Interview and written by: Allanah Paragas

For over 20 years in the recruitment industry, attracting and acquiring quality candidates have always been Asia Select’s promise to its clients. From local to multinational companies, we have already built a reputation and established trust from different organizations from various industries through our teams of top-notch headhunters.

As a human capital solutions firm, we have addressed recruitment challenges faced by most businesses through our five core services. Being a company’s recruitment partner, we aide and support their HR team from finding and placing the right-fit talents directly in the organization through our efficient and cost-effective solutions.

One of our well-sought services is the Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), wherein we send out our skilled consultants to be an extension of the organization’s HR recruitment team. Our RPO solution is a cost-effective method that allows clients to focus on other business matters, while our consultant manages the overall recruitment process—thus increasing their business performance.

One of our current successful projects is with Japan Tobacco International, as they establish its Global Business Service (GBS) Center in Manila. As their recruitment partner, we are able to provide them our RPO solution by being able to volume-hire quality professionals ranging from specialist to director roles and yielded positive results in a span of ten months and counting.

We interviewed the Asia Select Activation Managers Denice Camasura and Cath Amisola, and their Cluster Head Jerry Bonifacio who pivoted the JTI GBS project. According to Jerry, it was an “Asia Select-wide teamwork and effort that made the project successful. Communication is an integral part of our processes, and we are thankful to members of the teams who were very much involved in this project. We are honored to a part of JTI GBS’ exponential growth in Manila, as they’ve also had successful global hubs in Warsaw, Poland, and St. Petersburg, Russia.”

Interview Transcript

How did your team prepare for the project?

Jerry: It was integral that we worked with JTI GBS very closely, and made sure we understood their vision, and help them translate their vision to results. They needed a great deal of HR and accounting and finance professionals.

First, we prepared for the volume requisition by deep-diving into a talent market research to better assess the ideal talent pool. It was critical we knew the competencies and skills required for each role, know where these skilled talent are, and understand what attracted them in terms of career advancement. JTI has great employer branding that needed to be echoed to the Filipino talent through a recruitment marketing campaign.

Second, we planned our talent acquisition strategies, from sourcing to onboarding, and mapped out a recruitment process that was not only efficient for JTI GBS and Asia Select, but importantly a recruitment process that has a great candidate experience.

Lastly, we looked into our internal resources and recalibrated our project management to ensure the alignment of 3P’s:

People. We planned the intact collaboration and cooperation between our teams. Communication is the key to make things work. Process. We created an ecosystem to understand and better manage the process that will take place during the project. Performance. We forecasted possible challenges that we might encounter. We prepared ourselves to evaluate and provide solutions to any setback

What were the challenges during the execution?

Denice: The first few months of the project is always challenging, no matter how prepared the team is. While we’ve already worked on previous RPO engagements, each one has its own new challenges. With JTI GBS being an international firm, we’ve had to adjust and work with JTI teams in different time zones. We also had a challenge with streamlining internal processes. But as consultants, we also suggested new ways for both teams become synergized by simplifying processes that resulted to a better management of the candidates. For example, even before the pandemic, we introduced the convenience of online interviews to increase show-up rates.

Cath: There are a few candidates who do not fully understand the concept of a GBS. As headhunters, it is also our role to help candidates better understand the industry, describe the role, and introduce to them the career potential in working in a shared services industry.

At the onset of the pandemic, most companies resulted to have their employees work remotely, including Asia Select. What was Asia Select’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?

Jerry: As soon as President Duterte declared the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the 4R’s were immediately implemented:

We continuously reassured the overall well-being of the team and made sure everyone felt safe and secured. We realigned with the BCP of JTI GBS and reassured them that we would still be able to meet the hiring objectives on the targeted timelines. We re-analyzed our internal resources for the WFH setup. We ensured that the team were equipped with the right tools. We re-established our team’s productivity by ensuring KPIs were being met.

Despite the global recession caused by the pandemic, JTI GBS was one of the few companies that were still hiring. How was the team able to help jobseekers who were in furlough?

Jerry: JTI GBS remained true to its mission by creating more job opportunities in the Manila and still believed in the Filipino talent despite the pandemic. One of the many candidates that found employment was finance professional, Hazel. It was the perfect timing as our recruiter, Nalyn Castillo was able to reach out to Hazel just right after she was retrenched.

Over the last six months, what has been the team’s achievements on the JTI BGS project?

Jerry: To date, we have hired 200 professionals for different functions (i.e. supply chain, accounting and finance, HR, corporate strategy, marketing, etc.) within the GBS.

Aside from the number of FTEs we have accomplished, the positive feedback and commendation we received from both the client and candidates were heartwarming. One even said, “Very positive experience provided by Brielle Chan from the beginning until I signed the offer and joined JTI GBS. She gave regular updates by about the status of my application and properly endorsed me to the right contact people during the interview process. We have not met personally but she maintained communications after I was hired by JTI GBS and checked in how I was after I on-boarded. She provided an amazing recruitment experience. ”

Denice: These achievements would not be possible if it weren’t for the effort, determination, and the excellent candidate management of career architects Marco [Tayag] and Anne [Gheorge] who were in charge of sourcing and interviewing HR and marketing candidates.

Cath: I am thankful for my team’s accomplishments. Shout out to Clar [Reyes], Brielle [Chan], and Nalyn [Castillo]. I am truly grateful with your resourcefulness and the hard work you three have put into this project.
Jerry: Let’s not also forget all the help we got from Cluster B, Cluster C, and the Community Network (Marketing Team). This project is actually a company-wide effort. Despite managing other projects, they still showed their support by helping us fill the FTEs.

What are your key takeaways that will able carried out on your team’s next RPO project?

Jerry: From each of the RPO projects we have handled, we bring with us the new learnings and experiences we encountered. As for the JTI GBS project, our key takeaways include:

Have a consultative approach:  As a recruitment partner, we made sure that we were always on the top with the latest insights on the Philippine talent market or anything that could affect their business. For any recruitment challenges encountered, we acted fast and provided solutions all parties can benefit from. Be a recruitment partner instead of just being another vendor:  We strengthened our client relationship through trust. By being treated as equals, we worked towards the attainment of the company’s objectives. Embody JTI’s employer branding. By incorporating JTI’s culture and making it our own, we were able to communicate effectively to the candidates. We wore the hat of the client by adopting JTI’s four (4) global flagship values: Keeping it Simple, Making it Happen, Being Accountable, and having One Team. Candidate experience is key: We kept our candidates warm by giving them honest feedback after they’ve undergone another stage in the recruitment process. Being transparent and by having open communication helped create a better experience for the candidates. The importance of adaptability and flexibility. The pandemic tested our limits but pushed us to evolve individually and as a team. Instead of succumbing to problems, it made us discover new practices by seeing the positivity of overcoming setbacks.

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