Happily digital

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Kate Delos Reyes, country manager and country editor, Yahoo Philippines. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

Kate Delos Reyes, country manager and country editor, Yahoo Philippines. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

It wasn’t a surprise seeing a young and charming lady assuming the Philippine country head post of one of the most recognizable brands in the internet today. After all, the search engine company, Yahoo, has another powerful lady—Marissa Mayer—at its helm.

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Meet Kate Delos Reyes, the country manager and country editor of Yahoo Philippines. Her warm demeanor fully complements the colorful surroundings that envelope the Yahoo Philippines office, apart from the equally warm smiles of its employees.

The company is the Philippine office of Yahoo! Inc., the American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. The company needs little introduction, as it is globally known for its web portal, search engine, and related services, including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo Groups, and the like. The company itself claims that it attracts more than half a billion consumers every month in more than 30 languages all over the world.

Yahoo was founded by two electrical engineering graduate students of Stanford University— Jerry Yang and David Filo—in January 1994. They initially created a website named “Jerry and David’s guide to the World Wide Web,” which was renamed Yahoo! in 1995.

According to its corporate profile, the word “yahoo” is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” The founders, however, insisted that they selected the name mainly because they liked the slang definition of a yahoo, which then meant “rude, unsophisticated, or uncouth.” By 1998, Yahoo! became the most popular starting point for web users. Today, it competes mainly with Google for supremacy in the web.

Although the mother company has been around for quite some time, Delos Reyes said Yahoo Philippines only formally opened in May 2008. She related that they started out by renting a service office until Yahoo Philippines finally found its permanent office space in April 2011 in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. According to its corporate documents, the setting up of the company’s office in the country is an affirmation that the technology company fully realizes the potential that the Philippines offers as a key emerging market in the region.

Delos Reyes explained that Yahoo Philippines strengthened Yahoo’s portfolio in terms of content, communications, and community products in the quest to bring personalized and locally relevant online experiences to each user. Since she also heads the editorial team, she also personally oversees the types of content being produced by their offices and reports directly to their regional office in Singapore.

The soft-spoken country head said, “The internet in general is really a booming business, with our current internet penetration rate at 52-percent in the Philippines, from just 30-percent a couple of years ago.” This is why she said the Philippine market is a very good market to invest in. She also proudly stated that Yahoo Philippines is currently the number one media site in the country, according to a recent study.

“Overall, our mission is to make the daily habits inspiring and entertaining, and to put some heart into it,” Delos Reyes said. She added that while they do aggregate stories, they also make it a point to look for “good-vibe stories, and feature these Filipino people who make a mark or who inspire others.” To do this, Delos Reyes explained that the company explores strategic partnerships with other news organizations where the partners agree to provide content while Yahoo Philippines provides the distribution platform.

Looking at the medium term, Delos Reyes said that they are continuously open to experiment with content types and are not afraid to explore other avenues for growth. “In 2008, the company started with only two people, and now, we’re about forty. The team is comprised of editorial people, sales, business development and finance, with an emphasis on the editorial and sales aspects.”

The current corporate set-up of Yahoo Philippines is also one that Delos Reyes and her staff are quite happy about. This is because the organization is built in such a way that it encourages them to work in a more casual, non-restrictive environment. She said that she has a healthy relationship with her team and looks at her role as more like a mother who can be both strict and nurturing at the same time. She also emphasized her personal goal of continuous operational excellence in the workplace.

More importantly, Delos Reyes said, her job also allows her the flexibility of being able to perform her other roles in life, especially as a mother to her two-year-old son. The same flexibility also allowed her to pursue other activities that she is passionate about, such as her personal advocacy work. Overall, she said that she is perfectly happy with her work-life balance right now, that she does not see herself moving to another industry in the near future.

“I think digital is a very exciting space to be in, so I’d like to stay in the digital, online media industry if the universe would allow me to do that,” Delos Reyes said. And from all indications, it looks like the universe has already granted her wish.

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