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News & Events

Philippine daily inquirer - power women in business talk about 2007 and 2008

By Margie Quimpo-Espino

Posted date: December 23, 2007

MANILA, Philippines--Tessie Sy
(SM Group) Retail, banking, property development

Given our 9-month performance for this year, and the positive economic environment in the fourth quarter, we seem to be on track to achieve our profit growth target of between 12 and 15 percent for 2007. For the first 9 months of the year, our profits grew by 14 percent to P8.5 billion. Excluding extraordinary items, recurring income increased by 22 percent to P6.2 billion.

On the retail merchandising business, we opened five stores, of which two are department stores, two are hypermarkets and one supermarket. For the malls, we opened three new ones in Bacolod, Taytay and Muntinlupa. Also, we expanded San Fernando Pampanga, Cebu, and Mall of Asia; the latter with the opening of the Science Discovery Center. All told, our floor space increased by about 10 percent.

For the banks, BDO got into the thick of its consolidation with Equitable PCI Bank, while China Bank acquired Manila Banking Corp.

For property, our group got very busy with launching three new residential projects with Lindenwood Residences, Berkely and Grass.

The commercial developers completed and launched SMX Convention Center and will soon open our BPO building OneE-com Center. We also successfully launched our tourism project in Hamilo called Pico de Loro which has sold over P1 billion worth of condo units. And finally, for hotels, we are now expanding Taal Vista Hotel and refurbishing Cebu Sofitel which will be a five-star hotel by the time it’s finished in late 2008.

We are confident that the Philippine economy has sufficient momentum to cope with the external challenges facing it such as the weakness in the US and European markets and higher inflation due to the unrelenting increase in crude oil prices. On that note, we decided to pursue our expansion plans across all our core businesses. Both our retail and mall businesses will be expanding outside of Metro Manila, while the banks will complete their consolidation of recent acquisitions. The property group will launch new residential projects, and perhaps break ground for the sports arena and the Radisson hotel which will both be at the Mall of Asia complex. We will continue to sell condo units and beach and country club shares in Pico de Loro. All these will cost the whole group about P26 billion in capital expenditures.

Dr. Vicki Belo
(Belo Medical Group) Beauty business

2007 was a turning point for the Belo Medical Group: We experienced better than industry growth rate despite uncontrollable factors in the external front... the shrinking of the US dollar in the last quarter of 2007, political issues hounding the economy, entry of new competitors.

2007 gave BMG the opportunity to evaluate its internal strengths and went on to consolidate and retool human capital (BMG invested heavily on training personnel) established world class standards, invest in information technology, made inroads in operational efficiencies, trained and empowered managers, invest in new marketing channels and opened new mall-based branches in Rustan’s and Trinoma.

It also trained its sights on regional markets in Asia leveraging the power of the Belo brand. BMG is constantly looking for new/growth areas in Asia to establish its medical presence.

Belo Medical Group is definitely on track in its growth plans for 2008. Actually our growth plan covers a five-year strategic program starting in 2007 up to 2012. The game plan is to calibrate BMG and prepare the organization to embrace unprecedented growth in the global medical tourism picture
International healthcare and medical tourism organizations have identified the Philippines as a major destination for healthcare and wellness and BMG is bracing for a borderless transaction on the medical and wellness industry.

1. BMG will continue to invest and train its people (doctors and nonmedical personnel) to be world-class service providers. Its biggest asset would be its front-liners.

2. Upgrade BMGs existing branches and establish clinics in growth areas within and outside Metro Manila.

3. Invest in research and development and create a culture of innovation in all service fronts.

4. Continue to innovate on new cosmetic and dermatological services. BMG will be aggressive in making its doctors attend international conferences on the latest trends on cosmetic and dermatological initiatives. Doctor Belo requires its doctors to produce academic standard research materials so they can present them to these international conventions.

5. Maintain BMGs lead as a product and service leader.

Joji Ilagan-Bian
(Tumble Tot) Educational institutions, business process outsourcing

My main businesses are educational institutions (international franchise preschool, hospitality and tourism college, eight call center schools and a 200-seat call center in Davao and in Manila.

2007 was a good year for all our businesses. Our hospitality school has undergone major renovations; classrooms and working laboratories were all equipped with the most modern facilities in hospitality and culinary training.

We were able to open eight call center schools nationwide. Capitalizing on the current trend of overseas employment, we opened the biggest and most modern welding school in Mindanao and a health and caregiver school toward the end of the year.

The British Franchise Preschool, Tumble Tots, transferred to its own building in Quezon City providing more classrooms and a bigger play and activity area. This is now the biggest Tumble Tots school in the Asia-Pacific. We have added more classrooms in the Davao Tumble Tots; from six to eight classrooms and added computers in the rooms of the older kids.

From 172 seats in Davao City, the Six Eleven Global Services, our small call center, expanded in Manila to another 200 seats.

2007 was a very good year for all my businesses—we surpassed our growth targets. Normally, we would be happy with 10-15 increase in enrollment for our schools—but this year we hit 30 percent. We attribute this both to the good business environment; people have money to pay for quality education and they must have more disposable income in their hands. I am saying this because the enrollment in our Gymbabes (6 months old) in Tumble Tots and 2007 summer programs in all our schools registered an increase of 40 percent.

We were able to open three branches of call center schools in Mindanao because the demand for skilled call center agents from call centers were tremendous. We brought training and employment opportunities in partnership with the big call centers here in Manila down to the major cities of Mindanao.

I had just finished signing a cooperation agreement with TAFE New South Wales South Western Sydney Institute to jointly offer the Certificate 111 in Hospitality in my hospitality school in Davao; giving access to students in Mindanao to acquire TAFE training and certificate without traveling to Sydney. This will commence on June 2008.

We want to put up four more call center schools and welding training schools in major cities in Mindanao and establish stronger partnerships with businesses here in Manila and overseas so that we can provide more employment opportunities to our graduates. Normally, our employment rate is 65 percent; I am telling my people that we should hit 70-75 percent next year. We will be putting our own career placement office to focus on placement and employment of all our graduates—we will do this as free service to all our graduates.

The 200-seat call center which we put up here in Manila last November is not yet operating—so we have to move more aggressively and go out to where the small business partners are in the United States to get accounts to run in the call center by next year. For 2008, we are still following the same trend—of modest growth projections for the call center business that we have. We will embark on a massive industry marketing campaign together with the association of small call centers (Phil Call).

I believe that 2008 will be a year full of positive challenges—positive because I think there may be greater concerns to hurdle—but once we will be able to address these “positive problems,” business will be better. The outlook for small and medium sized businesses (like what I have) is bright—there will be more markets for us. One of the challenges is also to look beyond the Mindanao borders as a good market for products and services; be more flexible and creative in doing business, which we can easily do because of our size.

Vicki Jardiolin
(Natasha and Confetti) Direct selling and retail

Natasha [a direct selling company] had growth of about 20 percent. We started and intend to expand the Natasha Mall—a section in our catalogue where established brands such as Bobson, Bossini, Confetti, Dickies, Hanford, Nafnaf and Oshkosh display their selected products as in a real mall. Expansion of kids’ line are also planned. Expecting OFW remittances to increase purchases of apparel and personal care items though a strong peso is a cause for concern. This may dampen spending somewhat especially after the holiday spending.