WE ARE A GROUP WITH A PURPOSE. Aboitiz Group President and CEO Erramon Aboitiz discusses the organization's Purpose with team members during 'Coffee with EIA," which was held on Sept. 14 at Shangri-La the Fort.
WE ARE A GROUP WITH A PURPOSE. Aboitiz Group President and CEO Erramon Aboitiz discusses the organization's Purpose with team members during 'Coffee with EIA," which was held on Sept. 14 at Shangri-La the Fort.

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Coffee with EIA 2017: Let’s Talk Purpose!

This year’s “Coffee with EIA” zoomed in further on the Aboitiz Group Purpose “to drive change for a better world” and our brand promise of Advancing Business and Communities.

To better inform team members of their role in driving change for a better world, EIA sat down and discussed how working as one, cohesive, and engaged organization is essential to realizing long-term success.

Our group purpose is close to my heart because to me, it is the answer to why even with over 100 years of history behind us, we continue to build and improve our business and our name, continue to stand true to our convictions and mission of creating value for all our stakeholders, continue to be so strongly committed to balancing People, Planet and Profit even when faced with difficult moments of choice… Simply put, our purpose is our story.

-Erramon I. Aboitiz, President and CEO, Aboitiz Group

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…As the popular saying goes ‘The enemy of the best is not the bad, the enemy of the best is the good.’  Clearly, we have an opportunity to go from good to great, and it all depends on what we do to narrow the gaps and create the opportunity to raise the level of engagement among us and among our teams.

Below are some highlights during EIA’s conversations with team members:

Asked how the Group Purpose inspires him, Louie de Real from Aboitiz Foundation gave his account of how this has guided his decision to remain with the organization:

“I have already been with the Aboitiz Group for five years already. Prior to entering the group, I just thought I will just stay in the company for around two years because my goal then was to just have a break from studying and gain work experience, and proceed to studying law school after. My first two years in Aboitiz was filled with a lot of exposure, learning, opportunities to grow and contribute. Working in the Foundation, I felt that my work results to either better the organization or better the lives of our stakeholders. I felt my contribution; the impact of the work that I do. From then on, I pushed myself to grow more in the organization, involved myself in various initiatives, and sometimes leading various projects to improve the way we do things in the organization. I saw my purpose.”
I felt that I still have a lot to do in the Foundation. I felt that I need to make a mark. Looking at work beyond work, but more of a platform to do something great. Then I decided to stay. I just hope that the company will always provide opportunities for team members like me to be heard, to contribute, and to grow.

Q: What has been the greatest challenge of Aboitiz Group so far, and how did our Purpose help the organization?

EIA: Behind our Purpose is our steadfast adherence to our core values. Even during the most difficult of times, we never compromised our beliefs. I remember during the 1997 financial crisis. Many businesses closed shop. There were some who resorted to questionable business activities just to survive.  To illustrate, imagine a businessman who was into the importation of heavy equipment prior to the crisis. But because of the difficult situation, he resorted to rice smuggling just to remain profitable. So to us, we always strive to look for our true north. And our Purpose, our values, the Aboitiz Way always keep us straight. We stuck with our core values and we don’t lose sight of who we are and where we want to go.

Q: What for you is a pressing concern that the Aboitiz Group faces? And how do you hope to address this concern?

EIA: Succession planning. For me, it is always about leaving a stronger team after we “graduate”. Let’s face it. There are many of us who will be retiring soon. It is important that we build our successors, make our teams stronger and ready for the future. Let’s leave behind a team that will do better than us. As leaders, we have to focus on preparing them for the challenges of the future, and still remain true to our Purpose and core values. It is a mindset that we are passing on. Passing on to a new, stronger team, passing on the baton at the right time for the good of the organization.

Q: Sir, a follow through question. Two things strike me from your answer: team engagement and succession. What are your thoughts on these and how can we support?

EIA: On teams, just engage with them. Support them as leaders and enhance their commitment. How do we get them turned on? Show them why they are here and what is the bigger purpose they are contributing to. Remember the story of John F. Kennedy and the NASA janitor. When he visited NASA, he chanced upon a janitor and asked him, “What kind of work do you do here?” To which the janitor replied beaming with enthusiasm, “I am helping this team send man to the moon.” So you see, let’s instill among our team members that what we do here is more than just a job. We are contributing our talents for a bigger goal, for our country, for our fellow Filipinos.

On succession, I encourage all our team leaders to share their knowledge and continue their people to grow. There are leaders who keep all their knowledge to themselve because it makes them indispensable. But that should not be the case. Share it because the more knows about how you make things work, the greater will be the impact and the more successful teams can be.

Q: Is the saying “it’s lonely at the top” true? Being at a position with such a big responsibility, do you agree with this statement? How do you want your term to be remembered?

EIA: Sometimes it can really be lonely. That is why it’s important not to make decisions alone, all of these I make with people. I want my term here to be remembered as a time when we took advantage of our position to build something bigger, and not simply harvest the benefits from that position. It’s part of being a successful organization; it’s part of an organization that has grown so much.

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Q: Since 51% of the total population of the organization are millennials, What is your personal value proposition for culture-building for the younger team members in the Group?

EIA: Discussions with newer team members are very important. We have to understand the younger generation, but they also have to understand us and our values as a Group. These conversations that we have, it does not just cater to the younger team members. It is essential to meet halfway. This also functions to make them understand the organization and its goals.

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Q: Considering that sometimes we can’t avoid generational gaps, in what ways do you plan to engage younger team members?

EIA: We need to create an environment that makes people feel welcome. Bringing them into the fold and making them a part of the Group’s goal is an important step towards including our young team members.

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Read our August 31 cover story:

Watch the Aboitiz Construction 2017 Corporate Video