|Dr. Bernie Villegas - Economist|
The Philippines’ engines of growth, Villegas says, has nothing to do with politics. “We have the more than 10 million Filipinos sending $28 billion a year, which increases at three to five percent annually, as well as the high earnings of the BPO sector that’s now at $18 billion and growing annually at 18 percent—that’s the amount of purchasing power you have in the hands of Filipinos today, and these are all independent of politics,” he states.
It is precisely because the Philippines is now one of the fastest growing economies in Asia that the country is facing the urgent need to develop more leaders within business organizations—across all levels. “If we’re growing, we have to make sure we have the right leaders in our corporations,” Dr. Villegas says.
As the pace of business quickens, there is a common tendency for organizations to focus on immediate business concerns and pay less attention to such systemic issues as leadership development that ultimately drive long-term success. According to Dr. Villegas, this is exactly what is happening in most businesses in the Philippines. “A lot of companies do not really plan for succession. I’m concerned that some corporations keep on recycling executives who are already in their 70s—it’s evident that management development isn’t being given a lot of priority,” he says.
Leading the way
To keep pace with the changes happening within the region, Philippine organizations need to arm their people with the skills to not only meet the challenges presented by the ASEAN economic integration, but, more importantly, to leverage on the free flow of goods and services within the member states.
“We need to get more and more managers who will follow the example of leaders the likes of Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP)—he’s testament to how a Filipino executive can excel even in companies outside the country. But MVP is just one—we need a thousand more of him,” Dr. Villegas says.
Development must focus particularly on the younger population, especially since the Philippines is in the middle of a demographic sweet spot where 70 percent of Filipinos are currently below 30 years old. “We have the lowest median age in Southeast Asia at 23 years old, which means that 50 percent of the population is below 23. We need to highlight role models for the youth,” he says.
It is in this regard that the Asia CEO Awards plays a crucial role. Held annually, the Asia CEO Awards shines the spotlight on management teams and individuals who have made significant contributions to help build the Philippines into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. One of the largest events of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, the Asia CEO Awards promotes
leadership excellence and team-building within organizations and highlights Filipino business accomplishments to the world’s business leaders.
In light of the coming ASEAN integration, the awards expanded its reach this year to include the entire ASEAN business sector. “The ASEAN integration will be a game-changer not only for the Philippines, but for the entire region. The awards role of presenting to the business world the types of executives they should aspire to develop—across all industries—has never been more important. If we don’t develop good Filipino leaders, then we won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunities the AEC presents,” Dr. Villegas says.
Who will win?
Having been a judge since the Asia CEO Awards began in 2010, Dr. Villegas points to the sterling traits he and his fellow judges would be watching out for to narrow down the winners this year.
“First of all, they have to be good executives,” he says. “They have to know how to make use of resources to produce results. You can have a lot of people who are good in talking—and you see this a lot in government—but when they are put in executive positions, they don’t know how to actually implement projects. If they’re going to be executives, they have to make decisions on the basis of the right information, the right advice, and so forth.”
The moment executives rise to the top, Dr. Villegas avers they must possess three talents: People development, strategic thinking, and institution building. “These skills require really appreciating what is happening to the world, the region, and in the country. Good executives see the bigger picture—they think toward the future. They build institutions, such that when they’re no longer around, the organizations will continue. Success will be sustained. These are what we look for in good executives,” he shares.
With nominations currently ongoing until September 28 for this year’s Asia CEO Awards presented by PLDT Alpha Enterprise, Dr. Villegas and his fellow judges are finding it harder and harder to choose winners every year. “This makes for a really good story,” points out Richard Mills, chairman of the Board of Judges of the Asia CEO Awards. “We’re seeing more and more young leaders rising in the Philippines, and they possess skills that are at par with global standards. It has been our primary goal to promote the Philippines as an attractive investment destination and a valuable source for potential leaders. The fact that it becomes even more challenging each year for us to come up with a winner out of all the quality nominations we’ve been getting, speaks a lot about the progress made in human resource development in the country,” he says.
Dr. Villegas and Mills, who co-founded the Asia CEO Awards and the Asia CEO Forum from which the awards event sprung, will be joined by high-profile leaders in the Board of Judges, including Don Felbaum, former president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Edward Chang, president of the Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines; John Casey, former president of the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines; Jun Palafox, principal architect of world-renowned architectural design and planning firm, Palafox Associates; and Oscar Sanez, San Miguel vice president - International, and former CEO of Business Processing Association of the Philippines.
Now on its sixth year, the Asia CEO Awards will have 10 categories, including Oracle Technology Company of the Year; CSR Company of the Year; SPi Global Young Leader of the Year; Shore Solutions Most Innovative Company; NEC Quality Company; Jones Lang LaSalle Expatriate Executive of the Year; Smart Communications Global Filipino Executive; Meralco Top Employer Organization, and the KPMG Executive Leadership Team. There are also two new award categories, namely the Hospitality Award and the First Carbon Solutions Green Company of the Year award.
The 2015 Asia CEO Awards will be held November 11, 2015 at the grand ballroom of the Marriott Hotel Manila. Deadline of nominations is on September 28, 2015. To nominate and learn more about the awards, log on to www.asia-ceo-awards.org.