Connect with us

Interviews

Rizalina G. Mantaring, CEO of Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc.

Published

on

It was Riza Mantaring’s vision that allowed Sun Life Financial- Philippines (SLFP) to achieve a feat that it could have never accomplish before: become the No. 1 life insurance company in the Philippines, and maintain this for five consecutive years amidst aggressive competition.

Now that’s quite a feat for someone whose background is rooted in IT. In fact, Riza’s first task upon joining SLFP was turning Manila into its IT hub – a job she could successfully accomplish after only five years in the company. “I was eager to learn, and so when my bosses asked me what I wanted to do next, I asked to be assigned to a department I knew very little about, which was Operations,” she shared.

It was a brave move asking to be assigned in an unfamiliar territory, but Riza was able to use this to her advantage. “Having no background in Operations made people receptive to my questions,” she said. She then used what she learned to re-engineer SLFP’S systems and operations, and streamlining significant processes in the company.

After that, Riza took on more responsibilities in different departments within the company. “There were several instances in my career when I was asked to do things that I had no background in,” she shared. “I willingly agreed to do jobs that nobody wanted. It was a challenge, yes, but I learned.”

All these prepared her for what would be her biggest role in the company as its CEO and President.

It was in this position that Riza’s exceptional ability as a leader was dramatically demonstrated. When she stepped in as SLFP’s president, several challenges welcomed her, such as the low GDP growth, low rate of insurance ownership, and low rate of financial literacy in the country. Internally, Sun Life itself also had its own concerns to deal with, from the flat core net income to the struggle to grow the agency force.

Riza faced all the challenges head-on, empowered by two things: first, her passion to make a difference in the lives of Filipinos and help them achieve financial freedom. “We have to make the disadvantaged groups of the population grow in prosperity. In a rising tide, all boats rise. Economic growth will stop if you aren’t able to bring the bottom up,” she explained.

Second, Riza was also confident in the innate talent of the Sun Life community. “I believe in hiring very good people, then letting them run things. I don’t micromanage,” she says. “Of course it’s also important to hone teamwork. You can have the most brilliant people, but if they’re not working towards a common goal, then you won’t get far.”

Riza put into place a five-year growth plan that would push the company to pursue ambitious goals: growing its agency force to 5,000, and achieving 5 Billion pesos in annual first year premiums (AFYP), 5 Billion pesos in net income, and 50 Billion assets under management (AUM).

Considering how far below these targets the numbers were at back then, it wasn’t going to be easy. But with Riza at the helm, Sun Life built a high-performance culture in all levels of the organization, enabling flawless execution of the company’s strategies. Thus, in 2015, Sun Life concluded its five-year growth plan on a high note: 7,700 Advisors, P7.019 Billion AFYP, P5.655 Billion Net Income, and P50.668 Billion AUM.

Looking at the bigger picture, SLFP’s most significant feat is redefining the industry and bringing life insurance to the forefront. Sun Life now enjoys 77% total brand awareness in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao. In Campaign Asia’s 2016 report on the Top 100 brands in the Philippines, SLFP was the only insurance brand to make it to the list. Moreover, SLFP’s success was also honored in 19th Asia Insurance Industry Awards (AIIA), where it was the first Filipino company to be named “Life Insurance Company of the Year”; was recognized in the Customer Experience in Financial Services (CXFS) Asia Awards in Singapore for having the best customer service program in the insurance industry in Asia; and was recognized as the “Employer of the Year” by the People Management Association of the Philippines.

Without a doubt, it was under her leadership that the SLFP could unleash its brightest potential. Riza believes, the credit should go to SLFP employees and financial advisors, as they are the true key to the company’s success. “It is their tremendous work, passion, and excellence in everything they do that have fueled our rise. They are a vital cog in achieving greater heights,” she said.

But of course, her brilliant leadership has not gone unnoticed. In 2010, on the 100th anniversary of the University of the Philippines College of Engineering, Riza was selected as one of the 100 Most Outstanding Alumni of the past century. In 2011, she was named by MoneySense magazine as one of the 12 Most Influential in Personal Finance. She was bestowed the 2011 CEO Excel Award given by the International Association of Business Communicators; Go Negosyo named her as one of the country’s Top 50 Inspiring Women of Passion in 2014; and, in 2015, she was named a finalist in Asia CEO Awards for the category SMART Global Filipino Executive of the Year.

Amid the professional success, however, Riza is proudest of having raised, together with husband Chicho, three children who are successful on their own: daughter Tina is a member of Apple’s engineering team; son Gijo is in finance like herself, working in GM’s regional hub in Shanghai; while son Ino worked on special effects at DreamWorks and is now a data scientist.

In her spare time Riza runs, and has completed the New York, Chicago, Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo marathons over the last five years. Riza also actively participates in Sun Life’s CSR programs, where she travels to different parts of the Philippines to join donor-build programs and give the beneficiaries the moral boost they need.

Riza’s passion for helping others attain financial security has not diminished to this day. She believes that for every Filipino who can achieves financial freedom, the Philippines is one step closer in creating a brighter future for itself.

98

Callum Connects

Brad Adams, Managing Director of Ocean Grown Abalone

Published

on

Ocean Grown Abalone’s, Brad Adams is revolutionising abalone production in a clean, green and sustainable way off the south west coast of Australia.

What’s your story?
I grew up in the remote town of Augusta in the very south west of Western Australia where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.

My family have a long association with aquaculture and the fishing industry. I’m a 3rd generation fisherman and my father founded the commercial wild abalone diving industry in Flinders Bay in the 1960s.

I followed an aquaculture route, and after I completed my studies in Tasmania, I returned home to start the development of a new technique of growing abalone.

After close to 20 years researching, developing and inventing a new technology, OGA’s sea ranching technique was born and the ‘abitat’ was developed.

Sea ranching is an aquaculture technique where hatchery bred juvenile abalone are placed on OGA designed artificial reefs, ‘abitats’, which are placed in the ocean and left to nature to grow for 2-3 years until they reach a marketable size. They feed and survive in the wild.

The abalone produced from the sea ranch is identical to the highly sought after wild catch product, but has the competitive advantages that only aquaculture can provide. OGA can supply year round to meet market demands to whatever size or product specification the market requires.

Importantly, the sustainability of the abalone using the sea ranching technique is proven and monitored on an ongoing basis. Monitoring the ‘abitats’ and the sea ranching technology is paramount to OGA.

What excites you most about your industry?
That we can grow a premium seafood product which is highly revered in Asia, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The sea life we are seeing in Flinders Bay now that the reefs are down is incredible. We are seeing many different types of fish which were no longer in the bay as well as plenty of sea grass creating an underwater sustainable ecosystem.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and bred in Augusta in WA. OGA exports premium greenlip abalone to Asian markets including Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It has a strong seafood (especially abalone) culture developed with Australian exporters over many years. Also the buyers are great; relaxed people who enjoy having a good time showing you their amazing city.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only live once, so always follow your passions.

Who inspires you?
Andrew Forrest – his single minded purpose and determination, and how he uses his wealth to improve the lives of others.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories per hour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There are many things I would do differently if I had today’s hindsight as foresight, however all my mistakes, successes and decisions have made me the person I am today. I am comfortable with that.

How do you unwind?
I am a keen surfer. Being at one with the ocean is important to me.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Lembongan, Indonesia. Great waves, great food, great people

Everyone in business should read this book:
Grit – Angela Duckworth
“Success is the result of passion and persistence, not talent and luck.”

Shameless plug for your business:
OGA have developed the world’s first commercial greenlip abalone sea ranching facility. We build our own artificial abalone reefs (called abitats) on our leases in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay. We place hatchery reared juvenile abalone on them – then let nature (with a little help from our divers) do the rest to produce this marine delicacy. A totally natural, ‘wild-harvest’ product. Because we have some control of the process we can harvest to market demand to whatever size the market requires. We call this aquaculture technique sea ranching.

This video explains the business in 7 minutes: https://vimeo.com/225797022

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected] or
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oceangrownabalone/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Lex Na, CEO of Bountie Pte Ltd

Published

on

Lex is the founder of a digital agency, a couple of e-commerce businesses and he has just started a gaming, tech, blockchain business, Bountie.io which is his main focus.

What’s your story?
I’m a workaholic, not because I’m forced to but I absolutely love the grind. I may be conditioned due to my previous gaming experience. We as gamers have to play long hours everyday to level up as the difficulty increases. Everything I do right now is a step towards the greater good.
I’m the founder of a boutique Digital Agency and a couple of e-Commerce businesses. I have been in tech for more than 10 years. Those businesses are currently automated to hand to my partners so I can solely focus on Bountie.io.

What excites you most about your industry?
Bountie is in the Gaming/eSports/Technology/Cryptocurrency/Blockchain industry. It’s a combination of all the things I love to do and have been doing since I was young. Right now it’s at the forefront of the world’s economy.
I love the crazy pace, the hype and the future of this industry and it’s drawing the best and the brightest, the upcoming generation that will be the leaders of our future.
Everyday there’s something new, different and revolutionary happening.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I have been to most parts of Asia and I have been learning and observing other cultures, languages and lifestyles. I have also been to Europe and America. I still love the diversity here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s one of the many cities that’s truly efficient, meritocratic and frictionless. The only con is that it’s too small! Other than that, I love Singapore. We have great infrastructure and support. Low corporate taxes as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Live each day as if it’s my last. By Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech in Stanford. Although I didn’t receive it personally, I took it to heart. I listened to that speech multiple times, sometimes putting it on repeat whilst I was working. I really believe in giving everything I have every single moment of my life. Because life is so fragile, you’ll never know when your last day is. So I live everyday without regrets.

Who inspires you?
As above, Steve Jobs. He has an amazing story. I read his biography, watched a keynote presentation by him, saw the movie about him. His ideology and way of life inspires me. His attention to detail and perfectionist mindset, resulting in a legacy that’s still impacting our lives until now.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It was from someone whom I just knew for an hour. He told me that if I can find happiness in the same thing that makes me sad, that’s when I truly would be happy. I didn’t understand until he explained further.
An occurrence may result in a few reactions to a person. You can either look at the positive side or negative side, both are dependant on you personally. For example, a difficult boss may result in you becoming a more detailed employee, but you only think about how miserable your life is under him.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would do all this again, if not I wouldn’t be at the stage where I am at currently and where I will be in the future. I believe every single step of the way resulted in who and what I am presently. The tough times I have been through, regardless of how bad it was back then, made me stronger. If I could go back and change it, take the easy way out, I’ll be a softer person now.

How do you unwind?
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for about 3 years now. These two activities allow me to slow down and maintain a sane mind from my 14-16 hours of work, Monday to Sunday. I would strongly encourage anyone interested to try a “Calm” mobile app, it has free content for you to try before purchasing their premium content.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Langkawi Island in Malaysia. I unknowingly booked a flight there for my wife’s birthday about 2 years ago because it has a Starwood Hotel (I’m a platinum member). When I reached there I understood why it was one of the best islands to visit in Asia. The best experience I had was the island hopping on jet skis. We could ride fast and there weren’t caps like other touristy places and across huge distances with the guide. The waters were also clean and clear. A perfect getaway.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. One of the many books of our time that would remain as a timeless classic for entrepreneurs and business owners. Great interview questions which reveal deep insights into the inner workings of each and every one of his guests. He also asks some similar questions to multiple guests, from there the reader is able to distinguish that there isn’t one fixed method that the successful people follow, but each of them have a different path. So follow the ones that resonate with you and you’ll still be able to reach the point of success.

Shameless plug for your business:
1. Advisors and Mentors – Industry experts who have been there and done that. We need your wisdom and guidance through this challenging path.
2. Investors – In order to achieve what we aim to in our projected timeline and pace, we need more money to give us the runway and fuel to do it.
3. Team members – We are expanding at breakneck speed, from 2 guys to now 24 people working to make Bountie a success. But in order to increase the speed of growth, we need more “A” players who share our vision and are willing to work hard together to make this happen.

How can people connect with you?
It’s usually the case if you want to reach out to people in a company, by emailing [email protected] So make a guess, drinks on me for the right answer.

Twitter handle?
Unfortunately I do not have Twitter nor Instagram. I do have Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lexfromhotmail) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lexna/) if you wish to connect via social. From there we can connect and chat further!

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending