September 10, 2012

Working for the Most Essential Company

Bonne journée à partir du Canada!

I am hoping my French is correct. I am not speaking French yet (although I know some phrases - thank you to my Foreign Language professor in College!). I am hearing and reading French and English in this country where I am typing this blog entry now. I have a lot of stories to tell, but I don't have much time to blog since I am traveling for business. 

I just want to share this article I wrote for IBM newsletter which features the company that I am working for, and our General Country Manager. Know more about the company which sends me to different places, and connects me with the different people around the globe.

An Essential Luncheon with IBM Country Manager, and Executives
By Ruth dela Cruz

I can say pass to an event invitation with Phil Younghusband; or cancel an exclusive interview with Derek Ramsey; but I could never say no for a luncheon invitation with the IBM Philippines' Country General Manager, Mariels Almeda-Winhoffer.

It was the exact day the Big Blue was celebrating its 75th anniversary – July 20, 2012. The night before, IBMers welcomed the day with a charity concert and fireworks display. We were like a league with our anniversary shirts on which represents teamwork and positive attitude towards the future.

Media practitioners and technology writers were welcomed in the Malacanang Boardroom - the function room where we usually have our weekly policy cascade and meetings. The mood was light and everyone was excited. Even I, who came from my shift the night before, still have the energy to take pictures, greet the other guests and welcome them in my second home.

Then it was announced - the guests of honors had arrived - but when Dod Peralta, Director, GBS Global Delivery Center; Cassandra Soto, Director, Philippines Delivery, Global Process Services  and Mariels Almeda-Winhoffer, President and Country General Manager arrived in the venue, they turned the tables and gave everyone their sincere and warm welcome.

Click Read More to know why we think IBM is essential..

The three of them each greeted and shook hands with the guests - including me (such an honor!). From the countless media events that I attended, it was the first time I encountered someone holding the highest position in the company welcoming each and every guest and taking time to know them. The two executives were as pleasant as the big boss. Despite stressful jobs, hectic schedule and a big title under their names, they never projected an intimidating presence.

Mariels then welcomed everyone and shared that they chose to hold the event in our humble office instead in a luxurious hotel or venue, to make the guests feel that they are welcome. It is like inviting a guest to one's home.

Mariels shared laughs with the media practitioners during
the Media Luncheon held to celebrate IBM Philippines’ 75th Anniversary

Ms. Cassandra Sotto, popularly known as Candy Sotto in the organization opened the event with a short ice breaker. She shared with us the story behind the beautiful painting posted in the room. She said that every time there would be a client visit, they start the meeting with the introduction of the painting - it depicts the Filipino values that supports the IBM values. Can you name the Filipino values being portrayed in the painting? Take a look and appreciate its beauty the next time you visit the Malacanang Boardroom.

 Candy Sotto shared the story behind the beautiful painting in the Malacanang Boardroom

There is no better way to look back at how IBM Philippines has grown through a video presentation prepared by talented IBMers. It was like riding a time machine watching the history and milestones of IBM Philippines unfolds. The pictures turned from black and white, to colored; until familiar faces were shown in each deck. Popular brands and companies were cited showing their partnership with IBM which significantly strengthens their businesses. 

A video presentation showing IBM Philippines’ history

Mariels being the first female Country General Manager is a true-blue Filipina armed with 26 years of previous experience in IBM US operations.  She is also one of IBM Corp.’s six top women executives worldwide. With her charming smile and eloquence, she impressed the guests with her knowledge and understanding of the Philippine economic state and IBM Philippines' history, including its successes and challenges. 

Agnes Africa, newly appointed Country Marketing,  Communications & CC&CA Leader
Introduces the Executive Team.

She shared how IBM expands its business from being a leading hardware provider to delivering software solutions and outsourcing services. In fact, IBM in New York has identified the country as among its top 20 growth markets globally. 

Mariels has a bright outlook for the IBM Philippines.“IBM’s success has been and will continue to be enabled by transformation through innovation. We will continue to make a positive impact by leveraging on smarter solutions to advance national priorities, collaborate globally to grow our business further and make IBM essential to our clients and stakeholders, here and the world over, 75 years forward.” 

Candy Sotto and Dod Peralta echoed the same aspiration. They breathe the same goals for the company – even during the interview, you can sense the teamwork and understanding among the three – the same way when they did the stage and danced during the charity concert.

Having a little understanding at how Global Delivery Center operates, I find myself nodding with an impressed reaction as Dod Peralta talked about the business under his wings. Over 50 large multinational corporations worldwide from different industries such as telecommunications, chemicals, insurance, retail merchandising, electronics, and utilities are being serviced and supported by IBM solutions.

Candy shares how IBM Global Process Services serves 50 multinational corporations, in 85 countries. The business unit also attends to services needed by other IBM offices in 65 countries from finance/accounting, human resources, supply chain management, and CRM or customer relations management.

Yes, we are indeed Global. We are IBM Philippines, but we have the opportunity to work with different people around the world. I, personally experience working in a global setting – in my regular job – where I work with people from different timezones and geographies; and through the IBM Corporate Service Corp.

Mariels also took pride of the IBM Corporate Service Corp and IBM Executive Corporate Corp, specifically the Cebu road map project which was spearheaded by IBM ECS team composed of top IBM executives from United States, Sweden, Germany and Italy. The project aims to assist on public transportation and urban planning systems.

  Agnes Africa with Owen Cammayo, External Relations Lead

The topic gave way for the team to recognize my presence, being one of the 10 IBMers who had been part of the IBM Corporate Service Corp. I was surprised and humbled being recognized by the IBM Philippines Country General Manager and being asked to probably share my experiences. I could only exclaimed, “oh, I am not prepared” – when what I meant was, IBM Corporate Service Corp is indeeda once in a lifetime experience and the story that I will never get tired of sharing (read my interview here conducted by an IBMer from UK

True to one of the IBM values – Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world, IBM Philippines is now embarking on Research and Development. IBM Philippines has partnered with Davao City to develop a smart public safety operations center with analytics software. In layman’s term, the project is more like a 911 Response Unit that aims to proactively respond to public safety concerns such as crimes, fire, and accidents. This would be the first of its kind in the world.

IBM Philippines continuously grow with the country. News feeds inform us that IBM continuously partners not just with leading companies but also government offices such as Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to assist in addressing national and economic concerns. 

Media practitioners were also given a chance to ask questions to the executive team. Mariels, Candy and Dod answered them with expertise, confidence and enthusiasm.

In between questions, we find ourselves laughing as everyone shared their views about certain topics while enjoying a great meal. Pressing questions show one’s interest and the executive team welcomed and accommodated them.

During intimate events such as this, personal topics would soon be touched. Mariels find herself in tears when asked what are the three things that made her happy and sad upon her arrival in the Philippines. She thought of her dad and shared that she wished she had returned home when he was still here. Seeing this side of her made me admire the woman who is leading this great company. She is just like me and the people I work with. We think of our family, and we love our family. Probably that is one of the reasons why it is easy for IBM to show compassion, to offer help and to volunteer – because everyone shares the same values.

When faced with challenges and failures, Mariels shared with us a positive note. She said that challenges give us an opportunity to improve and to be better at what we do. The recent issue about IBM and SSS didn’t escape from the discussion, but Mariels handled the question with confidence and assurance – The issue has been resolved. We are moving on. And I believe her, and I believe IBM – and I am sure companies and clients believe on us too.

She said that IBM Philippines is continuously talking and meeting with clients for partnership and business deals; and although most of them are confidential information – the evidence is shown with the number of open positions in the organization today. 

A sweet experience and a sweet drink to take home…
The Manila City Hall clock is installed and powered by IBM.

With Owen Cammayo, Agnes Africa, Candy Sotto,
Mariels Almeda-Winhoffer, Marian Castillo and Dod Peralta

I went home with not just a great memory, a nice picture and a nice bottle of wine. I went home with a new strength and inspiration. I am working in a company which aims to be the most essential company to the world, to the country, to the community, customers, people and its employees. How noble it is to care less about awards, recognition and being on the top? I think it is what we do and how we do things that make us essential.

If you like to be part of an essential company, please do drop me a note (, or like Start@IBM  and IBM Philippines on Facebook. 

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