People are coming back to Lipa, a first-class city in Batangas province located 78 kilometers south of Manila, as business process outsourcing companies now offer highly-paid and permanent jobs in the area.
Thousands of call center agents and BPO professionals pump millions into the local economy of Lipa, supporting the growth of real estate and retail sectors that are evident in the presence of large shopping malls such as SM and Robinsons.
Lipa, which has a population of more than 300,000 people, has 10 BPO companies including TeleTech Customer Care Management Philippines Inc., Alorica Philippines Inc., Tele-Accent Call Center Solutions Inc., Bubu IT Solutions Inc., Lasting Line Contact Center Inc., Primary Care Management Inc., Clear To Close Services Inc., SPT Business Resources Inc., Maestro Systemas Technologies and The Results Companies.
Alorica, one of the largest BPO companies, has opened 2,000 jobs in Lipa in recent months, according to senior vice president for operations Colleen Beers.
Alorica, which is headquartered in Irvine, California, employs 48,000 team members in 73 locations across the globe. Alorica completed the acquisition of West Corp.’s agent services businesses for $275 million in 2015. The acquisition made Alorica among the largest BPO providers in the US.
Its facility at SM City Lipa is one of the largest in the world. Alorica pays new customer agents a monthly salary of P15,000, excluding allowances.
“We have very healthy benefits. We do have a lot of allowances. We have a lot of opportunities to earn additional incentives. We have a lot of employee engagement,” Beers says.
Beers, who is responsible for the company’s Philippine operations, says Alorica’s ‘mega facility’ in Lipa now has 2,500 employees, up from just 500 last year. She describes Lipa City as a goldmine for Filipino talents. “In Lipa alone, we were 500 agents in June 2015. We are 2,500 agents right now,” she says. “We are investing in our facilities. We had to add 750 seats in our Lipa facility. That started in the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2015.”
She says the strategy to open a facility in Lipa has paid off. “It has worked. When I think about the number of applicants sitting there, it is very exciting. It is amazing, the untapped talent there. We are going to communities,” says Beers.
Beers says there is almost zero attrition rate in Lipa City. “We are developing the culture, we are developing the staff, we are making those investments in Lipa. The people are eager to work, they are very passionate. They are learning the different cultures from our clients. We have our hands full,” she says. Attrition or churn rate refers to the percentage of employees leaving the company for various reasons.
Job openings at Alorica include customer service representatives, technical service agents, quality analysts, trainors and supervisors, she says.
She says Alorica employees have an opportunity to become supervisors or managers. The company, she says, is spending a substantial amount to train its employees for managerial positions. “About 96 percent of frontline managers come from internal [organization]. Today, 70 percent of those positions are promoted from within. Alorica provides career enhancement. For a lot of folks, this is their first real leadership positions…We are really making a lot of investment in leadership,” she says.
Beers says in Lipa City alone, Alorica is training 150 brand new leaders.
Beers says 96 percent of engagement team managers actually started at Alorica as engagement specialists.
With more than 12,000 team members in the Philippines, Alorica plans to hire an additional 6,000 customer engagement experts in the country, including its site in Batangas in the first half of 2016.
Beers, a mother of six children from San Antonio, Texas and a former nurse, began her current role in May 2015. As senior vice president of Alorica, she is responsible for the company’s operations in the Philippines, the company’s fastest growing site. Before joining Alorica, Beers had worked for Aegis, ACS and Harte-Hanks Inc.
“We are very excited about our growth in the Philippines. We are a very transparent company, and we are very passionate. We are fun, down-to-earth, we are humble,” says Beers.
Beers says the rise of the ‘millennials’ has challenged the company to step up and be different.
“We had phenomenal growth. Our estimated revenue for 2015 is $1.2 billion, which is nearly 100 percent increase or double our total revenue in 2014. It is an exceptional growth. This growth would allow us to invest back into our business and expand our business specifically here in the Philippines,” she says.
Beers, a veteran of the BPO industry, joined Alorica in 2014. “When I was interviewed, I sat for three hours with the CEO. I have been a senior vice president for BPO before, but I can tell you it was not three hours. He is very engaging. He challenges me,” she says, referring to Alorica chairman and chief executive Andy Lee.
“I am really excited to be here. It is an exciting time in general in the BPO space. I know I joined the right organization. They allow me to be me, but they encourage me to bring out the passion that I have. I love the Philippines because they accept that,” she says.
Beers was put in charge of operations, with focus on key markets such as the Philippines. “As of February, we had 12,000 employees here. We have five sites in the Philippines. We have so much growth that for the first quarter, our projection is 6,000 employees hired,” she says.
Aside from its mega site in Lipa, Alorica is expanding in Makati City with a plan to occupy two floors of Exportbank Building along Gil Puyat Ave. which will employ another 1,000 agents. Alorica also has facilities at Alphaland Southgate Mall along Chino Roces Ave. in Makati City, Robinsons Cybergate 1 in Mandaluyong City and Skyrise Building 1 at Asiatown IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.
“Our clients and Alorica love the work ethic here, love the passion. We just love the skills sets. It is just exceptional, the kind of service we have here. The Philippines is definitely a key part of our strategic growth,” she says.
Beers says Alorica, given its success in Batangas and the Philippines, is returning the favor to the Filipino people. In January this year, Alorica launched a learning hub in Lipa City, which is a 40-seat classroom wired with computers and outfitted with furniture and appliances for the students of Pinagtong-ulan National High School.
“Beyond the office or clients, the other thing we are passionate about is our investment in community. We want to be really especial. We came up with this idea to invest in local schools. This process has evolved. This started with collecting backpacks and school supplies. Now, it has evolved to ‘adopt a school program’. We adopted two schools,” she says.
“Probably one of the amazing experience I had in my life time. We picked an area….We toured the school and realized they didn’t have computers. So we developed this learning lab,” she says.
Beers says ‘making lives’ better for employees and the community is a part of Alorica’s goal. “It comes down to making lives better, one interaction at a time,” she says.