Keep ears to the ground to come up with helpful solutions, Filipina tech leaders say


Keeping your ears to the ground and sincerely listening to what people say allows you to come up with helpful solutions, according to Filipina tech leaders who participated in a forum organized by local startup enabler QBO Innovation Hub.

“I really empathize with women who have to juggle responsibilities. It is a struggle,” said Grace T. Vera Cruz, president of mobile technology company Grab Philippines. “I love compassion as a word, and we live it [at Grab].”

Grab employees with children can talk about coping mechanisms, working from home, and other concerns in a forum called Parents at Grab. Drivers can also check in and discuss their concerns through Zoom calls and Facebook live events.

Telecommunications company PLDT, Inc. meanwhile, asked employees what they needed and gave them what they asked for: vitamin C and masks, early in the pandemic; chairs, when the disadvantages of not having a proper home office started surfacing.

“Six months into the pandemic, everyone asked for chairs,” said Katrina L. Abelarde, first vice-president and head of PLDT-Smart’s International Carrier Group. “Apparently, a lot were sitting on beds and it was giving them backaches. We tried morning workouts but that didn’t work out, so we gave away chairs.”

Reaching out also proved beneficial to Frontlearners, said Elaine P. De Velez, co-founder and chief executive officer. The education technology (edtech) company tweaked its e-learning content and learning management system to make it more relevant to its school clientele.

Ms. De Velez said there was a forced migration to digital last year as many schools grasped at learning continuity. For some customers who had been using the platform for years, it was business as usual. For others who had only recently come onboard, the company proved to be a welcome solution. “Some schools had no I.T. (information technology) department,” she added, “whereas others had an I.T. department but no edtech component. We reached out to them in whatever stage of technological adaptation they were in.”

Talking things through with people you trust, enabling people to succeed, and inspiring others by being the best person you can be are among the pieces of advice Ms. Vera Cruz shared at the online event.

“We want to leverage what we have to empower everyone to fulfill their own missions and also solve the problems they might have in their lives,” she said. — Patricia B. Mirasol