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DTCC’s mother hen knows no rest

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 05:40 AM October 22, 2017

Nellie Carin-Dagdag. Photo by Annelle Tayao-Juego

She’s loyal, and she doesn’t say no to a job.

That’s how Nellie Carin-Dagdag, managing director and head of global industry relations of US-based financial services company Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), describes her professional attitude—which, in her experience, is both good and bad.


“Work is like a magnet—it finds the person who can handle it best. That’s not necessarily bad, because you get all the breaks, the learnings,” says Dagdag, who has been in the financial services industry since 1982. In her current post in DTCC, Dagdag says she plays three roles, categorized into three levels.

The first is as chief engagement officer for DTCC’s Manila office.


“I encourage the team, train the leaders. The key [aspects] we measure are our engagement level, attrition rate, and growth rate. The great thing about [our Manila office] is that we have a low attrition rate—only in the single digits, which is really lower compared to the industry’s average, because usually BPOs are in the 20s. The people are very excited because many roles open up; our mobility index is also high,” she says. “Survey after survey, Manila has the highest rating when it comes to engagement. We’re a happy people. Our claim to fame is that there hasn’t been any visiting officer who left unhappy. They’re so impressed because we are the only office where they feel a high-energy vibe, where people actually like what they’re doing.”

On a regional level, Dagdag calls her role “mother hen.”

“I make sure that the different functions talk to each other. My boss saw how communication might be hard given that we have a functional structure, and that leaders are based in different countries. When I see, for example, two officers getting into a heated e-mail discussion, I intervene and tell them, ‘okay, nobody respond to this thread anymore, I will talk to this person offline,’” she says. “I am also the direct overseer of the China market.”

Finally, on a global level, Dagdag manages industry relations, which also has three components: Engaging strategic and critical clients in various regions, mostly on their use of DTCC’s services and the pain points they are facing in each market; engaging with trade associations, so that DTCC is aware of any issues they are tackling; and public relations.

Dagdag began her 35-year career in financial services with SGV & Co., which she joined shortly after graduating from the University of San Jose-Recoletos in Cebu City with a degree in commerce.

Her strong work ethic stems from her attitude toward her studies: She loved going to school, and she loved being at the top of her class (she graduated summa cum laude).

“I really enjoyed school, because I wasn’t really into physical activities. I’m the youngest in the family, and no one really wanted to play with me because I was such a weakling. So in school I discovered math, reading, and I loved it. I couldn’t wait to do my homework,” says the mother of four, who observed that her only daughter takes after her studious nature.


Until 1992, Dagdag stayed with SGV & Co., which had become a member firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. in 1986. While initially hired to do audit, Dagdag says she eventually ended up in the Information Technology Consulting Division, which was spun off into Andersen Consulting Inc., the forerunner of Accenture. She left Andersen Consulting Inc. as senior manager in 1995, and spent her last three years with the company specializing in capital markets.

Dagdag then moved to Philippine Central Depository Inc., now the Philippine Depository & Trust Corp., as vice president for IT.

She was part of a five-member management team which operationalized the company. “In the long run, [the other members] left one by one, giving the company no choice but to name me president,” she says, chuckling.

“I joined July 1995, I became CEO 1999.”

It was a post that tested Dagdag, one that made her realize that at some point, one has to know when to to take a break, too.

“Be careful what you wish for. You might think it’s great to be CEO, but it won’t be everything you wished for. There’s a price to it. It came to a point wherein my brain wouldn’t rest; I would be having meetings in my sleep. I guess I was also young, and not really ready for it (she was 38 then),” she says. “But I loved the experience, because it’s different when you’re in that position. You’re the one running meetings, and I got to work with brilliant people from whom I learned a lot.”

She adds: “It’s a good thing my husband is super, super, super supportive of my career. Even when he was still my boyfriend back when I was working in SGV, he would wait for me to take me home when I did overtime.”

In a way, it was her daughter who forced her to rest, as Dagdag was pregnant with her then. “I had to go on bed rest—but I would have my computer beside me, and I would hold meetings at home,” she recalls.

A few years after giving birth, Dagdag suffered a mini stroke, which also made her realize the importance of keeping healthy.

“It was a wake-up call. Now I make sure to eat regularly, and I always drink water. I also do yoga,” she says.

Feeling that she needed to rest after working for so long, Dagdag decided to take advantage of a Philippine law on tax-free early retirement at 50. She was no longer looking for a job–until DTCC came along. Not that she regrets accepting her offer; like her young, schoolgirl self, Dagdag is happy she gets to continue learning.

“I was the kind of person who didn’t know what she wanted to do in the beginning—all I wanted to do was learn. Moving to DTCC was a matter of me wanting to expand [my knowledge and experience],” she says.

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TAGS: Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Nellie Carin-Dagdag, US-based financial services
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