I recently hired a Dutch IT manager to run one of our Philippine offices. Yempo’s philosophy is to ensure there are role models for Western business etiquette and communication style. Ronnie van Gelder left his home and his job of 10-years in Holland and relocated half way around the world to join us and become one of our role models.
Ronnie’s first two weeks were spent in our Cebu office, getting to know all the Yempo back office staff and making sure he had an understanding of the company culture. In spending so much time with him, I was delighted to recall my own experiences as a fresh arrival in the Philippines. A country colonised by the Spanish, Japanese and Americans, the Philippines has an adaptable and versatile culture and it is easy to feel welcome. English is widely spoken, and spoken well. There are Oreos, Weet-bix, Milo and Doritos in the supermarket. The weather is warm, the vegetation lush and expat accommodation is spacious and comfortable.
There are lots of new things to learn of course. Our two weeks were spent comparing prices between Philippine Pesos, Australian dollars, and Euros, with interesting conclusions. Alcohol is inexpensive here compared to Australia, where there are high taxes, but is more expensive than in Holland. I have never driven on the right side of the road so I don’t drive myself here, but driving rules are the same for Ronnie. Some turns of phrases that I now use myself are unfamiliar to him. The experience of seeing this country through the eyes of a newcomer brought the excitement of my own 2009 adventure back clearly, and also gave me some insights into what drives me in my business.
It’s no secret to people who know me or follow my posts that while my background is in Information Technology Engineering, my passion has shifted. I enjoy working with people, providing them with opportunities and seeing them grow and develop in their new roles. I could have hired a local expat for Ronnie’s role but the opportunity to provide someone I already knew with a wonderful new experience, to tap into hidden talents, to see their own culture from a different perspective was too good to miss.
This also fits in with our company philosophy – our people are the lifeblood of our business, and we actively seek opportunities for our staff to take on new challenges, and provide support to them if they need guidance. We had two on-the-job trainees in 2015 and they left us armed with real-life work experience, having delivered measurable and lasting benefits to the company. And now I’ve realized the synergy between how I work with my staff, and how I work with my clients.
Most of my clients have never outsourced to another country. I enjoy sharing our model with them and seeing them realise that this is a model they like, that it fits with their culture and enables them to achieve their goals. Some of our clients are start-ups and small businesses looking for marketing services that they can’t afford in their own country. We recently worked with an innovative and professional nutrition and lifestyle business in the US. Over the coming months, we will see a considerable increase in their business brought about by a new logo, new website, and complete social media management services. We provide other clients with the resources to deliver IT services to their corporate customer base. As they grow, we grow. As we grow, we can provide new opportunities to our staff.
Moving from my former corporate life to a business owner brings daily learning and insight, which I enjoy immensely. Understanding that I am on the same journey – a bit ahead, a bit behind – as my clients, strengthens our collaborative relationships. My largest client shared with me on a recent visit to Melbourne that when they were a start-up they appreciated the support of their early clients, and they wanted to pay it forward. They selected Yempo when we were a start-up because they understood where we were on the journey and knew they could support us, just as they knew we would provide them with premium service in order to establish a reputation for excellence.
I thought it would be a lonelier ride than it has been, without the camaraderie of on site colleagues. I have had less-than-ideal relationships with service providers in the past, and now I see that successful businesses operate with synergy and collaboration with their clients and vendors. The rewarding relationships I enjoy with my clients, as well as my staff, are unexpected benefits of having my own company.