Accenture transforms lives in Ilocos region
SAN NICOLAS, Ilocos Norte—Working student Camille Joyce Calipjo, 22, of the Divine Word College of Laoag City said she struggled to finish her accountancy course.
But she said the tough quest to get her diploma was a worthwhile journey, having become one of the pioneer employees of a giant information technology firm that recently opened for business in this northern gateway.
Calipjo is part of the 200-member work force of Accenture Philippines’ newest delivery center in San Nicolas town.
“I am graduating this month but I was hired during a school job fair in which Accenture participated last year,” she said.
Accenture has been hiring and training people since February last year, including graduating students and experienced professionals, to provide health and finance administration for the company’s global clients across Europe and North America.
On March 4, Accenture inaugurated its three-story building located between the cities of Laoag and Batac. It was built by the Venvi group of companies, a local real estate developer.
Next to Metro Manila and Cebu, the Ilocos facility is Accenture’s third delivery center in the country.
The project was developed two years ago when Benedict Hernandez, Accenture head of service delivery operations, discussed with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos about the IT and business process management (BPM) potentials here.
“This [new center] was the best kept secret in the Philippines for us,” said Hernandez during the inaugural program.
Ilocos Norte’s optimal telecommunications infrastructure, its accessibility to the Laoag International Airport, the presence of special economic zones, its education centers and a deep pool of local talents have impressed investors like Accenture to expand their businesses in the province.
Hernandez said the Accenture Ilocos facility boasts of the “incredible Ilocano talents who are on par if not better” performers among the delivery centers in the country.
“We are very happy because finally they are here. It took us five years (since 2011) working with the provincial government, trying to convince the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry to come to the province,” said Prof. Marlina Lino, coordinator of Project C4 (Coaching for a Call Center Career) of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU). Project C4 trains students who may wish to work as call center agents.
Lino said the university has revised some of its curricular offerings to include BPO subjects to prepare students.
Accenture’s investments also help plug a potential brain drain that has alarmed the provincial government.
Ilocanos are traditional migrants but out-migration had never been a major concern in the province until 2010 when a study revealed that four out of 10 Ilocanos did not have quick access to employment.
From an initial 200 hires, Accenture hopes to bring in 5,000 more workers when it expands its delivery center in the Ilocos region.
Manish Sharma, who heads Accenture’s global delivery operations, said the Philippine economy has been strong, which is why foreign companies have expanded in the country.
Accenture is not the only IT firm in the Ilocos today. Expert Global Solutions (EGS) is constructing a building near Accenture’s delivery center while the Robinson’s Mall has expanded two floors for BPO clients.
In 2014, the Department of Science and Technology awarded Metro Laoag for having the best IT-BPM infrastructure and for becoming a part of the Next Wave City, a reference to alternative IT-BPM destinations to Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.