Competition is fierce for the title of the Asia Corporate Excellence & Sustainability (ACES) Awards’ ‘Most Inspiring Workplace in Asia’. At the 2022 awards, one of the winners was Eastern Communications, the premier telecommunications and connectivity solutions company in the Philippines.
With a history dating back to the 1870s, Eastern Communications (Eastern) has had a long and storied presence in the industry. Its achievements – including being the nation’s first ever communications service – are inspiring in their own right, but the modern day leadership of Co-Coordinators Aileen Regio and Vince Tempongko has brought the company new acclaim.
“When I first joined Eastern Communications, I was instructed just to keep it afloat,” Regio says. “A week or two into my role, I realized I wouldn’t be satisfied with that. I knew I had to grow the business.”
When Regio came to Eastern in 2016, the company was in need of some changes.
“It was predominantly a connectivity company, but I could see there was so much potential for growth,” Regio says.
Six years later, Eastern splits its energy between connectivity and ICT solutions, which was particularly lucrative during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve changed, in terms of products and services as well as market segment,” Regio says.
It was predominantly a connectivity company, but I could see there was so much potential for growth. – Aileen Regio
“When I came in, up to 90 percent of our client base was enterprise. Immediately, I said we had to tap the SME [small and medium-size enterprises] market. We did that, and in six months, that decision had generated millions in revenue.”
Another of the pandemic’s silver linings was that it improved Eastern’s collaboration. “People have more responsibility and accountability,” Regio says. “People were afraid during the worst of the pandemic, so we acted to counter that.”
It was this new Eastern that welcomed Tempongko in late 2021. “I’m what you could call the new kid in town,” he says.
“It takes time and work to acclimatize in a company that’s already built a strong culture with its own ways of interacting and doing business. But Eastern has a very talented team, very receptive and accepting of new leaders.”
And acclimate he has, just in time for Eastern’s ramping up of efforts to expand its footprint in the Philippines. “So far we’ve expanded to the Davao, Bicol and Negros areas, and we have many other locations in the pipeline,” Tempongko says.
“In addition, we’ve improved the way we deliver service to our customers, true to our promise and purpose of bringing back the human connection in everything we do.”
This promise was codified in Eastern’s Heart of Service campaign, which reinforces the company’s brand values of serving not just clientele, but colleagues and the wider community.
Humanizing an industry
“Collaboration is very important, and this was highlighted by the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Regio says. “So our ICT tools and solutions have become very important also. However, we can only succeed in giving direction and providing solutions if we have input from all available resources, and the best we have are our employees.”
According to Regio, Eastern’s employees are the ones on the front line of the industry. “They know the issues, they’re the ones who can think, and they make recommendations. There’s constant communication between management and staff.”
As a Filipino, I feel responsible for making the Philippines great, so that drives me to work harder and grow the business. – Vince Tempongko
Tempongko says it’s part of Eastern’s way of humanizing an industry that often comes across as impersonal or distant.
“We aspire to transform the realities of customer complaints that go unnoticed, inquiries that remain unsolved and requirements that are unmet, and we endeavor to be at once more innovative and personal in our solutions by reaching out to customers and listening closely to what they need.”
It’s a way of making Eastern stand out against bigger competition, Regio says.
“What sets us apart is we care for our customers. We love them, and therefore they love us back,” she explains.
“We want them to be delighted and happy,” Tempongko concurs. “As a Filipino, I feel responsible for making the Philippines great, so that drives me to work harder and grow the business.”
It’s a similar story for Regio, whose level of inspiration could fittingly be described as award winning.
“My goal for Eastern is for the company to be top of mind. I want us to be there for families, for children, for teachers, for doctors.”