Corporate Marketing Driven by Social Impact
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Pancho Dizon, this chapter is titled “Corporate Marketing Driven by Social Impact.” In it, Catherin Salceda-Ileto, the Senior Director for Corporate Marketing of Sutherland, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in social marketing.
To describe Cathy Salceda-Ileto’s career as “illustrious” would be an unfortunate disservice to her.
In a career spanning decades of practice in integrated marketing and communications, Salceda-Ileto has taken on roles in broadcast media, corporate communications, public relations, government affairs, stakeholder management, and more. Currently, she is the Senior Director for Corporate Marketing and Social Impact Lead at Sutherland, a digital transformation company focused on delivering exceptional experiences for both customers and employees.
Salceda-Ileto’s role was strategic in pulling the growth of the Philippines geography, working closely with local government, the industry, academe, and the communities at large.
Salceda-Ileto’s vast experience has culminated in her vision of a value-driven marketing strategy. In her role at Sutherland, for example, her vision came to fruition in more ways than one, culminating in her brainchild—the #StrongSutherland campaign launched in 2015. Together with their key stakeholders, cross-functional teams, and the support of senior leadership, Salceda-Ileto and her team executed a 360-degree brand refresh that would position the company as an employer of choice, and a formidable employer brand in the Philippines.
The goal of the campaign was to communicate and share how Sutherland contributed to nation building through inclusive innovation in the countryside, and how as an organization, believed in the Filipino talent. The campaign emphasized three core Filipino values that served as a catalyst in promoting a positive culture within Sutherland itself: bayanihan (community spirit), malasakit (care), and diskarte (resourcefulness). A real successful outcome after a year of running the campaign was the “Employer of the Year” recognition received by Sutherland at the 2016 ICT Awards organized by the industry and the Philippine business community.
It’s from these values that Salceda-Ileto and her team launched various programs designed to positively impact the community at large. One of these pioneering initiatives was called the Bayanihan Para Sa Kinabukasan (Community Enablement for a Brighter Future) program which aimed to increase the employability of the marginalized sectors in the Philippines through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“One of the key elements of the program was to provide several Sutherland-developed modules to TESDA scholars and DOLE assisted job seekers to equip them with skills they need for the 21st century,” Salceda-Ileto explained. “We’re well aware that they are part of the marginalized sectors of the community. We helped give them the skills to become self-sufficient. For the ones that qualify, we even hire them at Sutherland.”
Salceda-Ileto shared that the number of impact hires coming through at Sutherland was actually one of the key metrics in evaluating the program’s success. It showed just how serious the company was regarding their corporate social responsibility and how much they’re willing to commit to the development of the Filipino talent.
Of course, these programs benefited Sutherland itself in more ways than one. “In our industry, talent readiness is always an immediate concern,” she said. “The program allowed for work-relevant and industry-aligned content to reach a wider audience and directly bridge the skills gap through government partner institutions.”
As a young student leader at Assumption College San Lorenzo, Salceda-Ileto has always been passionate about enabling the communities.
Salceeda-Ileto served the Student Council of Assumption as an elected officer while also excelling in her academics. Even in college, Salceda-Ileto organized immersions and student activities that provided the students multiple opportunities to get more plugged into the communities at large.
It was in fact in one of her projects in school—an alternative class program—where a broadcast media journalist saw potential in Salceda-Ileto, that eventually opened opportunities for her to audition and get an internship at media giant ABS-CBN. This eventually led to her professional journey as a broadcast journalist, splitting her time between covering political stories and anchoring business news on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). She did this for several years, before eventually moving on to her first corporate communications role at a leading telecommunications company. Salceda
Ileto has been able to transition to more complex roles since then—from government relations, policy-shaping, overseas marketing, employee experience, and corporate social responsibility, or what is now called sustainability or social impact.
Salceda-Ileto’s entry into the corporate world enabled her to interact with a wide array of stakeholders and understand what each of these key publics value.
“It’s important to make sure that you’re collaborative with key stakeholders very early in the project, so that you can navigate successfully,” Salceda-Ileto said.
Salceda-Ileto’s stakeholder management skills came in handy when she assumed the role of External Affairs Director at the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP)—the industry organization for the information technology and business process outsourcing sector where she was able to influence a robust and sound fiscal and labor policy framework that would enable the country to be a preferred destination for these services. Salceda-Ileto was hired as part of BPAP’s Team 2010 tasked to ensure 1 million jobs in this sector by the end of the decade. Salceda-Ileto also led the overseas marketing or country promotion piece which included the development of the Philippine IT-BPM brand.
In 2008, the Department of Industry recognized Salceda-Ileto for all the pathfinding initiatives she pioneered and implemented for the IT-BPM sector—including investments and locators she brought into the country as a result of her work at BPAP.
When asked about an area of the communications practice she enjoyed the most, Salceda Ileto described that she was most passionate about social impact and corporate social responsibility; she was committed to continue her path in ensuring organizations have a sound and sustainable social impact in communities and industries where help is needed. “Sustainability is key. Every organization should have a strategy that would enable the entire ecosystem—and in the process achieve tremendous brand value for the organization,” she said.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Cathy Salceda-Ileto, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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