The Philippine Star

Tech firm Yondu cred­its suc­cess to this lady exec


In science, tech­nol­ogy, math and engi­neer­ing (STEM) in­dus­tries where women lead­ers tend to be few, Yondu Inc.’s pres­i­dent Joan Pe­naflorida is an ex­cep­tion to the norm. As a fe­male ex­ec­u­tive lead­ing a 600-strong firm, it was un­der her lead­er­ship that Yondu be­came a ris­ing star in the coun­try’s tech scene.

past four years of Pe­naflorida’s lead­er­ship marked sev­eral mile­stones and projects. Among these projects are a dis­as­ter re­cov­ery ap­pli­ca­tion for large well-known con­glom­er­ate, an on­line gro­cery app for a well-known re­tail com­pany, and a gov­ern­ment emer­gency and re­port hot­line.

An out­stand­ing achieve­ment for Yondu last year is the cre­ation of Text Hot­line 1678, which helped the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) spread in­for­ma­tion and res­cue res­i­dents in war-stricken Marawi. An­other project, the Boni­fa­cio Global City (BGC) app, pro­vides a seam­less con­nected user ex­pe­ri­ence in nav­i­gat­ing the life­style and busi­ness hub. Thanks to the app, res­i­dents and city dwellers get real-time traf­fic up­dates, iden­tify nearby es­tab­lish­ments, and even book movie tick­ets.

These projects are only a glimpse of what Joan’s team can do to ac­cel­er­ate dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion for or­ga­ni­za­tions. Us­ing a com­pre­hen­sive and cus­tom­iz­a­ble so­lu­tions suite, Yondu’s ex­perts help com­pa­nies with many branches and thou­sands of em­ploy­ees re­duce er­rors and turn­around in pay­roll and time­keep­ing pro­cesses. An­other ser­vice called IT staffing uti­lizes Yondu’s re­cruit­ment ex­per­tise to help com­pa­nies save as much as 60 per­cent on hu­man re­source costs in hir­ing IT con­sul­tants.

This year, Yondu in­tro­duced man­aged ser­vice, to proac­tively help com­pa­nies run smoother op­er­a­tions. Un­der Yondu’s man­aged ser­vice, or­ga­ni­za­tions get ac­cess to an ex­tended IT team that serves as a sin­gle­point-of-con­tact for cus­tomer ser­vices. It also elim­i­nates down­time for bet­ter pro­duc­tiv­ity, en­sures max­i­mum up­time for sys­tems, and helps de­liver smoother cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

Woman in charge

Aside from work­ing on dif­fer­ent projects for in­dus­try gi­ants, Yondu also bagged pres­ti­gious awards un­der Pe­naflorida’s lead­er­ship. In 2016,

Forbes Philip­pines rec­og­nized Yondu as the num­ber two Philip­pine startup in terms of gross rev­enue. When the Asia Pa­cific En­trepreneur­ship Awards (APEA) rec­og­nized out­stand­ing busi­ness lead­ers last year, Pe­naflorida gained recog­ni­tion for out­stand­ing lead­er­ship in the IT, in­ter­net, and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try.

To boost Yondu’s per­for­mance, Pe­naflorida keeps a growth mind­set and uses the fol­low­ing ques­tions as guid­ing prin­ci­ples for her team: “Are we ad­dress­ing re­al­world needs here? How do we cul­ti­vate long-term re­la­tion­ships with our clients? What other av­enues do we have for growth? Most im­por­tantly, how do we make this thing (any­thing re­ally) bet­ter?”

These are the same ques­tions she had in mind when she first joined Yondu, then known as En­ter­tain­ment Gate­way Group, in 2010. She served as con­sul­tant to the busi­ness unit called Tech­nol­ogy Out­sourc­ing Part­ners (TOP), which she led to­wards hit­ting its P92 mil­lion tar­get that year. She headed TOP in 2011 and at the end of her stint, the busi­ness units in­creased its rev­enue to around 300 per­cent.

When Pe­naflorida first joined Yondu, most of the com­pany’s rev­enue came from the value-added ser­vices they pro­vided to Globe Tele­com, its mother com­pany. At around this time, Pe­naflorida and her col­leagues saw an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand its busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties by pro­vid­ing its ser­vices to other clients. To date, Yondu’s clien­tele in­cludes lead­ing brands and key gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions.

As Yondu’s chief, Pe­naflorida’s pri­or­ity is to keep syn­er­gies in the team to stay on strat­egy. By keep­ing her eyes on the big­ger pic­ture, play­ing to her col­leagues’ strengths, and plac­ing con­fi­dence on her staff’s com­pe­tence, Joan mas­tered how to be a team player while stay­ing in­de­pen­dent.

“I’m not the kind to re­ally mi­cro­man­age things. I be­lieve in our peo­ple so it’s usu­ally a mat­ter of align­ing all of these things to see if we’re still on the same page or if any­thing needs to be ad­dressed,” Pe­naflorida said.

Given the in­creas­ingly rapid pace by which the dig­i­tal land­scape evolves, Pe­naflorida be­lieves that achiev­ing busi­ness re­sults re­quire the will­ing­ness to pivot – a qual­ity re­flec­tive of how Yondu val­ues flex­i­bil­ity in its pur­suit of growth.

“You solve prob­lems by find­ing what works, and con­stantly check­ing if that’s still the case over time,” Joan said.

Glass ceil­ings in tech shat­tered

Pe­naflorida be­lieves that suc­ceed­ing as a ca­reer woman in the tech scene is her way to be rel­e­vant to to­day’s gen­er­a­tion. She also be­lieves that it makes her a good role model for her son, Joaquin.

As Pe­naflorida suc­cess­fully bal­ances the de­mands of work and moth­er­hood, she is proud to be work­ing with a women-led man­age­ment com­mit­tee who shares her pas­sion for solv­ing prob­lems and smart plan­ning. While STEM in­dus­tries are yet to see more women-led firms like Yondu, Pe­naflorida re­mains op­ti­mistic that mixed and di­verse tech teams can be­come the norm.

Pe­naflorida shared that Yondu cher­ishes di­ver­sity and in­clu­siv­ity. Both men and women are hired and pro­moted based on the merit of their work and the value they add to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“In­side and out­side the STEM in­dus­tries, women still have to deal with a de­gree of bias. This does not stop them, how­ever, from stay­ing rel­e­vant,” Pe­naflorida said. “The Philip­pines is ac­tu­ally one of the few coun­tries in Asia where women re­searchers have greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion in STEM. This gives us an op­por­tu­nity to help in­spire more women to take the lead in shap­ing the in­dus­try.”

For as­pir­ing women prac­ti­tion­ers and lead­ers in tech who want to make a stronger im­pact, Pe­naflorida has this ad­vice to share: “Crit­i­cism is okay, and that’s gen­er­ally how peo­ple grow. I learned to work with valid feed­back. If it doesn’t hold up to scru­tiny, you could al­ways tune that out.”

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