Creating a Strong Company Culture to the Core

Creating a Strong Company Culture to the Core


The 50’s Chapter 39, entitled: “Creating a Strong Company Culture to the Core” featuring Jen Garcia, the VP of HR and Corporate Communications at Zuellig Pharma.

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The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Emee Dy, this chapter is titled, “Creating a Strong Company Culture to the Core.” In it, Jen Garcia, the VP of HR and Corporate Communications at Zuellig Pharma, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in talent aquisition. 

The cultural core of the company is its employees

“Your job is important. We want to set you up to succeed. You’re part of something bigger.”


Such motivating words were spoken by Zuellig Pharma’s Vice President of HR and Corporate Communications, Jen Garcia. Upon joining the organization four years ago, Garcia immediately felt the outstanding company culture that allowed employees to thrive in the workplace.


One of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia today, Zuellig Pharma’s story began in 1938, when Frederick E. Zuellig set up a specialized “drug department” that included pharmaceuticals and a variety of healthcare products in the Philippines. Although Zuellig Pharma has since expanded internationally, the Philippines remained its largest market. 


Regardless of location, Zuellig Pharma aimed to make healthcare more accessible as a service to the greater community. As a leader in a critical industry, supplying the market is a huge responsibility and is thus taken very seriously. During the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the organization continued to operate. Critical employees still came in for work while others worked from home or remote locations because getting the right medicines in the right hands at the right time, quality, and quantity was what Zuellig Pharma and its employees stood for.


This feeling and commitment to service required the right people. Garcia shared that the first step in ensuring that the company culture was maintained was to recruit like-minded individuals capable of contributing to Zuellig Pharma’s mission. People ultimately make up an organization and Garcia highlighted several strategies as to how this is implemented at Zuellig Pharma.


Competencies among recruiters are ensured. They are, after all, the first touchpoint of a potential employee with the company.  By continuously developing recruiter skills and competencies, Zuellig Pharma ensured that there is a good match between candidates and jobs, the first step towards an engaged employee fulfilling a job he finds value and meaning in doing. 


Recruiting was the first important step, keeping employees consistently focused and engaged is another. To achieve this, people managers were trained not only to be functional experts but to be great people managers and motivators as well. Garcia said genuine care is commonplace at the organization and this was what differentiates them from others. “We genuinely look after each other and people trust that all feedback and even critique comes from a place of genuine care and support.”


However, Zuellig Pharma was not immune to challenges. During the Manila ECQ, Zuellig Pharma, like any other company, struggled to continue distributing its products across the country. On some occasions, they even had to work with the airforce and the coast guard to transport critical life-saving drugs to provinces. When faced with a shortage of delivery trucks, a call went out to all employees: “Who can come to the warehouses with their cars right now? Here’s the plan. We will load your cars with deliveries, and you’re going to bring them over to the air force. They will then take the deliveries to Cebu and Davao,” Garcia recalled asking employees, among other leaders at the organization.


Within 30 minutes, there was a queue of cars in the warehouse. Employees willingly came to help and began loading the products onto their cars. Even though situations like these were not necessarily included in any of their job descriptions, the entire team was there. Zuellig Pharma is a team: “Employees are the main ambassadors of who we are and what we stand for,” Garcia proudly said. ”Whether you are in HR, sales, or working on the shop floor, we all contribute to a company culture of interconnectedness.”


Perhaps every business would acknowledge that company culture, talent acquisition, and engagement were key business areas to propel a company forward, but few can find the right team to execute it all. Garcia pointed out that everyone in the company had a story of commitment and dedication to tell. Organizational commitment and pride were so strong that employees even posted Zuellig Pharma-related activities on their personal LinkedIn accounts.


Through happy employees essentially being ambassadors of Zuellig Pharma, the organization boasts a strong company culture to the core. Employees were the main channel of promoting how great the organization is. 


Self-motivated individuals with a “can-do” attitude thrive even more in an organization with limited power distance, where everyone has a voice. For example, Zuellig Pharma has daily huddles and sales meetings weekly to fully understand what an individual needs to succeed, Garcia shared. The whole organization has access to supportive leaders who truly listen. Garcia is one of them. He does not limit his responsibilities to his role—he values, encourages, and rewards the ideas of all individuals within Zuellig Pharma, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy.


Garcia also shared another aspect of Zuellig Pharma that builds upon its company culture: the focus on performance management. Everything is aligned across the enterprise; not just within the Philippines’. This mindset is translated up to the shop floor level, and meritocracy is prevalent throughout the organization.


Zuellig Pharma is disciplined about how they conduct talent reviews separate from performance management reviews. They identified individuals who demonstrate high potential and commit resources to their development.


Above all, in a logistics-heavy field that is typically male-dominated, Garcia remarked that Zuellig Pharma placed great emphasis on diversity. “We respect and provide everyone an equal opportunity to thrive and develop. That is what sets us apart as an organization: our willingness to serve our clients and the community,” he added.



To get more insights from other HR leaders like Jen Garcia, 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.

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