From agent to management: Successful career paths in the BPO industry

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


FOR people searching for a rewarding job with opportunities to grow a long-term career, working in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry may hold the key. Agents can grow and develop careers to take on leadership roles, manage large teams and multi-million dollar programs.

The stories of Cebu-based Carlina “War” Uy, Ron Gilo and Caesar Gabut illustrate how being with the top BPO employer opens doors to successful, long-term careers. They started out as call center agents and today hold leadership positions as senior team manager, operations manager, and senior operations manager, respectively. They are part of Convergys, the Philippine’s largest private employer.

Convergys has 55,000 employees today, 12,500 of whom are based in Cebu, including employees of "legacy" Stream sites such as War and Ron. Convergys’ acquisition of Stream earlier this year was celebrated with the theme “Stronger as One” to affirm a shared focus in developing people. Eighty percent of the leaders of Convergys (legacy Stream leaders included) were promoted from within the ranks.

Caesar Gabut with his team
Caesar Gabut with his team

A place to grow

War and Caesar were fresh graduates with degrees in Aviation Electronics and Management Information System, while Ron was an occupational therapist and English instructor when they started as out as agents. Their passion for the work grew as they appreciated the training, camaraderie, and the company’s culture of professionalism and meritocracy.

War shared, “After graduation, I needed to immediately find a job and help my mom financially so I skipped my board exams and landed a job as an agent. What I liked immediately was that I got to do something interesting each day. Also, I received quality mentoring and coaching, which enabled me to do well. In our company, we get paid and rewarded for performance. My growth from agent to subject matter expert, to team manager, and most recently, to senior team manager, were based on my hard work, dedication, and skills.”

Caesar was already a young husband and father in Cotabato City when he started his Convergys career. “While contemplating an IT job in the manufacturing industry, I decided to check out a Convergys job fair in the mall. I had no idea about call center work, but thankfully, I passed the tests. After several interviews, Convergys offered me a job in Cebu -- to be part of the pioneer team that would support a leading global technology brand."

"Accepting that job offer was a very big decision that I made with my family. I explained that I might not be able to see them for a few months as I first made sure that I could support them financially before moving them from Cotabato to Cebu. As soon as I signed my permanency papers, I called them to come over,” reminisces Caesar. “Since then, I have worked my way up from agent to senior manager for operations. My wife is now a stay-at-home mom, and we have three children ages 10, six and four.”

Ron Gilos in his office
Ron Gilos in his office


Paying it forward

The three managers spend a lot of time paying it forward by developing other would-be leaders.

“Working with talented, young people is what I like most about working in the BPO industry. They offer a new perspective, and show much potential to be honed to become great leaders in the future. It’s fulfilling to see how people blossom in this fast-paced, dynamic environment. Every day, you can learn something new and get better at solving problems of varying degrees of complexity. It never gets boring!” explains Ron.

Ron started as an agent in 2004, then moved up to training supervisor, then site training manager, handling all training classes for an entire site, until he earned the operations manager post and became responsible for 350 employees in middle of 2010 – all within just six years.

Crediting his former team leader and teammates for keeping him on track, Caesar says: “I am inspired by the people I work with. Almost half of them are breadwinners, and a good number of them are working students. It makes me happy and proud to be part of a company that enables so many people to put food on the table and complete their studies.”

“Convergys invests a lot in developing people, and I personally dedicate much time and effort in mentoring future leaders,” adds Caesar.

Carlina Uy and family
Carlina Uy and family

Coaching for life

Coaching future leaders in Convergys goes beyond teaching them how to do the job well. War, in particular, shares the importance of time management and planning.

“To find the balance I need to enjoy both realms of my life, I need to set my priorities and goals clearly. I make time for my baby when I get home (That gives the nanny time out as well.), for my husband (We regularly go out for food trips.), for my mom (I take her on bi-monthly spa days.), and for my friends and cousins (We have a monthly badminton game),” War shares.

“I teach people to be resilient and patient, and how to get up when you are down,” says Caesar. “You won’t always get what you want in life -- at least, not immediately. It helps a lot when I share about the times I failed bids for promotion, and how I focused on my development plan in order to qualify for bigger responsibilities. What made a big difference during those times was the support that I got from my manager, as well as from my team mates. It’s important to be there for each other.”

“As a leader, that time you spend away from your desk can be more important than the time you spend behind it,” explains Ron. “Our site director coached me in increasing my presence on the floor as a leader, and in improving my communication style. I learned to spend more time with my people where they were, give them more recognition for a job well done, and share more fun times with them. Being present -- that made the big difference.”

Ceasar sums it up, “What’s good about Convergys and legacy Stream – now together as one – is that they stay committed to providing opportunities for people to grow. When people are promoted, you can be sure they are equipped for it. They are ready to succeed, and they will continue to get the support and advice that they need.” (PR)

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