DDB Group chair turns 60

HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann LL. Reyes

Our dear friend, DDB Group chairman and CEO Gil Chua, head of one of the country’s leading full-service communications group whose services include advertising, celebrated his birthday last Sept. 9 and to honor him on this occasion, we are printing some of his responses to an interview conducted by no less than his daughter Anna Chua-Norbert. Here they are:

“One time per week, I try to reflect on what I’ve accomplished, the status of my businesses, my relationships with my partners and clients, and whether I feel I’m providing value. I assess my goals to make sure they fit within the plan I have put together. But I don’t look back too long. When I stop too long to reflect and start praising myself, I fall into complacency. Complacency stunts growth both intellectually and spiritually and wars against what I aim to accomplish. Complacency is the state of mind that can destroy ambition and knock us down. One of my favorites quotes is from Pastor and Bible teacher Gillis Triplett who said that of all the possible avenues of life there are to live for, complacency should be viewed as the switch that killed the will to build.

“I am most proud about having my children. They are and forever will be, the better version of myself. They are not me, so I know I cannot control their lives in any way, but they are with me, as my partners in business, my confidants, my inspiration, my source of fun, and my legacy. I am always grateful to God for blessing me with them, to share my life.

“The one thing I love about this organization is that we help people experience the gift of work. We help talented Filipinos live meaningful lives, part of which involves having a job–a place to go each day where they get to contribute, feel a sense of purpose and provide value to the nation, and the community around them. So my wish is for them to embrace the gift of work, to grow the business, provide more job opportunities to Filipinos.

“CEOs and leaders face many challenges and it is our job to provide solutions, right? People are not born with qualities like effective leadership and innovation. These can only be learned and earned through hard work and diligence. Sometimes, critical failures and overwhelming odds can easily break anyone and make them lose sight of our aspirations. But CEOs do not have this luxury. We have to be the role models and consistently demonstrate the conduct that will make a company productive and profitable.

My biggest challenge has been succession. Why? Because the moment we get them trained to the caliber we want, they get poached. And then there’s no room for growth for my leaders, because they can’t go anywhere without a successor. 

“I am a proud homegrown CEO. Yes, I have been lucky to have amazing mentors in clients and peers from all over the world, but what makes me get out in the morning daily is knowing I have – through the work that we do - the power to influence and change society for the better. So I promised myself to be part of the solution. One day, when I am in the position to help, I will provide job opportunities to Filipinos so they don’t have to leave their families behind. It is important for any child to have a parent with them growing up. Society will improve because the values get passed on. We started Field Outsource Asia in 2011 with 10 key champions. Today, it is 3,000 strong and with a nationwide reach. We hire and provide jobs from their respective provinces, so they always have their families nearby and they don’t have to travel far. My challenge for myself before I retire, is to provide 50,000 jobs for Filipinos.

“The secret to my success? Making time for myself. Self-reflection. Prayer gives me self-knowledge and self-awareness to align my values, goals, what I stand for, and what matters most to me. For a leader, this is crucial: If I don’t know myself, I cannot lead myself, and if I can’t lead myself, I cannot possibly lead others. I also practice consistency. If you cannot replicate success then you fail making more leaders and reaching our goals to provide job opportunities. Leadership is about having a compelling long-term vision, a comprehensive plan with a relentless desire for storytelling, and generals that know how to implement and make talented people work together to achieve the goal. It is about taking time to make our people understand, that we too, want to live meaningful lives. 

“If I were 20 years old all over again, this is what I would tell others who are starting their career in the industry: first, if you don’t know yourself, find yourself through the work you identify best with so you are contributing to society, building your confidence and learning new things. You have to work hard and not be afraid to make mistakes. You have to try something new. New is always needed if we want anything to change. Second, there will always be people better than you, smarter or richer. It doesn’t matter  - just bring out the best version of yourself everyday. If you don’t have a better solution to a problem, don’t waste time complaining. Third,  don’t let success get to your head. Life has a way of balancing your experiences to make you well-rounded, to make you the better and stronger person you are meant to be. Stay humble and be kind. The blow will be bearable when the chips are down. And lastly, and this is probably the most difficult, begin with the end in mind. How will people remember you?  What would you like them to say about you? Make sure when you look back, you’ll have plenty to smile about, just as I do.”

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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