What are your roles and responsibilities in the organization?

I have been a part of the Aboitiz Group for over twenty years, starting as a fresh graduate. My career trajectory has been varied, beginning with market research, transitioning to IT, and finally landing in HR. Since 2005, I have accumulated considerable experience in human resources.

Last year, I served as the Chief Human Resources Officer for AboitizPower’s Renewable Energy Group. Currently, I am a member of the Aboitiz Group’s transformation team, serving as the First Vice President. In my HR experience, the organization’s senior leaders are very intentional about talent management and this contributed to the development of a robust people strategy, which is a top priority for the Aboitiz Group. As an employer of choice, we take pride in prioritizing people and ensuring they are at the core of our transformation.

What are some prevalent challenges you see in the HR space today?

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for businesses to adapt to changing circumstances. In this context, HR leaders play a crucial role in ensuring that work operations run smoothly regardless of internal or external situations. One of the ongoing discussions is about the benefits of a hybrid work environment that offers flexibility for employees to work from home or the office. However, it is essential to maintain personal connections with employees and provide flexible work arrangements to ensure that we don’t lose touch with them.

HR leaders should also prioritize personalized interactions with their team members. By getting to know each employee, including their work and family situation, line leaders can provide a more focused and tailored experience that supports their individual needs and allows them to perform at their best within the company.

Although hybrid work has been more prevalent in the post-pandemic era, there is still ongoing debate about the optimal work arrangement for both the company and employees. As a result, HR leaders must be empathetic towards employees to continuously cultivate a positive and supportive workplace experience.  Amid the rapid pace of change in every aspect of business, it is crucial not to lose sight of the human factor. It is important to remember that employees have unique needs and challenges, and HR leaders must consider their individual circumstances when developing policies and practices that support their wellbeing and productivity. As our CEO says, we need to ensure that we are able to accept change and be comfortable with all the uncertainties. We should always remember that we’re still human, and the people we work with are also human beings.

As an HR leader, what are some of the practices you spearhead to ensure that employees adhere to the organization’s culture?

Our CEO strongly emphasizes communication and takes a people-centric approach rather than a controlling style. He holds large town hall gatherings, followed by small group discussions with various organization members. Even though this is a large and diverse organization, he takes time to interact with employees and answer questions. And since he exemplifies this, other top executives think in the same way, ensuring that the company’s direction and our massive transformative purpose is aligned and understood by all.

“Although hybrid work has been more prevalent in the post-pandemic era, there is still ongoing debate about the optimal work arrangement for both the company and employees. As a result, HR leaders must be empathetic towards employees to continuously cultivate a positive and supportive workplace experience.”

For example, our performance management system advocates ongoing conversations rather than merely conducting semi-annual performance reviews twice a year. We firmly believe that clarity in our communications allows employees to feel safe to ask questions. And if something about the company direction is unclear to them, we should be able to answer that as well. That is one of our best practices, and it has been reinforced by our CEO, is been committed to creating strong interpersonal connections within the organization.

How do you manage workforces to balance employees from older generations and millennials of today’s generation to collaborate and create an efficient workforce?

In 2020, our CEO spearheaded the creation of the Remix program, aimed at leveraging the strengths of each age group in our workforce. For example, the flexible benefits program has been successful in not only retaining older employees but also motivating them and increasing their commitment, leading to greater productivity. The program is tailored to meet the needs of different employees, ensuring that they receive benefits that align with their unique circumstances.

Typically, baby boomers prioritize base pay and retirement plans, while Gen Xers value stability and opportunities for career growth. Meanwhile, millennials tend to seek a transparent work environment, regular feedback, and clarity regarding expectations. By offering benefits that cater to these specific needs, the Remix program has proven to be an effective tool for enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction across our multi-generational workforce.

We have the remix committee at the backend composed of individuals from different age groups to ensure that all age groups are represented. For example, if we’re looking for ways to enhance employee benefits, each committee member would give their ideas to personalize benefits for each generation to gain insight into approaching employee benefit planning moving forward.

Another program that we’ve come up with is our reverse mentoring program, where the senior leader is mentored by a younger or more junior employee. The process recognizes that there are skills gaps and opportunities to learn on both sides of a mentoring relationship and that flipping the traditional format on its head can be beneficial for both parties. I went through that program myself, where someone who is more junior than me in terms of level and age taught me how to use Canva.

Do you have any advice for HR leaders in the space?

I recently attended a conference where the focus was centered on the changes in technology. At that conference, I asked the participating HR leaders how many had used ChatGPT and at the time, very few raised their hands. As demand for new capabilities gathers pace, it’s become a mandate for HR leaders to upskill and reskill employees to remain competitive. HR leaders also need to stay updated with the latest technological innovations, such as AI, which are creating widespread ripples in the HR community. We also need to build a growth mindset, and always be willing to try out new things so we can reimagine the future. HR leaders must embrace new frameworks and next-generation tools that unlock agility and empower people to achieve their full potential.

Don’t be afraid to try new things; be bold and courageous in facing the future so that we can lead effectively and thrive now and in the future.