Pilipinas Shell NextGen Leaders: How these Corporate Warriors turn crisis into opportunities

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In photo from the top row left: Cesar Romero, President & CEO, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation; Steve Quila, Vice President, Shell Lubricants; Donna May Lina, Director, Executive Board, OneLGC – LGC Group of Companies; Zoe Chi, Vice President, J&T Express Philippines. (Second row): Dennis Javier, Vice President, Shell Wholesale Commercial Fuels; Jackie Famorca, Country Business Manager, Shell Fleet Solutions; Karla Delgado, Chief Sustainability Officer, Transnational Diversity Group Inc; Marvin Tiu Lim, Chief Growth and Development Officer, Mega Global Corporation, (Third row): Deflin Angelo Wenceslao, Director, President & CEO, DM Wenceslao Associates, Inc; Raymond Rufino, President & CEO, NEO Office PH; Kathlynn Mila, Executive Vice President, Multysis Technologies, Inc.; Candy Co, Head of Marketing, Green Cross Inc; (Last row): John Aguilar, Host; Lafayette Lim, President & CEO, NCCC Group of Companies; Amor Maclang, Co-Convenor, Next Generation Leaders

By Alithea De Jesus

The axiom, great leaders appear in times of crisis will always remain true at all times.

It is palpable that the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the lives of everyone we know practically on all aspects such as health and safety concerns. Plus the fact that the economic and income uncertainties weighed down on everyone setting back a broad spectrum of businesses.

Much as it tries, the government is still struggling to enforce policies that strike the perfect balance between lives and livelihood. While we know that there’s no perfect way to handle this extraordinary situation which, by all indications, is beyond our control. But we cannot embrace a defeatist attitude. A strong mindset that treads against the worst-case scenario is what Filipino resiliency is all about.

Yesterday, Pilipinas Shell recognized the country’s NextGen Leaders who were able to hurdle and transcend the obstacles along their ways in both personal and business brought by the pandemic.

These young innovators shared their experiences, insights, and hard lessons learned with each other to continue and even expand the transformation they have triggered, cascading into other industries. 

Leading energy company Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation opens up avenues for discussion, information exchange, and collaboration for these NextGen Leaders, in order to recognize and inspire others to follow.  Cesar G. Romero, President and CEO of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation which organized the convention, described the reason that gave birth to this movement: “For all the difficulties COVID-19 has brought, it has also laid the foundation for a more resilient corporate warrior that can forge a brighter future. The past year tested our business systems and resources, but it also pushed the young workforce to reinvent the supply chain with nascent technologies to keep businesses running, transforming their industries for the new business landscape. Their experiences through COVID-19 have made them form insights and strategies to make their communities able to turn a crisis into an opportunity.”

Birth of new leaders

The Next Generation Leaders Gamechangers Industry Forum held on May 12, 2021, which was hosted by three of Pilipinas Shell’s business units: Shell Fleets Card, Shell Lubricants, and Shell Wholesale Commercial Fuels. The goal is to continually identify new emerging leaders and encourage them to future-proof their businesses and further collaborate.  

Stephen D. Quila, Vice President for Shell Lubricants, reiterated that NextGen Leaders are needed because “our own paradigms about leadership, management, and business are undergoing critical shifts. Today is about bridging opportunities, characterized by resilience, anchored on courage and the will to change, especially when we don’t know all the answers. Our resolve will be tested against a backdrop of a continuously changing market landscape. Are we ready for this?  Do we have the culture to power on?  We must all be leaders of change, not just to survive but to transcend change.”

Mobility and economic growth

The virtual forum highlighted the pillars that are at the core of Pilipinas Shell’s business and strategy:  Mobility, Scale and Growth, Innovation and Technology, and Sustainability.  NGL Co-convener Amor Maclang remarked that these pillars can be the guideposts by which today’s young leaders can make tremendous positive contributions to society:  She said, “NextGen Leadership is not just about the leaders today, but for the businesses looking out for the next generation. At the core of the mission is to embed sustainability.” 

During the first panel, “Why Mobility Matters Most in a Resurgence, ” Zoe Chi, Vice President of J&T Express Philippines, acknowledged, “Most Filipinos are purchasing their goods online. The local businesses that rose include surplus clothes and coffee and tea shops, Filipino entrepreneurs went above and beyond their duty and deserve support. J&T Express has been keeping up with this demand, reaching people no matter where they are located.”

Donna May Lina, Director and Executive Board of the OneLGC – Lina Group of Companies, said that the return of mobility should consider the reduction in carbon emissions. OneLGC ensures optimal fuel consumption because it manages a large fleet. “We actually measure fuel consumption and vehicle efficiency—that way we manage resources,” she shared. “The transport industry has a big responsibility in sustainability.”

Karla Delgado, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Transnational Diversified Group, Inc., pointed out that mobility NextGen Leaders must be evaluated from a higher, more holistic perspective. She said, “It is a new way of seeing life and the profound connection between human health and planet heath. Let us put our heads and hearts together to come up with solutions to be able to do what needs to be done in the next decade.”

Changing communities

Collaboration also entered the discussion of the second panel, “The New Face of Livable Communities and Cities Post-Pandemic.” Lafayette Lim, the President of the NCCC Group of Companies, said that a more harmonious way of doing practice is called for:  “The new normal may change customer behavior in the years to come. We partner for greater safety, convenience, easier access, and enhanced sustainability. We are only as good as the ecosystem we are in–we must see each other as partners so we can make our ecosystems flourish.”

Raymond Rufino, Chief Executive Officer of NEO Office PH, said that an increasing number of property developers are going green for the sake of sustainability:  “Forty-percent (40%) of global gas emissions come from real estate. We need to take ownership and be responsible, and commit to net zero which is a growing campaign globally. We need to make sure the people who work in buildings are safe, healthy, and resilient.”

Delfin Angelo Wenceslao, CEO of D.M. Wenceslao and Associates, Inc., said that urban trends are changing with the times, echoing the public’s need for safety, wellness, and relationships. He made this forecast, “About 70% of all humans are going to live in cities. The city is man’s greatest invention. Human beings need each other, and the city should be able to deepen the connections between humans. For example, instead of finding ways for people to cross the street, we make the crosswalks bigger.”

Transformative tech

During the third panel, “How Technology and Digital Transformation are Shaping Business for Maximum Growth,” Marvin Tiu Lim, Chief Growth and Development Officer of Mega Global Corporation, said that digitizing their legacy fishing and canning company prepared them for the pandemic. They also invested in more machine automation in their plants. “We invested rapidly in digitalization and built a new data analytics department,” he said. ‘The more data we have, the accurate our strategies will be.”

Candy Co, Marketing Head of health and hygiene brand Green Cross, shared the lessons she learned from the pandemic: “There is no such thing as business as usual. Accept uncertainty, work with your customer, share in their space, and let them know you are with them.  Agility defines resilience, and internal and external flexibility. Your willingness to innovate will predict your growth and survival.”

Kathlynn Mila, Executive Vice President of Multisys Technologies, advised on the developing technologies businesses should study and implement: “Other than mobile payments, we should adapt AI and chatbox, cloud computing, cyber security, and blockchain technology.”

Jackie Famorca, Country Business Manager of Shell Fleet Solutions, summarized the insights in the forum: “All of these innovations are important in the value chain. The Bayanihan spirit was spot on. We saw how the unexpected challenges and opportunities brought people closer.

We need to leverage on each other’s strengths and capabilities. Shell remains strong. And we want to remain competitive, relevant, and dynamic.”

Before the conference ended, the NextGen Leaders were also given recognition for their contributions that helped their businesses become more resilient and agile, while bringing innovation into their respective industries.

As Dennis C.Javier, Shell Pilipinas’ Vice President for Wholesale Commercial Fuels, acknowledged in handing out the awards, “It takes collective effort to make positive change. The lessons here can have a far-reaching effect on society and governance. The NextGen Leaders must take immediate action to take the industries to the next level.”