Revolutionary leadership at BMS’ Leadership Symposium

The Business Management Society (BMS) held its annual Leadership Symposium, with the theme Revolution, last November 23. During the one-day symposium, attendees joined a case analysis session at the 17th floor of the Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall, followed by a series of leadership seminars at the Natividad Fajardo Auditorium led by industry experts. 

Students from various universities and colleges took part in the event, including those from DLSU, Far Eastern University, Adamson University, University of Sto. Tomas, and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Speakers from renowned companies such as Google, Colgate-Palmolive, and The Secret Sauce took the stage to elaborate on the idea of leadership. 

Leadership experience

Professionals from the business sector led the exploration on the event’s subthemes of character excellence, dynamic elevation, and generational empowerment. Co-Project Head Sophia Regina Wong explained the event’s aim to “take part in sharing ideas of what it means to become a revolutionary leader.” 

More than just a story of change, Ann Kimberly Ang, another project head of the event, further elaborated their concept of revolution. She described it as “a journey of developing character, elevating the present, and ultimately empowering others that they may return the same.”

Leadership development

“Leadership development is a USD 366-billion industry,” said Niña Cansanay, Director for Customer Service and Logistics of Colgate-Palmolive Philippines. With the immense resources set for improving leadership skills and traits, Cansanay emphasized their importance for organizations. “Leadership development or soft skills [are] critical in advancing the organization,” she said. In Colgate-Palmolive Philippines, the company’s practice, Cansanay shared, is geared toward developing a “whole leader”, by emphasizing “leading with the head, the heart, and with courage”. 

Leading with the head, according to Cansanay, is leading with self-awareness. “It is the ability to manage or monitor your actions, thoughts, and behavior. You have to know yourself,” she described. Cansanay further narrated that being resilient characterizes leading with the heart. Resilience for Cansanay is inner strength or courage, or as she described, “bouncing back”. Being kind was how Cansanay described leading with courage. “Be kind to yourself and to others,” she urged. 

For her, being a leader also entailed removing judgement and bias against other persons, citing her workplace experiences. “For you to understand your team member, you have to openly listen without any bias because that’s the only way you’ll be able to understand where the other person is coming from,” she narrated.

Staying relevant 

Google Senior Partnerships Lead Elora Sam, meanwhile, expressed her belief that the next five years will be a period of rapid advancement for the country. “The Philippines is the second fastest emerging market in the world and it will continue to be so until the end of the next decade,” she said, quoting an article from Oxford Economics. Sam described this period as a prime opportunity for marketers. 

“We can build brands and businesses. We can also bring value and meaning to every individual’s journey to progress,” she noted. With the rapid advancement of technology, Sam believed that the internet is being used by Filipinos as a tool to uplift their lives, noting the number of content creators catering to Filipinos. 

With the oversaturation of content creation, however, Sam affirmed that emotional storytelling is an important tool to stay relevant and capture the market. Brands like Closeup and its #FreeToLove campaign, for example, used storytelling to help increase its sales, explained Sam.

An empowering leader

Danella Yaptinchay, The Secret Sauce founder, related her personal experiences with her initiative, recounting that empowerment of others entails “helping them find the best version of themselves and becoming that best version.” But she emphasized that to empower others to become leaders, it is necessary to ensure that constituents are seen and heard. “Help them learn things through exploring ideas and you also give them room for experience,” she said.

However, Yaptinchay warned against enemies of empowerment. “They will do some things that won’t [allow] you to learn it yourself,” she explained. For Yaptinchay, leaders must be ready to help their team, but she cautioned against helping too much to the point that they are being spoon-fed.

Aside from empowering others, Yaptinchay stressed to the audience that everyone must be in a continuous process of empowerment themselves by recognizing our mistakes as learning opportunities and pushing ourselves to our limits. Being a great leader, for Yaptinchay, also starts within oneself. 

“When you empower yourself, it gets easier to empower others,” she said.

Eliza Santos

By Eliza Santos

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