Despite risks, PH firms optimistic about 2022 | Inquirer Business
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Despite risks, PH firms optimistic about 2022

By: - Business Features Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 03:57 AM December 06, 2021

Corporate Philippines entered 2021 with great expectations that it would be far better than 2020, when the economy was bludgeoned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for the most part, it has been a better year.

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As the country is moving closer toward achieving herd immunity, quarantine restrictions have been eased; more parts of the economy have opened up and Philippine companies have recalibrated their operations based on the growing realization that the virus is likely here to stay.

Risks, however, remain on the horizon given the 2022 general elections and the expected emergence of more COVID-19 variants like Omicron.

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Despite this, Goldman Sachs boldly predicted that the Philippine economy will expand by an impressive 7.3 percent next year, the fastest in the so-called Association of Southeast Asian Nations-5 and within the government’s target to grow Gross Domestic Product by 7 to 9 percent in 2022.

Top Philippine companies share that optimism and here, CEOs of some of the country’s leading corporations as well as entrepreneurs share their thoughts on what they learned in 2021 and what actions they will prioritize in such a pivotal year as 2022.

Lance Gokongwei

President & CEO

JG Summit Holdings, Inc.

One of my biggest lessons [in 2021] is how the pandemic has demonstrated that we are all interconnected and interrelated. Thus, we all need to pull together and support one another in order to help build a strong Philippines where no one is left behind. For I truly believe that we are only as strong as our weakest link.

This year also provided us at the Gokongwei Group the opportunity to further clarify and sharpen our priorities, and reinforce our corporate values.  By allowing our Purpose which is – having an unrelenting commitment to provide our customers with better choices, creating shared success with our stakeholders ­–  to shine through and be our guiding light, we have proven our resilience as an organization, and that we have the ability to adapt and move forward even in the most challenging circumstances.

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My priority for 2022 is to ensure that we build back better—across the board.  To be able to successfully do this, I think we need to begin equipping and training our people, retooling our businesses, and continue supporting our communities and our country for a truly sustainable and inclusive economic recovery and growth.

Fabian Dee

President

Metropolitan Bank

and Trust Co.

We should always look to the lessons of the past because those lessons helped us well during the pandemic. When we went through the 1997 financial crisis, we practiced continued prudence.

We did the same at the onset of the pandemic and continued with a conservative stance in all our operations. It paid off immensely when we were named as the Strongest Bank in the Philippines for 2021 by The Asian Banker, and as the Best Domestic Bank in the Philippines for 2021 by Asiamoney.

We are truly grateful for the unwavering support of our clients and for the commitment of our people. To be recognized for our strength and resilience amidst the worldwide economic downturn brought about by the pandemic is a big honor for all Metrobankers. This validates our capability of keeping all our stakeholders in good hands despite the pandemic.

In 2022, Metrobank will be looking to contribute immensely to postpandemic recovery, both for the clients and the industry.

One of our key institutional priorities is still the health and safety of our employees and customers. We’re not yet out of the woods as far as COVID-19 is concerned and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Operationally, we will also be maintaining our focus on sustaining our strong balance sheet position. We managed to achieve a healthy level of capital and liquidity; and proactively set aside loan loss provisions that will help cushion any lingering or prolonged effects of the pandemic on our credit portfolio. Another priority is ensuring that we understand the needs of our customers so we can support them in their own efforts to recover. Whether it’s a corporate client, an SME client, or a retail client we will do all we can to help them.

Lastly, digital transformation is a key strategic agenda. The pandemic nudged us to have a sharper focus on prioritization and time-to-market.

Our digital transformation efforts focus on our customers and our employees’ ability to adapt to the changes and innovation that we are employing. All these need to sit on strong governance and risk management practices to protect our customers and the bank’s stakeholders.

Josephine Gotianun-Yap

President and CEO

Filinvest Land Inc.

I’ve always been asked: “What makes you lose sleep during this pandemic? I’ve always answered it this way: “True, this pandemic is a curveball. But I know we will survive the pandemic, and so far, we have survived it relatively well. If I can live through the pandemic, nothing should keep me up at night.”

While FIlinvest has been in business for 66 years, we still need to be always prepared for the worst even during the best of times. Always have a plan B in anticipation of curveballs like COVID-19. Your commitments to your customers remain paramount so you need to be prepared to be able to deliver.

It is also important to be surrounded by a cohesive and strong working team who are willing and can rise up to even under difficult challenges, and switch to an agile approach. I found this in our Filinvest family. When you all carry the load together, it is never too heavy for anyone person.

As always, trust is essential. it pays to build a strong trust relationship with the financial community—with the banks, institutional investors, retail investors—who continue to back us up during crisis situations. We saw this strong manifestation of support during the IPo of Filinvest REIT on August, as well as in our foreign and local bond offerings.

Lastly, keep your eye always on what truly matters in life. It has often been a life lesson, pandemic or not. But during a crisis, it becomes more crucial for us to be good members of society, good leaders at work and foster good relations at home.

For 2022, we have many plans and priorities. Among them is accelerating programs in response to a back-to-normal business environment, coupled with conitnued digital transformation.

More than ever, we need to train our focus on our sustainability roadmap, built into our corporate strategy, going forward.

We will also continue to look out for the well-being of our Filinvest family by providing booster shots, regular workplace random testing, and conscientious safety protocols, among others.

Ricardo P. Isla

Chief Executive Officer

AirAsia Philippines

To be agile, innovative and grateful are some of the best learnings for us in AirAsia Philippines this 2021.  It is our ability to quickly adapt to the changing needs of times and our pivot to digitalization that allowed us to empower our guests and the millions of airasia Super App users with safe, convenient and affordable products under one digital, travel and lifestyle platform.

This 2022, as Allstars, we will continue to be grateful with an aim to grow with the postpandemic recovery through opening more domestic routes, gradually reopening our international destinations and launching more lines of business  under the Super App.

John Freda

General Manager

JTI Philippines

One thing I have learned first-hand is the true meaning of Philippine resilience when watching my team navigate through all that the pandemic has thrown at them.

I am very proud of our people at JTI and the efforts everyone has made during these difficult times.

Unfortunately, the resilience I have witnessed in the Philippines can work both ways as we have seen tobacco smugglers take advantage of the pandemic to push cheap illegal products to consumers with reduced income.

Organized criminals have proven to be determined, highly adaptable and creative, making huge profits often with very low risk of being caught and insignificant penalties.

A priority for me and my company in 2022 is our continued close collaboration with law enforcement agencies in our fight against illegal trade.

Frederic C. DyBuncio

President and CEO

SM Investments Corp.

One of the biggest lessons the pandemic has taught us is resilience, especially in adapting to the needs of our customers and keeping our people healthy, safe and protected from COVID-19.

We were all taught the value of responsibility towards our people, our partners and our communities. We all learned the importance of bayanihan and togetherness—that solutions are better done together.

There is greater impact when all sectors, both public and private, help communities and support the national agenda together to move faster towards recovery.

As for 2022, business confidence is receiving a big boost from increased vaccination rates as well as heightened awareness over maintaining health and safety practices. But we remain vigilant over risks today.

Even as we deal with the pandemic, we continue to see opportunities and we are determined to keep on investing and expanding with a keen eye on long-term growth and making sure we come out of the crisis at full speed.

Anthony L. Almeda

President

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines

The biggest lesson I learned is that it helps to have a ready mindset during trying times. Adapt, adjust, move on. When you know there’s a storm coming, it’s not enough to bring an umbrella. You have to be ready with a raincoat and rainboots, and perhaps invest in a lifejacket.

It is also crucial to plan, plan, plan, and stick to the plan. Ours is a collective undertaking, and moving forward with the same goal, same mindset, and following the same deadline,is crucial. The key word here is congruence.

Our strength is drawn from the compatibility and alignment of all efforts. We can’t and shouldn’t move in silo, because the value of our work can only be measured when measured as a whole. Congruence: All the elements should come together to support a singular direction.

For 2022, the plan is to come in strong. Energy stability is such a buzzword and is often erroneously associated with just transmission planning.

But true stability is measured not just by the strength of your backbone but also by soundness of the rest of the industry. We’ve always emphasized that energy stability is the collective strength of the power grid and the forward nature of generation planning. Again, congruence between transmission, generation and distribution. The strength and success of one relies on the alignment of the others.

Richard Bates

President and CEO

Manulife Philippines

2021 brought its own set of challenges, and keeping a constant pulse on the sentiments and needs of both our customers and our team has been critical to staying relevant and being resilient during these times of challenge and rapid change.

At Manulife, making every day better has been our primary focus. It means ensuring that despite the uncertainties, our customers can be certain about one thing—our support. This is a promise we make, as we work to be the most customer-centric insurer in the industry, and it is also a commitment we make to members of our team. This focus has also helped us innovate and thrive amid a global health crisis.

In 2022, we will continue to listen to the changing needs of Filipinos, and offer products and services to help them achieve their goals wherever they are in their life journey. Whether it’s financial freedom, career advancement or opportunities, or health and well-being, we will be with them every step of the way.

Deng Jun

Country Head

Bank of China, Manila Branch

When I think of 2021, I’m reminded of a Chinese word: Wei Ji, which translates to crisis and opportunity. There are always two sides to one coin. So even during times of crisis, we learned to never lose confidence. This was a wisdom we were able to practice successfully this year, and that lesson was more important than gold.

Despite the economic slowdown, we learned to remain resilient as we looked for new opportunities caused by the new normal. That is the reason why the Bank of China has remained confident about the promising Philippine economy and even expanded our business here.

Looking forward to 2022, the bank’s priorities will be centered around digitalization and employee development, in line with the BSP’s initiatives. This is to better the customer experience, meet the requirements of regulators, and further develop our own employees.

Nicholas Lee

Vice President ,

Market Leader Asia Pacific

Philips Domestic Appliances

The biggest lesson in 2021 I would say is a “People-First” approach in whatever I do.  If we take care of ourselves and people we work with, we will be able to accomplish anything.  If we follow our heart and fear no failure, then every adversity will be an opportunity.  These are what I believe make up the essence of empowered leadership.

For 2022, while continuing to take a “People-First” approach, giving sustainability an added push in our organization and personal lives would be the priority.  We have so much more work to do in this area.

We want to help people turn their houses into homes through meaningful and sustainable innovation. We will look to minimize waste in production and increase our use of recycled and biobased materials. And, mindful of the environment around us, design our products with energy efficiency in mind. I always believe we must leave this place better than when we found it.

Henry Albert R. Fadullon

President and COO

Phoenix Petroleum Philippines

This year, our belief in unity was further affirmed. You truly can’t do it alone. We need to work together, especially during the most challenging of times. This has been evident in everything—from adapting our business to our new circumstances, to our country’s vaccination program. Everyone contributes to the solution and the success of every endeavor.

I also learned how important trust and credibility are. These are not built overnight, but are certainly worth investing in as these fortify any business against threats and uncertainty. Additionally, during a crisis, relationships matter incredibly, and could spell the difference between moving forward and having everything put to a halt.

For 2022, our priority is to rebuild trust where needed, and further strengthen key relationships. We also focus our sights on operational excellence through execution and delivery. As we all work towards recovery, we at Phoenix are optimistic and determined to create more value in the postpandemic era.

Joel Cruz

CEO

Aficionado Perfume

I learned and discovered a lot during this pandemic. You have to think clearly and not just think about yourself. In business, you have to be adaptable and creative to survive. That is why I ventured into food and beverages with Takoyatea by Joel Cruz and offered franchising. With this new brand and business, I was able to provide continued employment and business opportunities to people.

Anna Lagon

CEO

Bayo

Never discount the value of helping others, as it will give you bigger opportunities for your business. During the peak of the pandemic, we focused on two things—providing livelihood to partner communities and strengthening our commitment to building a sustainable value chain network.

The partnerships that we’ve fostered helped our business to pivot as a clothing brand that not only provides fashion wear but a fashion retailer that helps frontliners protect themselves from the threat of the COVID-19 virus through scientifically crafted personal protective equipment and face masks made from sustainable fabric.

In 2022, we will continue to extend the value of helping others and the importance of sustainability to our businesses processes.

The collaboration with weaving communities will be accelerated to support our objective of preserving our cultural heritage while at the same time assuring continuous livelihood for our local weavers.

Eduardo V. Francisco

President

BDO Capital and Investment Corp.

My biggest lesson for 2021 is to just keep on getting up and know that things will get better. last year was pretty bleak for a lot of people but we just have to be resilient and take care of ourselves. The sun will rise and we should make the most of each day.

TG Limcaoco

CEO and President

Bank of the Philippine Islands

This pandemic has shown us that every challenge has a silver lining, that in crisis lies opportunities—to pivot, to improve, and to see things from a different perspective.

In August of this year, BPI marked our 170th annivresary. It is important for us that even at 170 years, we are able and eager to adapt and reinvent ourselves for our key stakeholders.

I understand that this global health pandemic has brought stress and anxiety to a lot of people. Therefore it is important to listen. As a trusted financial service provider, we have to keep our customers on top of our minds and look at things ffrom their perspective.

My three guidlines toward our goal to provide an enhanced customer experience: Let’s do it right, let’s make it easy and let’s be nice.

Banking has always been a very competitive business and cusotmers will always be on the lookout for the bank that can serve them best.

This kind of mindset is especially crucial as we prepare for a postpandemic life. The economy’s recovery is sure to come. When we emerge from this pandemic, there will be pent-up demand for working capital, and there will be pent-up demand on the consumer side.

We need to put the processes, the people and the programs in place so that we are immediately ready to provide the best services to our customers, today and tomorrow.

Jeffrey de Venecia Navarro

Head of Philippines,

Malaysia, Brunei & Indochina

Western Union

My key takeaways from 2021 is to never lose focus— rising up to challenges during a pandemic is never easy.

There are many things beyond your control and the industry’s control that could hinder even the best plans. The impact of the pandemic continues to affect all of us, with the consequences unlikely to disappear any time soon.

So, it becomes all the more important to not lose focus, and use this opportunity to demonstrate your value and purpose by keeping the customer at the center of your decisions, and advancing capabilities based on their needs.

In terms of 2022 and beyond, our focus will be on continuing efficiency

In the postpandemic economic rebuilding that lies ahead, there will be a significant need for innovation and technology to keep financial support flowing across borders, particularly to developing countries.

So, at Western Union, we will continue to foster existing and new relationships and continue to evolve our thinking, ensuring the customers are our top priority and facilitating reliable and convenient money transfers and payments for them globally, and also both online and offline.

Pia Arellano

President and CEO

TransUnion Philippines

Best lesson learned in 2021: Embrace a bamboo-like ethic —the pandemic has immersed us in a VUCA world—in order to survive and thrive we must be as flexible as we can, empathetic to the needs of our customers and quick and agile if there is a need to course-correct and iterate.

Just like the bamboo, we must bend as much as we can (without breaking of course) so in the end we come out stronger and more resilient than ever.

Priority in 2022: I will continue to raise awareness and educate our customers and the industry at large on the power of data as a tool for empowerment and transformation.  Now more than ever—everyone must leverage on data to drive economic growth and recovery.

Edgar Saavedra

Chair, president and CEO

Megawide Construction Corp.

In 2021, we learned, as an organization, to stay the course, despite the strong headwinds.

Additionally, we also realized that commercial agility, organizational and operational adaptability, and financial flexibility are the new essentials to thrive and navigate under an ever-evolving business landscape.

Yet at the end of the day, no matter how well we prepare along these aspects and maintain legitimacy of operations, there will continue to be challenges along the way, but we have to learn to roll with the punches. As they always say, what does not kill you makes you stronger.

We have aligned our priorities in 2022 with the lessons learned in 2021.

Commercial agility through our pivot to infrastructure, focusing on enhancing mobility and improving connectivity, through railway and landport projects—with our construction DNA as an enabler.

Financial flexibility to enable us to pursue various capital-raising activities—through debt, equity, or both—to achieve the most efficient capital structure and strengthen the company’s overall financial position.

We also look at trailblazing the capital market in 2022 with our Citicore Energy REIT, the country’s first energy REIT.

Michael Cosiquien

Chair

ISOC Holdings Inc.

2021 was more of a test than 2020. In 2020, we had the benefit of novelty but this year, we had to reach into our haunches and go beyond resilience. In any crisis, but especially in this one, it takes grit and perspective to stick to your ambition.

Of course, we need to adapt and we have, but our goal is fixed. We continue to push forward to create future-ensuring solutions in Cold Chain, telco towers, infrastructure and real estate.

Jasper Ong

President and CEO

Hanabishi Appliances

In 2020 and 2021, the world saw that the ability to quickly adapt to the changing times is key to business survival. Being able to be flexible and to always have hope that things will become better, having that positive attitude can greatly affect your business.

In our business, we immediately sought the sentiments of the customers and analyzed their needs. We innovated in the products and added lines to cater to the demands of the consumers. We also made our distribution channel more accessible to the public by strengthening our presence online.

In 2022, we will continue to improve on our online presence, while streamlining the details. Our traditional channels are still there but recognizing that the pandemic will not end anytime soon, we will listen to the field and be always up on our toes to cater to the needs of our consumers.

Justin T. Liu

Director and chair

Figaro Coffee Group Inc.

The biggest lesson we learned in 2021 is the importance of prudence, balance in growth and conservatism.

It is easy to get carried away in aggressive expansion when times are good. But like everything in life, there are ups and downs, so it is also important to take into consideration risk and worst-case scenarios.

At the end of the day, keeping a business running and supporting the lives of your employees, no matter how big or small the business is, is already an amazing accomplishment.

For 2022, we are looking to stablize our back-end operational capabilities and pursue digitalization to support prudent growth in the years to come.

Rolando B. Hortaleza

Chair and CEO

Hortaleza Group of Companies

2021 showed that efficiency is the key, with or without the pandemic.

How we addressed efficiency within the Hortaleza Group of Companies enabled us to temper the effects and survive the crises brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. We even have recorded growth in our sales and expanded business portfolio as well this 2021.

For 2022, we need to grab opportunities with the re-opening of economy and the much-anticipated consumer revenge spending. Application of technology in how we do our business is also one of the focal points of our strategic directions for 2022.

We also want to be present in the digital space where consumers shifted.

2022 will be an opportunity for all business to rethink their models of engagement with the consuming public, and the Hortaleza Group is not going to miss this chance.

Ramoncito S. Fernandez

President and CEO

Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Maynilad faced dual uncertainty in 2020 due to the government review of our Concession Agreement (CA) and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations. This put us in a difficult spot because the CA review limited our access to credit, forcing us to recalibrate long-term plans so we could preserve cash for critical projects, even as we extended deadlines for bill payments during the lockdown for humanitarian reasons.

Notwithstanding these challenges, Maynilad never lost sight of its mission to provide water and wastewater services for over 9.9 million customers. It was this strong focus—along with perseverance drawn from a “we can do this” mindset—that enabled us to sustain operations despite the constraints.

One of our priorities for 2022 would be to sustain the shift to digitalization not only for our operations but also for customer experience enhancement through the diversification of service delivery channels, introduction of paperless billing and provision of better access to service information, among others.

Another priority for Maynilad is sustainability. Moves are all in line with the joint undertaking of the MVP Group of Companies to attain net-zero carbon by 2040.

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Nina Aguas

Chair

Insular Life

For 2022, the priorities are: Technology. In the realm of transforming digitally, those projects that seemed optional in the past have become priorities in order for the business to thrive. This highlighted the focus of companies to invest in initiatives that make it easier to do business with customers through the aid of technology.

Our digital presence is critical given the lingering presence of the pandemic and we are looking at many ways to get to our desired state fit for purpose.

Return to work. For all the convenience and productivity technology gives us, however, I could not overstate the benefits of our face-to-face interactions at the office. The proximity allows a higher level of engagement and collaboration and the degree of shared experiences at the workplace build a culture that allowed us to serve our customers in nimble way.

Antonio L. Tiu

President and CEO

Agrinurture Inc.

2021 tested my resiliency and pushed my capacity to prevail over the uncertainties brought about by a pandemic-burdened world.

I’ve learned that patience is indeed a virtue, especially for one who believes in the inevitability of better years ahead.

2022 is a year of expansion, as I will continue to expand new markets and opportunties beyond the Philippines. Our companies will pivot from a “what now” mentality to a motivated “what should be and what must be” thinking.

To me, there is simply no other way to go. Innovation and strategic expansion are keys to a reinvigorated new year.

John de Guzman Tarampi

General Manager

Flash Express Philippines

In 2021, we learned a lot about pain points with regards to logistics services here in the Philippines, especially of our MSMEs whose businesses are greatly affected by their delivery partners.

While Flash Express is relatively new here in the Philippines, we have carefully studied areas where Flash Express can strategically enter to improve the logistics industry, help Filipino entrepreneurs and boost the economy and employment.

Our plan also is to be the household brand name for all Filipinos when it comes to their deliveries.

Berg Go

Director

Grit Motors

My biggest lesson in 2021 is you need to thrive. For this you need several pillars. Be well. Practice synergy. Be consistent.

We are already limited by time and space, however, we can be further limited by how well we are. Our physical and mental health matters so we need to pay attention to them. We need not only to live with the pandemic, but be well and alive during this time.

Practice synergy. Our businesses work because we do it together as the GO Team. Our attitude is to keep going despite the circumstances by using each one’s strengths. Be consistent, daily. Big goals are not achieved overnight, but you can work on them day by day.

Our priority for 2022 will be to continue to strengthen the brands we started working with in 2021, namely Vespa and Royal Enfield, alongside our real estate business by adding value to the projects we are going to execute.

Glenn Yu

Chief Executive Officer

Seaoil Philippines Inc.

I learned that culture and values are two things that you cannot do virtually … these are learned through experiences and interactions that are in person.

For 2022, our focus will continue to be on serving our customers and understanding what their needs are as we move out of the pandemic.

Manuel A. Gomez

President

Asia United Bank

Since Day 1 of our operations, Asia United Bank (AUB) has always focused on digital technology as an enabler so that our customers can differentiate the AUB brand of service from others. So when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to join the digital world, AUB was already in the digital race.

More than technology, however, we found that culture is what truly enables us to face the unique challenges of the pandemic. Our people are our most valuable asset. Our desire to rebuild the economy and jumpstart businesses cannot be done without people who are dedicated and focused.

Martin Yu

Director

Shopee Philippines

Shopee has always been quick to adapt and respond to the needs of our communities.

For 2021, our focus was to ensure our communities continue to have access to essentials, while supporting economic recovery by helping businesses adapt and navigate the challenges brought by the pandemic.

We also worked on strengthening the capabilities of our platform and internal teams to support this goal.

Our biggest takeaway over the past year is that there’s still room for our local MSMEs to grow and evolve in the digital economy.

That is why for 2022, our goal is to further our mission to make e-commerce for everyone by pushing out more initiatives that will enable businesses to grow and thrive online while ensuring we address the needs of our shoppers. This includes programs that will enable more Filipinos outside of the big cities to transact online, on-board more local MSMEs and even push digital payments for all through our integrated mobile wallet, ShopeePay.

Maricel Brion-Lirio

President and CEO

Filinvest REIT Corp.

There are so many lessons to learn from the pandemic, but many of these served as reminders rather than lessons.

On the business side, I personally learned how to harness digital technology for work, employee health (e.g., use of wellness apps), and socializing. I learned to communicate more and celebrate accomplishments and progress the digital way. I adapted to the new way of working virtually.

As for priorities, these are aligned with the reminders and lessons of 2021. At work, we will continue to embrace digitization, the “next level” way. Thinking out of the box, being open to change and being agile. We need to balance speed that is designed to make us efficient and effective with what can work in our culture and system.

Of course, pursuing our sustainability goals remains a priority for Filinvest REIT, which takes pride in being one of the “Sustainability Company of the Year” in the recent Asia CEO Awards. We need these sustainability goals done systematically with digitization.

Marivic Españo

Chairperson and CEO

P&A Grant Thornton

As attested to by most businesses, 2021 marked a significant tonal shift. We went from simply looking for practical solutions in 2020 to address unexpected situations resulting from the pandemic, to slowly but surely finding our footing towards more sustainable practices.

The pandemic has taught us that being grounded on our core values (CLEARR for Collaboration, Leadership, Excellence, Agility, Respect and Responsibility) allowed us to be of one mind and have a united front in addressing the needs of our stakeholders and in ensuring successful business continuity.

We have also seen that creating an environment where our people and clients can effectively work together contributed to the performance of services to our clients. The impact of collective passion, fueled by determinative action, really struck home with me. Going beyond business as usual was a shared commitment among our people and clients.

As markets recover, our goal for 2022 is to utilize our existing expertise and capabilities to meet businesses’ needs to get back to their growth paths. The focus of providing genuine care to our clients intensifies as we continue to fulfill the role of business advisor for these dynamic companies.

Clinton Andrew Campos Hess

Vice chair of the Board

and Group CEO

United Laboratories Inc.

At Unilab, we are privileged to have forged a stronger and more impenetrable bond with our partners—united by spirit and purpose—to deliver best-quality vitamins and medicines to our countrymen despite the challenges laid before us.

Filipinos can count on Unilab and our partners to live out our shared purpose: to build a healthier Philippines one quality medicine at a time, and ensuring world-class quality and affordable health-care solutions are within every Filipino’s reach.

Jose Vicente L. Alde

President

Philippine Savings Bank

Resilience is largely a function of strong financial fundamentals and the organization’s agility in response to unexpected shocks brought by a crisis such as COVID-19.

On the back of a robust technology infrastructure and a culture of “maaasahan,” PSBank was able to quickly and successfully adapt to drastic changes in the market requiring adherence to safety protocols, WFH arrangements, flexibility in work assignments, and a shift to digital banking and other contactless service platforms.

Equally important in such a situation is to show sincere empathy, understanding and consideration to both customers and employees which in the long run are key to achieving lasting relationships and brand loyalty.

For 2022, we shall further strengthen our digital capabilities focusing on what is relevant to both our customers and employees. We will be at the forefront of emerging business opportunities given the changing business landscape. The health and safety of all our stakeholders will remain a priority as we continue to be vigilant and flexible in meeting the challenges ahead.

Dino Bate

President and CEO

Col Financial Group Inc.

My biggest takeaway from 2021 is that digitalization has plenty of benefits, but it also has its downside. It enables us to reach people more easily today, but it’s not an assurance that you’re building a deep and valuable relationship with them.

We need to put more time and effort in creating and maintaining these relationships so we can go beyond having a surface-level connection with people.

Going into 2022, this is something we’re focusing on for our customers and our employees. We have to think about how to move forward in a hybrid structure, so we can take advantage of the benefits of digitalization while also cultivating the strength of our relationships.

Ariel P. Fermin

President

Max’s Group Inc.

COVID-19 has given us the gift of clarity on who we can become, perhaps more than who we are known for—and what we can do, as we now work on things which we would not have even imagined doing. Mental agility is a huge part of our game. What got us here won’t get us there.

For 2022, our overall theme for Max’s Group Inc. revolves around the narrative of balancing continuity and renewal. We have some of the most loved brands in the food industry with our rich heritage. Our job is to nurture and refresh them for the next generations. We are pivoting MGI beyond restaurants, as we also estalbish our foundation on being merchants and manufacturers of food.

Tony del Rosario

President

Coca-Cola Philippines

The year 2021 continued to be a challenging year, we were laser-focused on meeting the ever-changing needs of the people who enjoy our products, as well as the needs of our employees, customers and retail partners.

This year, we continuously pivoted our plans by increasing our presence and availability in many online and e-commerce sites—making our products easily accessible to the many Filipinos who continue to stay at home.

What I see that’s a bit different this year is the hope that a better year awaits us as we see progress with regard to vaccination and the resumption of several business operations.

For us at Coca-Cola, our century-long history of facing challenges globally has given us the unique opportunity to realize that things will eventually get better.

As we move forward to 2022, we recognize that there will be new challenges that we will have to face.

However, we remain commited to invest and grow our business in the Philippines, and we will continue to stay true to our purpose of refreshing people and communities, not only through our products, but through the sustainability programs and partnerships that aim to make a positive impact on the lives of Filipinos.

Michael Breen

Managing Director

Ford Philippines

One of the biggest lessons in 2021 was about staying resilient. The pandemic has definitely affected a wide range of industries, including automotive, and brought about a number of challenges in the economy, government policies, jobs and consumer spending.

Resilience among our employees, dealers and business partners enabled Ford Philippines to rise to the challenges to serve our customers—that’s what being “built Ford tough” means to us.

In 2022, our priority is to bring our segment-leading Ford vehicles and service offerings to Filipino customers.

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary in the Philippines in 2022, we are excited to offer new Ford vehicles and service innovations that customers will surely appreciate and enjoy.

We also commit to enhancing the Ford ownership experience by delivering meaningful connections with our customers. We aim to treat our customers like family.

This means that we will really take the time to listen and get to know them, then find ways to enable their goals and aspirations through our vehicles.

Kais Marzouki

Chair and CEO

Nestlé Philippines

This year, we learned that in the face of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, in a highly volatile environment, we can pull through by working proactively as a team. Not by being passive victims of adverse circumstances, but by recognizing that each of us has a role to play in pursuing recovery and progress, in the process looking after our well-being and each other.

In 2022, as the “Kasambuhay” of Filipino families, we will continue to service our consumers and customers. As a force for good in society, we are deeply committed to further strengthening our advocacies in the areas of nutrition, health and wellness, supporting communities and pioneering efforts to improve our environmental footprint.

Dean Ding

CEO

J&T Express Philippines

The year 2021 has been a challenge for everyone because of the pandemic. As the pandemic immobilized many businesses, J&T Express was able to surpass the adversities and set its best foot forward to adapt to the current situation we are facing.

J&T Express has successfully helped its customers and MSMEs with our delivery service.

As we move forward, another biggest learning is the importance of “bayanihan.”

For 2022, J&T Express is ready to go beyond normal and create never-ending possibiltiies for growth and innovation in our express delivery service.

Eulalio D. Lorenzo

Founder

EDL Group of Companies

This year has taught me a different life lesson: learn to ride with the momentum rather than perfect it.

This period of pandemic has surfaced our resilience and tenacity as a company. But more so, it has also taught us to consider right timing in doing an action.

This means accurate calculation of the situation, and doing an immediate decision is integral in getting the best results. Perfecting a solution has to take a back seat and let immediate action to a given situation take the lead.

My plan for next year is to be more focused and consistent with the business strategies we have started. We will engage all our team members to be on board with the enhanced vision and direction of the company. We will innovate policies that will make our customer experience better.

Our customers and people will always be our top priority.

Atsuhiro Okamoto

President

Toyota Motor Philippines

We were confronted with a lot of challenges in the past two years that strengthened us and have reminded us that by working together as one Team Toyota Philippines, we have what it takes to bounce back and surge forward.

The Spirit of Challenge and the value of continuous improvement in the Toyota Way have consistently reminded us that the way forward is to better ourselves and strengthen our capacities.

During the lockdown, TMP had to temporarily pause its sales and production operations to priotize everyone’s safety. This also allowed us to revisit our systems and processes and gave us an opportunity to reflect on the different aspects of our operations and transformed the way we make things.

We face 2022 with optimism, with more motivation to continue our transformation to become a mobility company covering our digital transformation and creation of new mobility solutions. INQ

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