HR firm finds the sweetest thing
In the year 2000, when the world was all excited about the beginning of a new millennium and Mariah Carey was lording over the charts with “Vision of Love,” Trixie Whyte was starting a business in a spare room in her house that was so cramped that when one sneezes, the rest would catch a cold.
There was little indication then that the six-by-six-foot home office in Makati City, which was manned by just six people, with a desk, a personal computer and patrolled by an attention-seeking golden retriever, would in 20 years become one of the largest human resources (HR) management companies in the Philippines.
Q2 HR Solutions today has close to 4,000 employees and has served over 1,000 local and multinational companies. It also has a head office that occupies two floors in the same building where Whyte started with a little more than a dream and a grim determination she shared with her late husband, Brendan, to “do something noble.”
In 2011, Q2 HR Solutions was recognized by the People Management Association of the Philippines as employer of the year for the SME category, for their commitment to nurture people as the background of their business.
“I still pinch myself sometimes,” the vivacious 51-year-old and mother of three tells the Inquirer. “Next year, we’re turning 20 years. What a milestone.”
One thing that has not changed over 20 years is Whyte’s vision: “To uplift the lives of Filipino people and uplift companies through human resources management.”
Whyte believes her business is on “the noble side” as it gets to help people by providing them with careers, jobs and opportunities for themselves and for their families. At the same time, it gets to help companies by providing them the talent they need for their business to grow and prosper.
The company is able to do all this through a full suite of human resources services, including sourcing and recruitment, executive search, permanent placement, background investigation, recruitment process outsourcing, fully managed services, bespoke HR programs and HR change management consulting.
There are other companies offering similar services in the Philippines but Whyte claims what sets her company apart is that it is a one-stop shop for companies looking for human resources support, from executive search to background investigation, HR consulting, employment services and outsourcing.
“Anything about HR, we can provide. That is our unique selling proposition,” says the Philosophy graduate of De La Salle University.
As a testament that it can back its claim that it provides quality service and adheres to global standards, Q2 HR Solutions became the first Filipino company awarded in 2016 a platinum accreditation by London-based Investors in People governed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
“It is really about employing global best practices. To me, that is very important. We want to be the best in our industry, not just in the Philippines but globally,” Whyte says. “So when we go out there to pitch, we can prove that when we say quality, we mean quality.”
Whyte developed a business around HR management as it was a field she grew up knowing. Her family ran a recruitment company and the revenues from manpower services put food on their table and put her through school. So when her mother asked her to help her run the firm when she graduated, she dutifully joined.
But they were soon often at loggerheads over where to take the company, to the point that she thought her energies would be put to better use going into the field on their own, as suggested by her late husband, who passed away in 2007.
And so they did and established Q2 HR Solutions, after Quaerito Qualitas, or to seek quality. It was a mouthful so they shortened it to Q2, inspired by her late husband’s favorite band, U2. He was part Irish, after all.
Whyte believes they came in at just the right time because the economy was starting to grow and so there were companies, both foreign and local, who were looking to take advantage of that growth but needed help finding the right people.
They started by talking to people they knew personally, in case they needed HR consultancy services or knew others who did. They also did cold calls and started developing their talent pool who could qualify for the HR pool by going to the top universities and getting lists of their graduates. They also went to the graduate schools to get their own listings of graduates whom Whyte could link with the right company at the right time.
She has thus become something of a corporate matchmaker, one who “matches the best with the best.”
It was not easy getting to where she is today.
She remembers in the beginning how she did all the marketing and had to harness all of the people skills that she had—enhanced in part by her eight-year stint at the much-missed Mandarin Oriental Hotel—and confidence to convince people that she knew what she was doing and that they did indeed need her services.
Her persistence paid off as she soon signed up a multinational client, and a big one at that, which boosted her morale and cemented the idea that she was doing the right thing. That client was followed by another and then soon other clients came knocking on her door, many of those who bet on her in the beginning have remained loyal clients today.
It took them just months to move from their spare room into a 121-square-meter office space, also in Makati. From there, they expanded to 1,000 sqm when they turned 12 years old and today occupies several floors of the same building, 88 Corporate Center in Salcedo Village.
Today, Q2 has over 4,000 employees deployed and Whyte earns fulfillment knowing that she had a hand in giving these employees a good source of income.
Her sense of purpose was reinforced one day when an elderly woman greeted her when she got out of her car. She met her to thank her for helping her feed her three children.
“It just sank in, the impact of what I do, more than what I saw in the beginning,” Whyte says. “It is a noble business because I help provide the most basic, which is food on the table. And so that day, something shifted in my head. I knew again my purpose. It is to earn profit with honor. Mine is a for-profit corporation but what I am proud of is the bigger purpose it serves that is beyond ourselves.”
As it marks its 20th year, Whyte has her sights trained on further expanding the footprint of Q2. After establishing a firm foundation in the Philippines, she already established a presence in Australia and soon, she is set on opening in Japan, the United Kingdom, Sweden and then Canada, all countries that have demand for quality HR, particularly in health care and construction.
Q2 HR Solutions has indeed become more than what the Whytes imagined in 2000, and given its bright prospects, it feels that it is actually just getting started.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.