Oro BPOs cope with Sendong aftermath

Feb 17, 2012

by Mike Banos

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – This city’s three major Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) were fortunate enough to escape the wrath of Tropical Storm Sendong whose killer floods caused over a thousand fatalities and caused over a billion pesos worth of damage to public infrastructure and private property. But that didn’t mean they were exempted from the fallout from its aftereffects.

Concentrix, which operates the city’s biggest call center at Pueblo de Oro’s IT Park in Uptown Cagayan de Oro, is one of the company’s three locations in the Philippines besides Manila and Davao. Its parent company SYNNEX Corporation is listed in the New York Stock Exchange (SNX) with over 25 years of expertise in technology, consumer electronics, broadcast and social media operating in 11 countries worldwide.

Vigor D. Amador, Jr.,  associate vice president for Philippines Contact Center Operations of Concentrix, relates the company’s experience in the aftermath of Sendong;

“When “Sendong” hit the region, we had a momentary downtime caused by the power outage and data and phone circuit breaks within our telco service providers’ network. As we have redundant power and multiple routes for our data and phone connectivity, we were back up in no time and our ability to process transactions for our clients was not adversely affected.”

To cover for staff affected by the disaster, the company tapped personnel from Davao and Libis. At the same time it was taking care of business, the company immediately started accounting for its entire staff and was able to determine all their status within several hours after the killer floods rampaged through the city.

“We mobilized a text, phone and social media brigade to contact each employee and another separate task force to assessment areas where our employees were concentrated and account for those who had not checked in thru our command center,” Mr. Amador recalls. “We also went around the various evacuation centers looking for our employees while doling out relief goods.”

Fortunately there were no casualties although 240 of the firm’s approximately 1,000 agents were affected, of whom 30 had houses completely destroyed, and for whom the firm provided temporary housing. Financial assistance was extended to all the victims from the firm’s internal calamity fund.

“Help poured in from everywhere — our offices in Manila and Davao; from our mother company SYNNEX Corporation; other Concentrix geo’s in the US, UK, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and India; and from our clients and their employees.”

Cash and relief goods poured in and medications like tetanus vaccine and prophylaxis antibiotics to protect against the Leptospirosis outbreak were issued to employees at risk in cooperation with government health agencies.

Another of the city’s BPO companies wasn’t so lucky. Syntactics is a small but multi-awarded BPO firm which has been cited by DTI and MSMED in Sept.2010 as its Outstanding MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) in the micro category and ranked No. 2 in the Philippines as outstanding web development company.

Seventeen of its staff of fifty was affected, with 10 losing everything and another six with damaged properties. Stephanie P. Caragos, President and CEO, lost an uncle in the flash flood which hit nearby Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental.

Employees reporting for work the day after found their office at Corrales Avenue without light and water. The company was slated to have its Christmas party that same evening.

“We cancelled the Christmas party to help our affected team members and everybody gave their kriss kringle to help their fellow team members,” Ms. Caragos said. “ We also provided a temporary place to stay for those who didn’t have family or relatives here. We had one apartment ready for them to stay till they found another place to stay or had returned to their places around 2nd week of January.”

The company proved its reputation was well-earned by showing grit and resiliency in getting the firm back online with a generator to provide electricity and manually hauling fresh water up six flights of stairs to their third floor office.

Another BPO firm, Arriba Telecontact Inc. has been in the global outsourcing industry since 2005 thanks to its CEO, Engr. Elpidio M. Paras who has been a prime mover and ICT advocate in Southern Philippines.

Besides Arriba, Mr. Paras has also set up Parasat Cable TV, a pioneer multi-system cable TV operator in the Visayas and Mindanao; Cable 21 Technologies, a broadband over internet service provider; Paramedix, a medical transcription company; Versatel, an English language training center and has equity in Syntactics, Inc.

His son Alexander G. Paras, who now oversees Arriba and Paramedix, relates their experience with Sendong: “There was a power outage that night although our operations weren’t interrupted since Arriba is located within the same compound as Parasat (our mother company) head end was located.  Their UPS (uninterruptible power supply) had enough capacity to accommodate our power requirements  for hours. We just had to buy extra cans of fuel to make sure our generator was topped up. Arriba’s broadband connectivity was not compromised even for a minute , since Parasat had multiple redundancy.”

It was only in the morning when the extent of Sendong’s devastation became evident and Arriba’s team leaders tried but were unable to account for all their staff who failed to report the previous night.

“Our sister company Paramedix had more affected people than us,” the younger Mr. Paras said. “It was sad to hear that one of their team members’ family was lost.”

With support from the group’s holding company UC-1, the firm distributed relief goods to its staff affected by the disaster.

“We were also thankful that our partners in the US made a generous donation to the families affected. Even our suppliers in Manila donated money for relief goods not only for our staff but also for everyone else that were affected. Our operations has resumed since the start of the year.”

Exactly a week after Sendong’s killer floods struck, Concentrix hosted Noche Buena for its affected employees and their families at their office and gave out gifts to the children.

“We knew then that preparing for the Christmas salo-salo may not be their priority at that time so we did it for them instead,” Mr. Amador said. “It’s through team effort that we were able to help our affected employees re-build what they lost to Sendong.”

–   I N D N J C –

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