Wednesday, October 6, 2010

People are People (part 1)

I first gained exposure in dealing with people when I was with San Miguel.  I didn't consider my stay with PricewaterhouseCoopers as dealing with audit clients tend to be one-sided, these clients have vested interest in me.  My clients were in their best behavior when i was around, afraid that I might issue a disclaimer to their financial statements! They treated me to lunch, showed me their records upon request, I was their VIP, so to say.  It was with San Miguel that reality smacked me in the face.  That I was no longer somebody's guest.. that I was a mere employee of a big multinational company.

As an auditor, we tend to be idealistic.  What is written per GAAP is the rule, so naturally, I applied my learnings with the biggest manufacturer of liquor in the country.  It started with the expense reports of our salesman.  As a finance personnel, you review the expenses incurred by these frontmen in our industry, and I disapproved some of these claims (e.g. claiming of lavatory expenses, in short, trip to the cr at a posh establishment in Cebu), to the ire of these guys.  These expense reports are approved by the sales manager and routed to finance for final checking and disbursement.  One time, their sales manager called me up, and told me 'Are you Hush?' 'Yes, sir' was my response.  'Who are you to disapprove the expenses that I approved??'.  It was a blow to my face.  I immediately ran to my finance head and laid down the cards why I did such a move before that sales manager could call her up.  It was with my finance head that I got moral support, she explained to me that what I did was correct, that we are the check and balance of the organization.  Without her, I would have been demoralized.  With this strong foundation implanted in me, I learned I would have to face more intimidation as I stepped up the Corporate ladder.

Since the economy that time was bleak (hmmm.. I think this still applies now hehehe), there were rumors that the finance organization in our division for both Visayas and Mindanao  were to be merged.  Employees were biting their nails and when the Company offered early retirement, majority of them availed, my head being one of them.  So the Company was looking for someone to step up to her shoes, and I was picked together with a Davaoeno lady to vie for that position.  She had with her 4 years work experience in the Company while I only had a year, but she didn't have any exposure to the manufacturing aspect of our Company and this was the critical advantage I had over her and my winning streak that landed me the coveted role (plus I did dress to impress the Corporate bosses, she didn't even donned a blazer!).  The day after, she tendered her resignation, and I was crippled with one leg for our Mindanao operations.  My boss in Manila said to let her go, and that she might be emotional over the outcome of the promotion.  If people decide to leave the organization, let them be, it is futile to hold on to somebody who you know have grudges already.

Manning the VisMin Finance was hard.  Literally hard.  I had to work from 8am to 12mn, to catch up on deliverables.  I learned what it was to be a Corporate slave, flying back and forth from Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Boracay and other parts of VisMin, but what took a toll on me was the morale of my team.  I had only 1 staff in Mindanao, 1 in Western Visayas, 1 in Eastern Visayas and 3 in Central Visayas.  I knew at the back of my mind that they want out, but I had to find ways to persuade them not to.  Staff were crying with the undeserved poundings of sales personnel and I had to set discussions with these people.  Logistics was unbearable and couldn't account for the variances in inventories and meetings were always a debate on the whys and whens of the problems faced by the Plant.  Aside from this, my boss took a 'liking' in me and decided to send me out to Manila to attend a court hearing (the defense attorney even asked: 'how old are you?', I responded, '24'. 'Aren't you young to be handling the Finance Division?' which was of course objected by my lawyer hehehe).

One time, a staff of mine approached me that he was not able to accomplish his task.  My mind was full of things and in my annoyance, I literally did the work for him, having Lloyd stand at my side to see how simple it was to do.  Lloyd then lamented that how come he is not that good enough to do such task and when he sees me doing it, it seemed simple enough..  My heart melted.  I was not considerate with him, that I didn't take into account that he was just a fresh graduate, and despite him being a CPA also, he didn't have the training I had over the years.


I learned that the most difficult task in any organization is not the worksheets and computation that you do, it's the people.  I've outlined the basics.  People tend to intimidate you when they know they have something that you don't, and get emotional when things don't go their way.  We need to persuade them when matters go amiss while considering that each individual have their own unique profiles. 

I'm not a people-expert, but it's noteworthy to review on my experiences when the the time comes when I need them.

My Manila encounter next.  Believe me, Cebu and Manila orientation is way way different.

Hush, hush for now*

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