work hand-in-hand with him.
– Vitti Valenzuela, Senior Manager for CSR and Sustainability, SNAP