BOARD TALK | iconic

Through ICON’s Lenses: The 59th PMAP Annual Conference

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published October 21, 2022

A call to action and a call for new ways of thinking, doing, and being.

This is how the People Management Association of the Philippines envisioned its 59th Annual Conference. True enough, it was how the attendees received and digested every bit of the prestigious three-day event. However, more than an event full of learnings and potential connections, PMAP's Annual Conference served as a timely event for a right-time kind of transition for ICON.

A shift in paradigm

Just recently, Icon Executive Asia (ICON) underwent a management shakeup and officially named its new Executive Directors, Jay Avenida and Loradel Ang, the executive search firm's then-recruitment partners who have been with the company since its founding. With leadership roles to fill, higher expectations to meet, and more responsibilities to fulfill, Avenida and Ang are eager to learn more and be more. Hence, the two represented ICON as they attended the prestigious Annual Conference of PMAP packed with leaders, managers, and fellow HR enthusiasts and experts.

L-R: Icon Executive Asia executive directors Loradel Ang and Jay Avenida

Filled with a mix of lessons of hope, humanity, and humility, and with the theme 'Co-Regeneration,' the Annual Conference intended to highlight the pivotal role of leaders and people managers in healing and rebuilding our communities into something that's both sustainable and regenerative in the setting of today's 'new normal,' and highlight it did.

Here's a glimpse at Avenida and Ang's key takeaways on leadership and management worth keeping in mind – may it be in the face of adversity or not – that would, without a doubt, shape the way they lead as they face the new chapter of their respective professional lives.

On building an ecosystem of collaboration

Leading a pack is no easy task, and with the pressure and expectations that come with it, it's easy to get lost in the demands of leadership and the power one in position holds. With this tendency, numerous speakers, such as Energy Development Corp. president and COO Richard Tantoco and Ayala Foundation Inc. president Ruel Maranan, stressed the importance of leading with others in mind. 

Businesses are made of people – people who are a company's most important asset. So, funny as it may sound, the saying "happy wife, happy life" applies well to businesses since happier employees are likely to translate into better company performance. According to the plenary speakers during the conference, the key is to listen to employees' needs and concerns. Sounds simple, but to be able to do so, leaders must learn to create the right music for their people to drum with, hum with, dance with, and sing along in unison. In simpler terms, businesses must work on a culture that gets everyone onboard, lets anyone speak to the mic, pushes everyone to move toward the same goal, and brings out the best in everyone.

Now, that's internal. But if we want to work towards a regenerative system and if we're talking about healing and rebuilding, leaders must keep in mind that just like how their businesses are made of people, so are their competitors. Healthy competition is necessary in any industry, but we are all only humans, so in times of adversity, there is no reason not to come together to support one another in solidarity. 

To add to that are two statements from SEDA Ayala Center Cebu HR Director Diosdado Codoy during the second day of the event: (1) It's better to help rather than be the one in need of help, and (2) Anyone can be a SINALIGAN (trustee) to anyone.

On advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts

Tackling diversity, equity, and inclusion can be tricky to navigate. And although more and more companies have been putting these three into greater focus over the last years, some have been successful, but some efforts fail to address actual bias.

As I said, tricky, but for Maynilad COO Randolph Estrallado, taking the first step towards DE&I doesn't have to be immediately grand. Leaders or managers just need to begin where it matters – their people. Then, it all comes down to culture, so make a way to establish a workplace environment that is open and safe enough for employees to air their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. Let employees feel and speak. Inquire. Ask questions. And even when those at the top and those on the ground don't exactly see eye to eye, literally and figuratively, maintaining open communication from the ground up will be vital in making each individual feel safe and heard in the company. With their concerns out in the open, managers can craft an initiative backed by people's sentiments that makes sense and addresses the actual issues within.

On working on one's self, constantly

As Soyao, ICON's founder, says, "The only thing that is as constant as change is continuous learning."

L-R: Icon Executive Asia executive director Loradel Ang, Icon Executive Asia founder and Board of Directors member Patt Soyao, and Icon Executive Asia executive director Jay Avenida

Indeed, it was what he instilled into Avenida and Ang: to never stop learning. And as the two embark on a new chapter as business partners responsible for steering a company toward greater heights, there's no other timely moment to be more open to all sorts of learning – be it from reading, networking, and even experiencing failure. After all, leaders are lifelong learners, just like many of the speakers at the 59th PMAP Annual Conference and the 2022 Employer of the Year Regional Exemplars. There is always room for improvement, no matter how high up you are on the corporate ladder.

As for me, a media practitioner who only knows so much about the world of human resources but attended a three-day event swarmed with HR practitioners, I find it amusing to see and understand the 'human' in human resources and the humanity in leadership – in the flesh.