As mid-market businesses in the Philippines gear up to compete on the global stage, a significant change must be made in the business landscape. To achieve parity with international competitors, mid-market businesses in the Philippines must focus on three critical areas: brand development, people investment, and sustainability. 

Building Brand with a Purpose 

According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, 73% of mid-market businesses in the Philippines are planning to increase investment in their brand. Agreeably, today, branding goes beyond mere sales, logos, and slogans; it commits to a cause that benefits everything and everyone. Firms do not just aim at increasing the brand, but also aim to create a brand with purpose.  

As highlighted in an article by Forbes, a brand purpose blurs the line between growth in profit and growth for good. Having a strong brand purpose should be the foundation of a company’s direction. It should address a need or problem by anyone and improve their quality of life. Through this, understanding the brand's purpose will enable the company to distinguish themself from other competitors because they have established a connection with clients and people who align with their values. 

At P&A Grant Thornton, for instance, we have integrated ‘belonging’ into our DEIB initiatives because we have noticed how everyone can be included in the narrative but not everyone feels belonged. With this, we make a space where we offer support to all employees and ensure that they do not feel out of place in the Firm. We also have an open-door policy which encourages open communication between executives and their people. We make sure that our people are heard, encouraged, and continuously growing both professionally and personally. Our purpose is to build a thriving community where they can develop their skills, find meaning in their work, and grow alongside their colleagues. 

This strengthens our definition of a brand purpose; it is a shared value not just for profit but reshaping the traditional notions of what a firm should be. It is time to be accountable and responsible for the actions that we take and ensure that businesses can thrive while contributing to societal good. 

Investing in Innovation and People 

Retaining and attracting top talent is crucial for sustaining global ambitions. By providing adequate training and development opportunities, often facilitated by technology, mid-market firms equip their employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the global market. 

To achieve this, the Philippine mid-market firms are taking two approaches. First, they are demonstrating the value they place on their workforce by investing more in people with 82% of mid-markets opting to do this. Second, they recognize the need for a tech-savvy workforce in a global marketplace to build a more skilled and productive workforce. With this, mid-market firms are heavily investing in upskilling current employees through increased investment in Research & Development (R&D) (81%) and technology (82%). This focus on upskilling not only enhances staff capabilities but also addresses the challenge of attracting talent in a competitive market. 

A strong employer brand that prioritizes employee well-being and development will be more effective in attracting and retaining skilled talents from both domestic and international markets

Adapting Leadership for Global Success  

When entering the global scene, a good sense of leadership must be adapted. This includes having a global mindset, forming connections with other global firms, and adapting a clear strategy for a firm’s success. To be good leaders, one must be able to adapt easily to any environment one is put into. In another Forbes article, leaders who have an innovative mindset and flexible attitude can guide the firm towards success as it is a template for the firm’s brand and behavior.  

The leaders of P&A Grant Thornton remarkably adapt to local and international markets through their various participation to all markets. Such participation includes their memberships in various professional organizations broaden their understanding of diverse business landscapes, attaining a higher education at universities abroad to prowess their skills in international concepts, and collaborating with other Grant Thornton Member Firms to further strengthen their global relationship. 

Effective leadership fosters a cyclical growth of investments, attracting great talents essential for retaining good clients. This aligns with the idea that leadership is the root of the success of a business.  

A Need for Strategic Sustainability 

Sustainability is no longer a peripheral concern among businesses. It has become a strategic imperative. With 78% of mid-market businesses in the Philippines investing in sustainable initiatives, it’s clear that sustainability is a priority. This focus is driven by both regulatory demands and a growing recognition of the long-term benefits of sustainable practices. In other words, sustainability is no longer just about switching to paper straws anymore, rather it is about creating a comprehensive commitment to being sustainable through a series of programs and initiatives. 

At P&A Grant Thornton, we have embraced sustainability as part of our brand purpose. We do this not just for the sake of the environment, but for people and their communities. Our initiatives include cleaning the ocean, teaching various communities, and adding sustainable-driven policies to the Firm. This push for sustainability may create a lasting impact for all. I still want thousands of generations to experience the beauty that our world has to offer. I am committed to these initiatives for the sake of my family and loved ones, so they can have peace of mind knowing that we are actively making a positive difference in the world. 

The Philippine mid-market firms are poised for a global expansion fueled by brand purpose, talent investment, and sustainability. They are on the right track, as the focus now is to humanize the people and invest in issues that matter. Based on my observations, the economic performance of the Philippines has remained relatively strong in the second quarter of the year. This stability is largely due to our post-pandemic economic recovery and our increased focus on brand development and investment in people, which has led to higher-quality outcomes not only for our firm but for the economy as a whole. With this, perhaps in the next years as we continue to focus on expanding globally, we could open more doors for growth and collaboration far beyond our borders. 


As published in The Manila Times, dated 26 June 2024