Over 70 First Balfour leaders attended the first ever Digital Leaders Conference (LeadCon) from the comfort of their own homes last month, 30 April 2020. Since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was enforced in Luzon in mid-March, many businesses have had to reconsider how to stay connected with their workforce. Most company events had to be cancelled, postponed to a later date, or converted into a virtual event – as in the case of the biannual First Balfour Leaders Conference.
In his welcome message, President and Chief Operating Officer Anthony Fernandez reported that the company, whose thousands of workers are being monitored on a regular basis, remains COVID-19 free. “We must have some strong and serious antibodies. Dugong First Balfour is special,” he shared in jest. He also mentioned the company’s community initiatives including the MetroTent project and ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig Program and closed his speech by saying, “There is a saying ‘Never waste a good crisis’. This crisis is unprecedented in scale and depth. This will change the way the world moves and will alter human behavior. It will change us and our industry, for sure. So let’s learn from this, adapt, and overcome. Hopefully, we’re better coming out of this crisis.”
Return-To-Work (RTW) guidelines were presented by Carlos Pedro Salonga, Corporate Physician Dr. Rhyan Gallego, and Head of Environment, Safety, and Health (ESH) Rey Arce. Once the ECQ is lifted, the RTW Team highlighted that the company will be limiting the re-entry of employees only to those whose functions are mission-critical while the rest will continue to work from home. Among the other items discussed were screening protocols such as a self-assessment questionnaire, administration of a Rapid Antibody Testing (RAT), and workplace surveillance and monitoring. This presentation was followed by guidelines moving forward in terms of commercial management by the Head of Commercial Management Clive Payne.
Leaders were then given updates on the company’s financial health where Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Tansengco shared, “The ability to stretch our cash hinges on the cooperation of everyone. In this new normal that we face, we must always ask ourselves the question of how we can do things in a more efficient manner that somehow optimizes the use of the resources at our disposal.” His message was followed by a more comprehensive look on the cash flow and liquidity management by Head of Accounting Ma. Theresa “Tessa” Villanueva and Head of Treasury Ruth Co, respectively.
The last presentations were quick division updates from MPD Head Malcolm Lorimer, Industrial Projects Division Head Rey Villar, and T1 Rentals Head Levi Dy. Bibi Aquino of HR also briefly talked about a free online counselling facility to ensure employee welfare and wellness. Afterwards, questions from the leaders, mostly on details of the RTW guidelines, were addressed by senior management.
When asked about their key takeaways from the conference, LeadCon first-timer Suzenne Donovan shared, “In a way it was a feeling of ‘Don’t worry, we will get through this. We are in a good position.’ and that I think gave everyone a sense of relief. I definitely was impressed with the amount of legwork that was already being done to address our return to work situation considering it has only been six weeks.” “It was also heart warming to see the extent of assistance being given to the employees during this difficult times,” shared Project Manager Noel Nicdao who joined the conference from his residence in Tarlac. Head of Estimating Raymond Orbase, who already did a quick cascade to his sector leads, also shared, “The LeadCon definitely boosted morale because the senior management was transparent about their plans moving forward. And I know I needed to push this morale down the line to the rest of my team.”