MAPping the Future

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Takeaways from the MAP CEO Conference

written by Mr. Junie del Mundo - October 17, 2022

The global industry has faced significant setbacks because of the ongoing pandemic but the most important thing here is that our speakers and guests for the September 13, 2022 MAP International CEO Conference on “THE WINS OF CHANGE: Thriving in a World of In-Betweens” have provided us with insights on how best we can move forward, an overarching theme here is being agile and adaptable.


In our first session, Mr. Mark Koziel of Allinial Global provided us with a purview on how to manage the blurring lines in a hybrid work setup. Pivotal changes in the workplace, in efforts to address widespread employee burnout, has led to a flexible approach towards management, such as listening to employees’ preference for a flexible working model, and how likely organizations are putting talent at risk when full on-site work is implemented.


Mr. Koziel also touched on how technology, automation, and outsourcing can affect organizational changes. As he stated, technology by itself cannot fix all our problems, but it can definitely help if used and managed well; especially if proper guidance and training opportunities are provided to the emerging workforce. His advice in establishing and implementing a responsive hybrid work setup through empowering employees by collaborating on the right strategy and taking note of the best practices that have been raised by those already working under remote setups are a welcome value added to our ongoing conversation on future-facing working environments. Issues on staffing, which has since plagued businesses long before the pandemic, can also benefit from these points raised by Mr. Koziel through technology, automation, and outsourcing.


If we remember to make sure that the culture surrounding a hybrid workforce is healthy, then the Philippine business landscape is on its way to creating a more resilient workforce. We now must also evolve our approach and make the most of our people in the best ways that we can.


While Mr. Koziel touched on managing change through business strategies, the second session led by Mr. Stephen CuUnjieng gave us insight into viewing the changed business landscape with a new lens,one that fits well with the challenges that were posed by the pandemic. He posited that the last time that the economy took a backseat in being the primary driver was in World War 2 and that this is the first induced recession in our lifetime.


So given these items, we are now posed with questions on how you approach an instance such as the pandemic – what separates companies that sink to the bottom versus those that ride the high waves?


Mr. CuUnjieng showed that being proactive, through strategizing, planning, and building, has created increased business resilience in the face of crises. Instead of basic responses to events, those who have put sound strategies in place have brought their companies through exceptionally difficult times such as the pandemic. Proper planning, instead of merely responding to events, has also proven effective not just in the private sector, but also for government processes as demonstrated by his presentation. Lastly, taking the time and effort to build on businesses, instead of having a trading mindset, will maximize opportunities for improvement in both our individual firms and the national economy.


All in all, we see that to succeed, we cannot just rely on what our strategy is and how successfully it is executed – we must also take into account all other factors that do not stay the same – thus our plans must be nurtured, adapted; or if needed, changed or abandoned. In short, our strategies and implementations will always need continuous improvement no matter how flawless these may seem.


After that inspiring talk of Mr. CuUnjieng, we listened to Atty. James Grandolfo, Partner at Millbank LLP, as he related to us how best to address challenges in the capital markets – how do we “Trawl” and I don’t mean heckle, but trawl, as in search for investments that help deliver a balance of equity, growth, and sustainability.


Challenges faced in the Philippine Capital Markets which has oldest stock exchange but has fewer stocks listed:

  • There’s still room for improvement to streamline processes for listings – to improve ease in transactions;
  • Policy reforms have already been implemented but there’s more room for policy reform to deepen the Philippine Capital Markets, such as
  • expanding the capital base from abroad to help provide liquidity and improve pricing for investors
  • developing policies to encourage GOCCs to list will also raise needed capital for government
  • sustainable integration with global markets
  • development of independent and accountable regulators and creation of new ones like a mortgage regulator
  • transparent rules and regulations
  • Taxation – encourages development of capital markets


Atty. Grandolfo’s session was complemented by Professor TY Sim, a former consultant to the United Nations, who gave an incredibly informative talk on the national implications of long-term structural challenges for tax reforms including three mega trends and policy directions on taxation.


  1. The tectonic shift in tax rates
  • The period of moderation of tax rates appears to be ending.
  • However, the need for higher tax collection has to be met. So the question is – How to fill this gap since corporate tax collection is only a small slice of the total? Thus, more of the shortfall will have to come from other tax sources, like personal income taxes, consumption taxes.


  1. Shift

FROM north-south divide between well-off, developed economies vs developing countries which favor capital exporters


TO a digital divide – between digital leaders, like US and China, that dominate the internet space vs countries, likes France and India, which are is not so e-commerce heavy.


The implications of this divide on taxation bring up issues that change the landscape.

As no tax without physical presence, data becomes the new factor. Challenge: how do you tax data?


To level the playing field, there’s a proliferation of digital services tax laws in an effort to capture part of the global profits that are missed out due to the absence of digital transaction taxation.


  1. Hyper transparency: data is the “new oil”

With hyper transparency happening, the likelihood is high that authorities may know more than you about your company. Prof Sim then closed by posing a question for us – Are our Audit Committees and CFOs aware of these issues and are our tax functions prepared?


Dr. Nicolas Pascal, CEO and Executive Director of Blue Finance, expounded on how the future of business should be blue and green where a blue economy revolves around anything to improve marine conservation, working with coastal communities and other stakeholders to make it sustainable for a long- term future.


He shared in particular their experience as a social enterprise in Mindoro  where they are piloting a business run in a sustainable, ecological way to show that such an enterprise can produce environmental benefits while remaining sustainable as a business.


He also shared about how they are funding their enterprise through a blended finance facility which involves both grants and debt instruments.


Managed by a multi-disciplinary team of marine scientists, philanthropists, impact investors, and development agency partners and banks, from their experience, what they have seen is that they are able to raise passion capital. It is available. It is possible.


Our day ended with Mr. Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader for People and Organization at PwC USA, speaking on the Global Workforce Hopes & Fears for 2022. It was reflected that “The Great Resignation” is very real and happening right now, with 1 out of 5 employees being likely to switch to a new employer, it was also gleaned that Gen Z workers who are from ages 18-25 lead this movement.


Following this movement is the pressure to increase pay and what factors make up the mind of an employee who is likely to resign. In this in-between world that we currently function in, it is important to factor in pay but also purpose, and authenticity if we want to attract the best talent and retain them.


We also touched on empowerment and skills, political and social issues in the workplace, the demand for transparency, and the future of hybrid work in this in-between world we are in. These points tell us where we can put our focus for the next few years because while the pandemic has slowed down, its effects whether physical, mental, or emotional are here to stay, whether it be on our business, our employees, or the culture in general.


While you’d think that businesses used to be so black and white, where work is within the 4 walls of a tall building in the metro, you’ll now find that these lines have been blurred, work no longer exists in one place – the existence of cloud networks and a shift in the mindset of workers have brought us to an in-between world where everyone is flexible, adaptable, and prone to change.


To recap, here are the key takeaways from all the interesting discussions.


Our speakers and guests have all spoken about how best to approach and win in a changing landscape that none of us have explored. I guess all we have to do now is ride that wave of change and hope for the better.


(The author is Vice Chair of the MAP CEO Conference Committee, Chair of the MAP Health Committee, and Chair and CEO of The EON Group. Feedback at <> and <>.)