P&A GRANT Thornton Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Maria Victoria C. Españo describes herself as a chief strategist who primarily steers the firm through its path. She recognizes, however, that the task of defining their strategy and implementing it is not solely her responsibility, as the roles of everyone in the firm are just as important in achieving the goals of their company. "My partners, all of us, have a strong stake in the growth of the firm through collective decision-making. Everybody in the firm should understand our strategy and know how essential each individual's contribution is in unlocking our potential for growth," she told BusinessWorld in a recent interview. Ms. Españo has been employing this collaborative and inclusive approach in her leadership since she took the helm of P&A in 2010. That year, P&A started crafting its five-year business strategy which, according to Ms. Españo, served as their firm's compass in determining its path. This scheme also enabled them to pinpoint the areas of improvement in terms of the firm's service delivery and its people's competency. Five years later, they had their strategy redrafted for another five years. "Our goal is to become the leading adviser to these dynamic organizations. To achieve this, we have to grow together with our clients, our people and our community," Ms. Españo expounded on the strategy of P&A. "We strive to contribute our value to the business of our clients. This means that the quintessence of our plans is to deliver the services that will assist our clients to realize their growth plans. We are aware that their businesses are being shaped by various drivers of change — regulations, competitive markets, globalization, technological changes and the race for right talents — and, as such, we aim to provide them with insights on the challenges and opportunities that they had to face." "The engagement of our people is very important to our success since they are our primary assets. This means that as we aspire to do our job well and deliver the best services that we can, we must also understand our people and motivate them to grow with us," Ms. Españo said. This is one of the biggest challenges that she has to deal with. "Sometimes I think the emphasis of our competition is solely on the millennials. One must recognize that at this particular point of our history, you'll have people in the organization [from] three generations — the baby boomers, the Generation X'ers and the millennials. All three would be searching for their particular kind of leaders. So, how do we engage with these distinctive generations then," she asked. To achieve that, she said P&A has been actively engaged in developing a culture where its people could have more diverse knowledge and experiences. They get to undergo training programs as well as exposure to other ty pes of responsibilities besides their line of expertise. Aside from just performing audits, they may also be assigned to tax or advisory roles so that their mind-set becomes multifaceted. This ultimately aims to mold them into becoming holistic advisors to clients. She also emphasized the importance of arriving at a cooperative relationship with the regulators of their profession and the business of their clients. "It is not all about business, but also looking for specific means through which we, as professionals, can contribute to make this community a place where businesses will flourish and people will thrive," she said. As the P& A's steward, three corporate values serve as her guidance: excellence, accountability, and transparency. "I believe that all of us must always seek to do the best that we can in any job or task that is given to us. As long as you truly believe that you did your best, you have achieved more than was what was expected. Accountability goes with excellence because when we feel that we are responsible for the task given to us, then we have that commitment to make sure that [we will give our best in whatever is assigned to us]. The third one is transparency; our people [should] know what is happening and how we are doing; they also understand where we are heading in the future," she explained. For Ms. Españo, the biggest challenge would be ensuring that their firm continues to thrive so that their clients would see that they are continuing to add value to their business, while at the same time securing their people's confidence that they have a future in the firm and that they are being taken care of.
By: Jennibeth B. Reforsado Special Features Writer
As published in Business World dated 23 December, 2016