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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is doing a good job being the CEO of Philippines, Inc. This was the assessment of Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion in an interview over RadyoPilipinas last November 21. “I’ve actually been asked several times on several interviews on how well he did during our foreign trips, and I can say he did quite well as CEO of Philippines, Inc.,” he said. Concepcion joined the President on at least two foreign official trips.
Concepcion, himself the CEO of RFM Corp., has served as Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship under two Philippine Presidents. “Travel is important. Like us businessmen, we go to other countries, and our companies are public, so we want to go there and visit them and invite them and invest in our company – that’s the job of a CEO,” he said. “You cannot build relationships over the phone, you build relationships by being there. Most business discussions are built on trust; how can you build trust if you don’t see them? They only get to see you and hear you when you visit them,” said Concepcion.
Since being elected President, Marcos has received several invitations to official meetings, such as the working visit to the US last September; the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Thailand in November, and the coming World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January. He also managed to attend an informal event in Singapore, which Concepcion believes wasalso important.
“Those [informal meetings] are important. Many business transactions happen when you play golf, for instance. Many people talk on the sidelines, that’s how you build relationships,” he said. “Relationships are not only built on conferences, relationships are also built on leisure.”
Concepcion also observed that Marcos was effective in convincing investors that the Philippines is a good place to do business. “During our Cambodia visit, he gave them confidence that the government is solidly behind the private sector, whether the local private sector or foreign investors, the Philippines is open for investments,” he said.
Concepcion pointed out that this is especially important for the tourism sector, and for the many MSMEs that depend on tourist arrivals.
Concepcion observed that the President was also smart in inviting former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to join him at the 29th APEC Summit in Thailand. “PGMA knows all the leaders, and she was a great support to him during the meetings,” he said. “The President is the new face out there; the leaders are still trying to get to know him.”
Concepcion described the President as amiable and humble in his dealings, and is very frank in answering questions and shares even the challenges investors might face. “Overall, he is a good marketing person, and it’s important as a leader that you are effective at marketing your country,” he said.
He added that the President was able to differentiate the Philippines from other countries by building up the country’s OFWs. “The Filipinos are the biggest differentiator, he always emphasizes this. We have a lot of OFWs all over the world, we supply the biggest manpower in maritime and in nursing. The human factor, the Filipinos being friendly and hospitable, he is able to successfully project that to the other countries,” he said.