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A common wail of nearly all organizations in our country is the exodus of their employees – managerial, professional and technical, skilled and semi-skilled – to other companies, here and abroad.  Filipinos are much sought-after; human resource seems to be our country’s #1 export in recent years.  The situation is reaching crisis proportion.  Many companies don’t have “ready-now” or even “ready in one or two years” candidates to take over senior leadership positions when the present occupants retire or migrate.  Companies make enormous investments in recruiting and selecting college graduates and in developing them to be in their talent pool of successors, only to lose them to another company, or to another country.

Organizations don’t have enough human power to propel its growth and stability.  Our country doesn’t have the talents and skills needed for nation building, “upang umunlad ang ating bayan.”

The centerpiece of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Career Systems, Inc., a management consulting and training company, on June 19, 2008 was the presentation by a panel of high-powered HR practitioners from prestigious companies, of their  company’s strategies to attract the best and the brightest college graduates, developing and managing them, and retaining them.

panelspeakersSPEAKERS and organizers of Key to Retention and Management of Filipino Talent; John Victor Tence of Jollibee Foods Corp.; Ruiz G. Salazar of Johnson and Johnson Phils., Inc.; Josefina O. Santamaria, president of Career Systems, Inc.; Rose Marie B. Lazaro, chair of CSI Inc.; Renee Cecilia Valdez of Nestle Philippines Inc.; Lourdes E. Carrasco, formerly of GlaxoSmithKline Philippines; Geraldine A. Baricaua and Jorge G. Santamaria of CSI.


Recruiting Talent. “The war for talent continues and is now stronger than ever!“ was the open declaration of Ms. Renee Cecilia Valdez, Nestle Philippines’ Learning and Development Head and HR Partner, Food and Beverage Business Units and Sales, and one of the four speakers at the Career Systems’ forum.  She quoted the McKinsey Quarterly January 2008 issue which carried a strong advice to organizations to “constantly rethink the way [the organizations] plan  to attract, motivate and retain employees” and to “make talent a strategic priority.”  Generation Y appear to be flight risks.  To them, there is no such thing as corporate loyalty.  They are ever on the lookout for greener pastures.

Mrs. Lulu E. Carrasco, formerly HR Head of GlaxoSmithKline Philippines cited a study by a research organization on the factors that attract young talents into an organization.  These are:  competitive and attractive compensation and benefit package; being provided with a new car and “techie” gadgets; prospect of working with  a reputable company; fixed hours; and prospect of global posting.  The high potentials (a.k.a. hi-pots) want constant challenge and frequent career moves; and have the “what’s next” mentality.

To survive, grow and succeed in today’s global environment, organizations need to constantly strategize how to attract the best and the brightest, and provide them with opportunities to acquire new and more skills, and hone their talents, with a compensation and reward system they can afford.

The companies showcased in the forum shared similar strategies to attract talent not only from the generally recognized Top 3 universities   in Metro Manila but also from other centers of excellence in cities outside Metro Manila and even in the provinces.  These strategies include:  campus recruitment of junior or senior college students who have impressive academic and extracurricular credentials;  giving them summer internship, during which they are exposed to decision making strategies as they work in teams on actual projects; marketing the company as a market leader and as having a good reputation in the industry; etc..

These organizations have a template of the talent they want, and the kind of leaders they want to develop.  Leadership competencies are clearly defined. So their recruitment and targeted selection procedures are focused on identifying and getting these “raw materials” from our educational institutions.

Developing Talent. Once  hired, these young bright and eager ones go thru intensive management training and immersion-into-the culture process.  Mr. Ruiz G. Salazar, who holds a dual role as Johnson & Johnson’s HR Director – Consumer ASEAN and HR Director, Consumer Asia Pacific Talent Management, described J & J’s incubation process as one that provides and keeps their their talent “in a favorable environment for development.”  The  talent incubation  “assembly line” has made J & J Philippines, Inc. the #1 Exporter of Talent into J & J global human resource network.

The most common development strategies used are:  management  and leadership training (local and international), coaching, mentoring, secondments, cross-functional assignments, performance feedback, 360 degree feedback, career discussions, developing leaders as coaches, etc.  Mrs. Carrasco describes GlaxoSmithKline’s adherence to VIDA model (variety, intensity, diversity and adversity)  in developmental assignments to “toughen” their talent pool.  Mr. Salazar described Johnson & Johnson’s leadership  development framework which is centered on J & J’s Credo and Values which are the bases for their standards of leadership.’  All four HR practitioners emphasize the importance of not only person and job/career fit; as important is the person and culture fit, in their leadership development strategies.

Retention Strategies. Mr. John Victor Tence, Jollibee Foods Corporation’s Corporate VP for HR,  shared the findings of an international research agency as to the reasons cited by  high potentials for leaving their companies.  These are:  being offered higher base pay, and better career opportunities, they don’t want to have too much stress in their work, and poor leadership of their immediate boss.

Successful retention strategies have diminished the poaching and piracy of talent by local companies but do not decrease migration to other countries.  This is because the dream of many Filipinos is to get out and try out the life and career opportunities in other countries.  Living and working abroad in pursuit of a better life, especially in the North American countries, remains the dream of many Filipinos.

This, however, does not diminish the relentless efforts of companies to be creative and innovative in devising and implementing retention strategies.

Retention strategies common among the four companies (e.g., Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Jollibee and GlaxoSmithKline) include the following; ensuring an employee-culture fit; mentoring and being assigned to a mentor or several mentors; regular talent reviews; succession development; global posting and geographical exposures; executive coaching for key leaders; local and international training; etc.

Johnson and Johnson has a FLIGHT (acronym for Forging Leaders Into Greater Heights Together)  program that includes mentor-mentee matching; mentor training, career planning for mentees, regular talent reviews, etc. which have increased engagement  of key talents, among other gains.  Mr. Salazar’s major function is “to take care of J & J talent the best way all the way.”

Values-Based Leadership. A common denominator among the corporate strategies shared by the four HR practitioners to manage and retain talent was  values-based leadership.  The corporate values are clearly communicated to all employees as well as to their external customers by the leaders in top and senior management through their consistent behaviors that are seen and felt by employees in the way they are treated,  how their personal needs are met and their personal values  considered.

Values such as respect for people, recognition of talent, rewarding performance and achievements, treating people as most important corporate asset, etc.  are modeled by top management. In this time of governance and compliance issues amidst stringent business ethics environment,  GlaxoSmithKline’s value of Performance with Integrity  comes foremost.   Jollibee Foods Corporation have two values unique to its culture:  humility and frugality.  Mr. John Victor Tence shared how the young members of the Excom retained frugality as a corporate value when asked to make a choice.  He shared how deeply touched he had been by the humility of the President/CEO of JFC, Mr. Tony Tan Caktiong who, after interviewing  him, asked his HR head, “Am I good enough a leader for JV?” instead of the usual  “Is he good enough for us?”  Mr. Tence set aside a much more attractive offer by another company and accepted the job offer of JFC.

Mr. Ruiz G. Salazar, shared how their retention program responds to the needs and deep seated values of their employees.  He cited three J & J practices:   maintaining a child care center so that young mothers can work in peace while their children are being cared for; once a week, an employee can work in their home; and a hotline which empowers any employee to call the attention of senior/top management to any violation of any corporate value by any employee.

Nestle prides itself in being “a human company providing a response to individual human needs.”  Mrs. Renee Cecilia Valdez shared what Nestle does to make the workplace a fun place by bringing to the office recreation and fun activities enjoyed by employees and their families. Employees are encouraged to enlist themselves in special interest clubs (such as photography, running, cooking, etc.) to join summer programs and themed celebrations; wellness and personal development programs; organized programs for families; among others.

Mrs. Valdez describes the leadership of Nestle Philippines CEO/Chairman Mr. Doreswamy Nandkishore who regularly visits the plants in several locations in the country, and talks with employees on the shop floor.  He holds a regular “talakayan” with the union, and has a regular 1-hour coffee session with employees in every floor in their Rockwell corporate offices.  During these sessions, any employee can bring up any concern or issue and Mr. Nandi would address it.  This open communication practice has contributed to the culture of Nestle that has retention power.  Mrs. Valdez who has been with Nestle for the past 16 years,  proudly declared that 9 out of every 10 Nestle employees are likely to say, “I practice the Nestle values”, “I am proud to work for Nestle”, “I am happy working at Nestle”.

“It all starts from the top!” concluded  Mr. John Victor Tence, at the end of the 2-hour forum.


Josie Santamaria

I’ve been a contractual employee in a government corporation for the past five years now.  I don’t see any chance of being regularized because there has been a  no-hiring policy in our office.  I’ve been moved about from section to section, from department to department, something that I find frustrating, irritating and humiliating.  And I hate the work I’m made to do — all clerical and paper work, which bores me no end.  But I can’t resign because I really need my salary.  I’m married with three children (ages 1, 3 and 5) and my wife is also just a substitute teacher.  I’m 30 years old now.  I am very creative with the computer.  I’ve not been able to use this talent in my present job because I have so many reports from different departments to analyze, to summarize and to submit on deadline dates.

Please advise me what to do.

Mr. Desperate Guy

You are unhappy, and your unhappiness is caused by your “woe-am-I” attitude, your self-pity. You’ve been suffering (you used the words “frustrating”, “irritating”  and “humiliating”) when, by being assertive and proactive, you could have changed your situation at work and in your life.  You are just waiting for things to happen to you instead of making things happen by actively looking for the right job in the right career, both in your present company and outside of it.

You have three options as I see it:  One, continue to do what you are doing now, wallowing in self-pity, being a loser, and suffering in the process.  Two:  actively look for the right job for you in your present organization.  And Three: actively look for the right job in other organizations.

Let’s look at Option #2:  Have you gone to the Personnel or Human Resource Office of your company to ask  them in what way your skills can be used in some departments or in some projects?  Don’t look for a job which, perhaps, does not exist, but where and to whom can you contribute your skills and talent.  Your talent can be used in producing audio-visual presentations, in company brochures, reports, etc. Look for the people in your company that produce AVPs and artistic creations.   Use meal times to find out from your co-employees what they do that can use your computer talent.  In fact, you can be creative in the way you write your reports.  This could catch the eye of the reader.

The talents given to us by God are not meant to be hidden, but to be used so that others can benefit from it while, at the same time, you are honing and sharpening them.  You sound like the third servant in Mt.  25:14-30, to whom the master had given one talent and who kept it instead of investing it as what the other two servants had done.  The master castigated him, had the talent taken away from him and given to the one who doubled the talents given him thru his proactivity and positive can-do attitude.
Let me also tell you that every job position includes doing things we don’t necessarily like doing.  Most sales representatives dislike writing reports but they have to do them so their bosses would know how they are spending their time, what they have accomplished for the day, what are the problems encountered, what opportunities they discovered, etc. People with IT skills may be frustrated interfacing with customers.  A teacher who loves to teach hates giving tests, checking test papers, recording grades, etc. You have to accept the unpleasant things as part of your job.

When you say that your work consists of analyzing and summarizing reports from different sources, and which you dislike doing, what can you do to make these tasks interesting for you?  Since you are creative, make otherwise boring tasks interesting. Be motivated for now by the fact that your boring job enables you to support your family.  Meantime, you can also explore option Three i.e.  actively look for a job elsewhere.  Scout around during week-ends for job openings that require your talent.  Visit Job Fairs in your municipality/city, visit the internet, go to the PESO (Public Employment Service Office), scan the advertisements in newspaper on weekends.  Visit internet cafes and business centers.  Tell your relatives and friends that you are actively looking for a job that utilizes your talents and skills.

Write an interesting resume.  You can use this resume for both internal placement and external job applications.  Make samples of what you can do such as brochures, announcements, newsletters, etc. to show to the Personnel/HR Office in your company, to your co-employees and to your prospective employers.  Be proud of yourself that you have talents and skills.  Show them off.  Who knows, the right door will open up for you soon.

God bless,


Josie Santamaria