Work ethic, adaptability: What local, foreign workplaces can learn from OFWs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) — Having spent time both in the Philippines and abroad, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are in a good place to share with local and foreign companies the best practices they have learned.

That's according to successful business executives who spent a significant amount of time working overseas who spoke to CNN Philippines' The Exchange on Friday, recalling the best practices and behaviors they acquired throughout the years.

"When I tell them that I am from the Philippines, they're happy to know that the Filipinos are at par with the best in the world," said Ernest Estrella, who serves as general manager of UMAC Express Cargo Singapore.

Estrella said he performs his duties and responsibilities "based on the highest industry standard and best industry practice" given his status as finance executive in a multinational company, with years of experience in the Middle East and North America up his sleeve.

BC Remit London founder and managing director Oliver Calma agrees with Estrella's insights.

"We Filipinos are quite smart and we can match it with the best of the world," said Calma, noting the fast-paced nature of technology which also shapes how he manages his fintech - his passion allowing him to ride along the quick pace and learn speedily, too.

"Aside from the hard work, it's our dedication and you know, the service that we provide to our customers in general," said Calma, when asked what lessons could Europeans pick up from Filipino nationals.

Aside from excellent work ethic, foreign firms can also take note of Filipinos' adaptability, according to BPI chief operating officer Ramon Jocson.

"When brought abroad and they are reintroduced to systems that are very disciplined, they can readily adapt. Filipinos are very good in learning. Filipinos are very good in adapting," said Jocson, who has nearly two decades of experience working overseas.

On the flipside, returning overseas Filipino workers can also introduce the best practices to their new local employers, the bank executive added.

Jocson's stay abroad sharpened and molded his management style - and he made sure to bring with him learnings such as shorter meetings, more pointed objectives, and an "inspect what you expect" mindset.

"Most Filipinos are passive in the way they manage people. Also, high performance culture is sort of alien here," he explained. "I think we need to bring back those practices here in the Philippines so that we can compete in the global market."

Jocson advised OFWs to be an "enabler" of positive change when they return to the country.

"There are several things in our society and maybe in the way we manage here that we can readily change for the better," he said.