Talent is the Best Investment

 

The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Pancho Dizon,  this chapter is titled, “Talent is the Best Investment.” In it, Mai Beltran-De Guzman, the Chief Human Resources Officer of MDI and Novare Technologies, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in nurturing talent within their organization.

Despite being a tech-focused company that specializes in strategic consultancy and IT solutions, MDI Novare is best defined by its dedication to the development of its people. 


At least, this definition is according to Mai Beltran-de Guzman, the company’s Chief Human Resources Officer for a little under three years. “Our mantra here has always been ‘Talent Transforms Technology’,” de Guzman explained. “This means we believe that people should utilize technology for their benefit, leveraging it to transform businesses and the world around them.”


This dedication to using technology to revolutionize people’s lives has led to de Guzman’s HR strategies being built off five key priorities, all of which lead to developing employee talent. 


The first is that MDI Novare pledges to use automated tools to enable data-driven decision making and improve the overall employee experience. After all, data-driven decision making is a service they offer to their clients―it only makes sense to use it internally. This practice then coalesces with their second priority of using assessments to digitally track how much an employee is growing in their time with MDI Novare. 


It’s through this holistic development that MDI Novare hopes to achieve its third priority, which is becoming an employer of choice. “We want to be known as a place that can promise awesome personal development,” she explained. Similarly, their fourth priority is leading the market on skills and talent development, while their last (but not the least priority) is of course intensifying a leadership and learning culture across the company that will enable these goals. All of these highlight the employee life cycle that MDI Novare commits to. 


“Ambitious is an understatement,” De Guzman added. 


Yet de Guzman also asserts that if there’s any company with the determination to meet these goals, it’s MDI Novare. 


“One of the things we do here is a program where employees are selected and screened for especially hard to fill positions,” she said. “This vetting serves two purposes: the first is that it makes it easier for MDI Novare to focus on employees with niche skills that are hard to find or train for. Second, it also allows for easier talent retention―pre-existing employees can fill internal vacancies and this also promotes lateral movement.”


De Guzman mentioned that MDI Novare actually has what is called the Accelerated Development Placement Program, which expedites an employee’s track to a managerial position or another leadership role. This acceleration goes concurrently with MDI Novare’s leadership program, where managers identify real-life work issues and present possible solutions to an executive committee. Through these programs, employee creativity is tested and their full potential is readily unleashed. 


Of course, it would be difficult for MDI Novare to plan so extensively for their employees if they didn’t have an idea of what employees were thinking. This is why town halls are hosted monthly, both as a means for aligning employees with the company’s overall goals and empowering them to be confident when they do their jobs. These town halls serve not just as a place for employees to voice out their concerns, but even offer up possible solutions. 


The recruitment process also plays an integral role in MDI Novare’s plans for their employees. After all, the company’s initiatives are bound to fall flat if it’s wasted on someone with the wrong attitude or qualifications. 


As a result, the company goes out of its way to exhaust all possible recruitment channels; campus recruitments, university partnerships, job boards, social media, and talent communities are regularly used. Once a potential candidate is in MDI Novare’s sights, they have the choice to enter a two to three month boot camp that either grooms them for high-value entry-level positions (mainly geared towards fresh graduates from the top universities) or specific roles in business analytics, systems administration, software development, and other key areas of MDI Novare’s business. 


So far, MDI Novare’s strategy for investing in talent seems to have worked. A recent company engagement survey has found that people rated their engagement experience with Novare 4.3 stars out of 5, a marked improvement from the 3.5 to 3.7 range registered just months prior. Certainly not a bad figure considering the company headcount numbers about 650 employees. 


MDI Novare’s investment in talent development for its employees comes back to them tenfold. MDI Novare employees have definitely developed grit as a result of all their training and workshops and De Guzman recalled the example of an employee who continued soldiering on for MDI Novare despite being hit hard by the pandemic. 


“It was one of our account managers,” De Guzman said, “They actually had two family members one of whom contracted the virus and passed away, so you can imagine that was devastating. Yet they still did their work by calling up clients and maintaining a professional decorum during presentations.” 


The lesson De Guzman would like to impart is that no matter how exhausting or costly it may come out to be, enabling an employee’s growth is something a company will never regret doing. “Whatever they learn will always be of use to the company later on,” De Guzman concluded, “On top of that, an employee will always be grateful for the chance to grow.”

To get more insights from other HR leaders like Mai Beltran-De Guzman, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


The 50 - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.