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Bridging and building a progressive future


Let me first extend the gratitude of the 2023 Board of Governors for the confidence in entrusting to us the stewardship of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP. I convey my personal thanks for giving me this opportunity to be MAP’s 75th president — the fifth woman to lead this organization – with high hopes that during our watch, we can rise to the challenge of leaving a significant mark in the 73-year history of this organization.

We thank the past leaders whose decades of stewardship had brought MAP to where it is today — a premier, independent, professional and prestigious association of business leaders whose insights are listened to, in both the private and public sectors. That includes Fred Pascual and Babes Singson, who jointly headed MAP in 2022. I wish to thank both of them, and their respective teams, for their contributions.

MAP today has a strong membership base of 1,074 leaders who are significant influencers in their respective fields. Its members cut across many industries and their outputs can be felt in employment generation, in sharing gains through corporate social responsibility initiatives and in economic development. Certainly, one of MAP’s biggest contributions is leadership excellence. From among its ranks came many of those who are called for public service and shared their expertise to benefit the country and Filipinos.

CHALLENGING TIMESThe year 2023 will still be challenging — a continuation of the transition years as we try to put our pandemic experience in the rear-view mirror. Now, we must set our sights to what’s ahead with cautious optimism, even as the fight with COVID continues.

The bigger challenge before us will be RECOVERY — not just on the economic front but also in the structural rebuilding of the fundamentals needed to address the impact of the digital transformation and the changing business dynamics in our government on our respective organizations. The growing expectation that business should integrate social responsibility as success indicator places an enormous burden on our shoulders that will need new, transformational ideas and a high degree of collaboration across industries and sectors.

The Management Association of the Philippines can be that lynchpin, the hub if you will, to generate ideas and help make that cooperation happen. MAP today has solidified its standing as a professional, impartial and independent organization, whose advocacies extend beyond its mission to achieve management excellence. We are a voice that is listened to in many socially relevant issues we initiate, support and reinforce in multiple platforms to influence changes for the better.

Preserving these gains is foremost in the minds of your 2023 Board. During its strategic meeting in November, we committed to work on crafting and implementing a two-pronged strategy to significantly contribute to this objective: by bridging and enhancing the internal fundamentals and harnessing our collective strengths to help in building a national future in shared prosperity.

The two-pronged strategy is captured in our 2023 theme, “Bridging and Building a Progressive Future.” This will guide our directions and activities for the year. To give flesh and substance to the theme, we mapped out six priority programs aptly embodied in the acronym B R I D G E.

• We keep Bridging our internal strengths

• Focus on Resilience and recovery

• Initiate and welcome Innovation

• Advocate Diversity, equity and inclusion

• Make a strong push for Growth and people development

• Base our actions on what can contribute to the Environment, social and governance goals

These priority programs integrate the major concerns of our members gathered from the responses in a quick survey in November. The results identified the Top 10 issues ranked according to priority and we duly noted that ease of doing business remains to be the top concern, followed by the economy, energy, climate change, competitiveness of local industries, education, agriculture, infrastructure, environment, social and governance goals and dealing with local governments.

GETTING INTO ACTIONWith the identified key directions of MAP for the year, the Board will work with 30 MAP committees grouped into six clusters. Together with their respective governors-in-charge, they will be responsible for the plans and actions to best deliver results. The programs will be harmonized, tracked and calibrated to maximize resources and generate quick wins.

INTERNAL STRENGTHSThe first Cluster is tasked to bridge the internal strengths. A strong MAP organization will capacitate us to deliver our mandate.  Our collective strengths will enable MAP to lead, be the voice for management excellence, the hub of new ideas and solutions, that can effectively push our advocacies forward.

Today’s MAP is a diverse group in age, gender and professional background. It is the very first time in the history of MAP that four of the nine members of the MAP Board are women. This alone sets a tone.

We have a relatively young Board that can potentially cement what MAP has been desiring to do for years — to create and institutionalize an environment that would bridge and connect the wisdom and wealth of experience of seasoned CEOs, with the new thinking, new ideas, innovations in doing business and new paradigm of the next generation of CEOs. This combined force will enable us to foster thought leadership and collect a wealth of ideas, solutions and business opportunities that are adaptive, transformative, relevant and sustainable.

We will focus on narrowing the generational divide and create an environment of real inclusiveness, true to our management discipline of succession planning. The perspectives between the present and the next generation may differ, but I believe that this is not because we have different challenges, but because we have differing approaches. We have to bridge the gap of understanding, listen without judgment and impatience, and open our hearts and minds to meaningful collaboration.

Our first act, therefore, was to assign next-generation members to be co-vice chairpersons in most committees to give them the opportunity to lead, participate and be immersed in the organization.  As of today, 23 next-gen members have risen to the challenge. That translates to 27% or almost a third of the total leadership posts in committees represented by those whom we hope will eventually take over the reins in the future.  We also keep making strides in achieving gender balance. For this year, we are gratified to note that we are at 44% female to 56% male gender mix of leaders in our various committees.

Building internal strength also mean that we can provide support to our members through timely information that can increase the confidence level in their business planning. We will establish a data map that will make available relevant statistics, facts, figures, policy papers and other research materials that we may all need from time to time.

We will strengthen our linkages with data repositories like NEDA, PSA, DTI and other research organizations that can share their studies with us. I believe that business intuition is a spark that can be ignited when backed by solid indicators. MAP can better serve the members when we can help manage business risks through informed data points.

Because these are core components of our programs, I shall personally head this Cluster. Armed with a strengthened MAP, we shall do our share in Building a Progressive Future.

The Cluster on Resilience and Recovery is headed by Ciel Habito, the former secretary of NEDA under the Ramos administration. His group will persistently pursue the eight-point MAP recommendations that MAP submitted in 2022 to the then incoming administration.

To provide inputs to our members on the business horizon, we will hold an economic briefing on Feb. 8. However, we feel that we can enrich the context of economic prospects if we can identify investment opportunities we can take advantage of, to expand our markets. This year, therefore, we will be introducing an innovation of twinning the briefing on the economy with an investment campaign to be scheduled within the first quarter of the year.

This initiative will be undertaken in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, and solidified through the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

The importance of innovation cannot be overemphasized. Digital marketing expert Donald Lim is a natural choice to oversee this cluster tasked to implement programs to help scale up tech start-ups. It will also provide support to students to turn their technological ideas into actual products and services that will benefit farmers, fisherfolk and the rest of our population.

The Diversity, Equity And Inclusion cluster assigned to cluster head Karen Batungbacal is expected to conduct the third round of the SGV-MAP NextGen CEO Transformative Leadership Program as one of its major undertakings.

This cluster will continue to encourage our next-gen members and leaders to engage through the “4th MAP NextGen CEO Conference.” This is the learning platform where they can discuss the most pressing challenges being faced by their generation and provide an avenue for them to learn from one another.

The Growth and People Development Cluster is headed by Chito Salazar, whose forte is education. Their task is to undertake initiatives and pursue critical reforms to address our education crisis and promote life-long learning.

And fittingly, the Environment, Social and Governance Cluster, which will be headed by Alex Cabrera, the ESG leader of PwC Philippines, will keep us focused on the advocacy and social responsibility dimension of what we all do.

The highlight will be a major mid-year activity we plan to initiate — and that is to bring together the decision-makers in government, business leaders, the academe and NGOs, and other interest groups to connect and collaborate.

In this whole-day event, we have high hopes that the multisectoral discussions will catalyze our common vision to contribute in national recovery and nation building. The output will be a blueprint for shared prosperity.

CLOSINGFriends, we are in for a busy, busy 2023. It may seem to be lofty goals that we set for ourselves but we have a lot of catching up to do, and we can do no less. What gives us confidence is knowing that we have one another’s backs and we have the valuable support and active participation of the MAP community and our partners in government and other business organizations, especially those who are with us today.

I will end by sharing a timely gem of wisdom from one of the world’s famous neuroscientists and an untiring advocate of global harmony and peace, Abhijit Naskar, who said and I quote:

“The holy trinity of tackling crisis is unity, faith and sacrifice. We must stay united as humans above all else, we must have faith in ourselves and in each other, and we must sacrifice our self-obsession.”

In other words, we should think not only in terms of what serves our own interests, but more importantly, in what will serve the greater good. Let us cross the bridge together. I look forward to an interesting and dynamic 2023 chapter with all of you.

This was lifted from the inaugural address delivered on Jan. 31 by the author as the 2023 president of the Management Association of the Philippines.

Dick Du Baladad is the founding partner and CEO of Du-Baladad and Associates.

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