Coffee with EIA 2019: Coming full circle by “Driving a Culture of Values”
Gia Mendoza | October 3, 2019
What do you get when you mix a cup of coffee with meaningful conversations? A fun and engaging get together we call Coffee with EIA. As one of the highly anticipated events of the year, the town hall session continues to be an engaging opportunity for A-People as AEV President & CEO Erramon Aboitiz himself sets aside time to chat with Aboitiz team members and hear our thoughts and opinions on matters concerning the organization.
For the past two years, the free-flowing conversation with EIA — the event’s highlight — has touched on our Group Purpose to drive change for a better world (2017) and our brand promise of Advancing Business and Communities (2018). The 2019 Coffee with EIA came full circle with a discussion of the Aboitiz values. These three — Purpose, Promise, Values — are what make up the DNA of an A-Person and the unique culture we call the Aboitiz Way.
The Cebu plenary audience included both AEV and AboitizPower team members, joining forces for a “Coffee and Breakfast with EIA” session that was held in Cebu Country Club. Towards the end of the session was a surprise tribute for EIA.
We can all agree that when we gain a truly individual perspective of our Group Purpose and Brand Promise, we set ourselves on the path towards making a positive impact on the world around us in a more meaningful way. But before we can get onboard with that, we must first truly believe in our purpose and our core values and have a deeply personal connection to them. This is where it all starts.
Let’s look back at some questions from team members that EIA fielded:
Looking back at everything that has happened with Aboitiz, is there anything you would have done differently in order to achieve purpose and strength in our culture?
Regrets that we have are usually the things you didn’t do, not the things you did. Perhaps looking back, I guess you have the advantage of hindsight. I think the growth spurt of the Group could have been managed better if anticipated instead of reacting to needs as they came along. Hindsight is 20/20, but that happened because as we develop and grew and expanded, we stretched the organization quite a bit and that put a lot of pressure on a lot of people.
We have lasted 100 years and we want to last 100 years more. What’s one value we should practice more of to help us stay for the next 100 years?
The four values are equally important, but one value that I think spreads across the other values is INTEGRITY– how we think, do, and deal with people– it covers things like responsibility and teamwork. But you also have the one value that is dear to you, so follow your heart.
What will you do when you retire?
I will still be involved in the board level and give advice to all of you if you want it and need it. That’s always gonna be available to all of you. I hope to not only reduce waistline but also play golf, travel a little bit, see places I’ve always wanted to see and decide after that if there’s still something I want to do. In a conference we attended, they talked about retirement and how retired people end up as empty-nesters, they encouraged my wife and I to read this book called “The Next Season” and it is about retirement and their advice is when you retire for the first few months, do not do anything. People anticipate, plan, talk, and you realize these things are not your passion, but you accept these only because you have a lot of time. So my plan is to rest and then start accepting and getting into things I’m passionate about.
When our actions and decisions are motivated by our core values, it is almost certain that we are helping create an Aboitiz workplace that drives positive results.
What competencies are needed to be a great leader?
It’s basically getting people to believe in what you are doing or what the organization is doing. If you can get the organization to believe and not just do it because they are told, it’s only when you truly believe in it– that’s the role of the leader; to have people believe it. Fostering collaboration and getting people to believe in it and work together.
What is the one piece of advice you will leave to the next CEO and President?
Follow me! [Just kidding] Don’t necessarily follow me, follow your heart. Things are changing and will continue to change. It is important we don’t get stuck in how we do things in the past and live in the past. We have to have an open mind. Follow what you think you have to do.
What is the greatest leadership tip or technique that worked well for you?
I’m the type that talks less. For me, what I feel is a very important management style is management through example. Actions speak much louder than words. You can say what you want, but if you don’t practice it, if you don’t have integrity with what you say– whatever you say is useless. Leading by example, that to me is important.
What are you most proud of as an Aboitiz employee?
What makes me proud is when you go around and people sense through your service, what they experience with you, when they say, “He is an Aboitiz TM, employee”, and they notice the difference. When they look at the service we provide, they know the difference. They feel it and comment on it. When we have our stakeholders realize the difference that we make and they tell it to us, that’s what makes me very proud. Not necessarily just our customers, but everybody! Including the community where they know what the behavior of the Aboitiz Team Member is, they know what to expect from us and that makes me proud because they can differentiate us from other people.
We are fortunate to have a good sense of what our culture is and is not, and we take pride in its unique authenticity. But why is having the right culture so highly coveted? Quite simply, a strong company culture translates to a high level of engagement among team members. When we are fully engaged, we seek to better understand what is expected of us, what we are working towards, or how we can make a truly meaningful impact.
Thank you, EIA, for all the cups of coffee and bits of wisdom you have shared with us!