SUN.STAR Marketing writer Patricia Manuelle S. Taboada finds out how rewarding a call center agent’s life is, from a call center trainer who once didn’t want to be part of the call center industry.
Overcast skies loom over Cebu’s sunshine industry, but Jed Justin Narvios is one light that shines through.
There’s a lot to be said about working in the business process outsourcing industry, among so many things: the stress, the long hours, and the seeming lack of career growth and advancement. But, as Jed Justin Narvios points out, “Any job is stressful if one doesn’t enjoy it.”
Putting together Jed’s boundless energy, jolly disposition, and the fact that he has been in the call center industry for over eight years, it’s clear to see that this is one man who truly has fun with what he’s doing.
Sure enough, Jed goes, “It’s fun, you know. It’s very hectic, like two jobs rolled into one person doing it, but it’s very rewarding.”
Jed looks back to the time when he was working in a manufacturing firm. “I used to deal with a lot of machinery. Normally, if the machine does not produce, you have two options: fix the machine or change the machine, right?”
“But in call centers, the biggest resources are not the machines, but the people,” he explains. “If a person cannot produce, you cannot just fix or replace him.”
The mentoring process, according to him, is the art of working in a call center. “The development you do among people, seeing more of the people, and seeing them move up is the most rewarding thing.”
When the call center industry was still picking up, no one knew what a call center was. Nobody paid attention to the call center industry and no one wanted to be in it.
“Why? Because it was just answering phones,” Jed muses, explaining his first impression of the call center industry, “I took up a five-year course, took a very difficult board exam, only to answer phones? That was the notion before.”
But with the boom of call centers in Cebu, being in the business process outsourcing industry is now widely known as a career. A lot of people from other fields shift their outlook and actually succeed in this trade, especially if they excel at developing other people, like Jed, who has found his niche in this industry despite a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.
After graduating in March 2002 and passing the board exams later that same year, he worked as a quality assurance engineer in one of the semi-conductor companies in MEPZ.
However, the travel time it took Jed from his home in Talisay to Mactan forced him to eventually resign and look for a job that was nearer.
In 2003, he found himself joining one of the call center companies that were starting out at that time. Jed worked as a team leader for a year and eventually worked his way up. He was then called by another company, before moving on to American firms and doing consultancy, being invited to attend seminars and public speaking engagements.
“Then, Teletech called me up, asking me if I wanted to join them,” he recalls. “They had a program they wanted to start, and that’s what I usually do, so I was very excited.”
He started out as a senior operations manager and moved up the ladder in just eight months, when he was appointed as site lead, supervising the activities of the entire Teletech Cebu. Two months later, Jed was promoted to program director, overseeing a program, being the site lead and managing the entire Cebu site.
For him, working at Teletech is a great experience. “I saw how much the company has invested in technology to make sure they get the right people and carefully identify those who would fit the company’s needs.”
Having been exposed to different call centers, Jed determines that it’s the culture of Teletech that sets them apart from others. “We have very strong training programs,” he explains. “When I say training, it’s not just training on the products we serve, but it’s also developing the people. Teletech has a strong focus in really preparing a person to move up the ladder, so when you there is already a plan for you in terms of career. Most of those who really show potential will be enrolled in certain programs for them to become successful managers in the future, so Teletech really invests.”
Beyond that, Teletech also holds a bunch of fun activities every year. The company makes sure that the employees are happy and that everyone is fairly compensated. “Happy people produce more,” he says. “If you’re working and enjoying what you’re doing, you will not feel the stress.”
Like any other job, call centers require investment and commitment. For instance, working the night shift is really a lifestyle. “Everything shifts. You’ll have lesser time with your family so you’ll have to learn how to compensate for it. It could be stressful, so you’d also have to compensate for that.”
Compensation, for Jed, involves spending time with his wife and three children. “The most time I could spend with them is really on the weekends. I try to make sure I have a family day with them.”
Jed also loves going out and eating at good restaurants, and watching TV, with photography being his latest pursuit. “I’m still learning it. It’s a difficult hobby and an expensive one as well, so I’m taking it slow.”
Whether it’s developing his hobbies or working, Jed always works in the logic of 1+1=2. “In everything you see, if its 1+1=3, then you’d see something is wrong and you have to act on it. When I work, and I see the performance and it’s not 1+1=2, that means to say it doesn’t make sense and I have to act on it.”
Having said that, an ECE graduate making waves in the call center industry may not be the standard equation, but for Jed Justin Narvios, everything still adds up in the end.
“Although I have not practiced my profession, I do not regret it a single bit because I’m very happy,” Jed says with a smile. “I do not improve machines, but I improve people, which I think is the best profession to be in.”