As she effectively transformed the Philippine Postal Corp.’s (PHLPost) into a revenue-generating government-owned agency, its first female postmaster general (PMG) and chief executive officer Ma. Josefina Dela Cruz credits her successful three-term leadership as governor of Bulacan in seeing her through.
It was during this time that she developed her skills in leadership and steeled her determination in facing challenges in public service and economics–the very abilities, which allowed her to steer PHLPost into a brand new direction today.
“There were many challenges at PHLPost when I joined the organization but none that we could not overcome,” said Dela Cruz in a one-on-one with The Manila Times for its weekly CEO Corner.
Her vast experience in public service began at an early age of 21, when she was elected as the youngest councilor of Bocaue in Bulacan, thereafter working her way up elective posts until she became the governor of the province.
Armed with an impressive educational background—graduating Cum Laude in the 1980s from two consecutive degrees, namely Management Engineering and Psychology, at the Ateneo de Manila University—Dela Cruz was considered a valuable asset in her province.
Just the same, much was expected from the achiever when she was appointed to lead the new PHLPost, and she did not disappoint. Her program, “Re-engineering PHLPost,” won the People Management category of the World Mail Awards 2014 in Berlin, Germany on June 18—an achievement she humbly attributes to the employees of PHLPost.
“We owe the all the triumphs and success of the corporation receives to every employee, especially the letter carriers. This only attests that we are heading on the right path. With this award especially we can only go forward and continue to be of service to our fellow Filipinos,” Dela Cruz said.
The World Mail Awards 2014 is the most prestigious award ceremony in the postal sector recognizing excellence and innovation as conducted by Triangle Management Services Limited.
Celebrating National Stamp Collecting Month this November, PHLPost now has an established structure with better facilities and a modern fleet of delivery vehicles. Its services are no longer defined by stamps, snail mail, and paper-based money order as the agency is now scaling up to express, logistics, electronic remittance, and cross-border e-commerce.
Moreover, Dela Cruz is proud of the financial turnaround of PHLPost, having been able to remit dividends to the National Government for the first time. PHLPost earned P110 million in the first seven months of operation under the leadership of Dela Cruz who took office in July 2011.
Dela Cruz recalled, “When I came here, PHLPost had only P5 million in its coffers. That was not even enough for the one month salaries of 11,000 employees. Worse, it had P266 million loses accumulated in the past years.”
Admittedly, Dela Cruz found the situation difficult, but after her factual assessment of the organization’s situation, she determinedly gathered available resources and manpower to improve PHLPost’s operations.
Among her early triumphs was to convince Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to avail of their postal services for 2012 worth P5.6 million. Dela Cruz also persuaded other private companies to sign on for PHLPost’s courier services among them BDO and PLDT, and Philhealth and SSS.
“We are no longer limited to being a stamp company. We are now also a logistics company that can deliver cash and parcels door to door,” she said.
Dela Cruz was also able to implement new systems that resulted to favorable changes that continue to take place at PHLPost.
“If there’s one legacy I want to leave in this organization, it would be how I was able to uplift the situation of its employees who are now enjoying the fruits of those innovations,” she related.
These innovations comprise of the following:
Rationalization plan. After her strategic review of the company, 3,301 employees who volunteered to retire reduced PHLPost’s manpower, enabled the organization to prioritize its corporate budget.
“From 11,000 employees around the country, we were reduced to about 9,000,” Dela Cruz said. The savings resulting from the rationalization planenabled the Post to offer better compensation packages for employees, who previously received one of the lowest salaries in the industry. PHLPost salaries increased from 13 percent to 30 percent.”
Employee empowerment. Today PHLPost provides employees a world of opportunities, including participating in local and international trainings and conferences.
Employees are also encouraged to pursue higher degree of education or specialized courses through an Educational Assistance Program. With these, they are afforded chances to rediscover their sense of mission by conducting team-building activities, workshops and various wellness activities.
Performance management system. Employees’ performances are now planned, monitored, evaluated, and rewarded. With the Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS), corporate targets are translated to individual targets, providing every unit and employee a clear direction of what needs to be accomplish.
Open communication. Various means of communication between the management and employees are now in place. Dela Cruz takes time to travel all over the Philippines to carry out face-to-face interaction with postmasters and letter carriers so that corporate thrusts are communicated clearly and employees’ sentiments are addressed properly.
There are also corporate performance assessment and action planning every quarter, gathering of birthday celebrants every month, corporate publications every month, the PHLPost Text Alert, and use of other social media.
Better facilities and modern equipment. Dela Cruz also prioritized addressing the problem of fully depreciated vehicles, outdated machines and equipment, and manual processes over since July 2011.
With the three-year Refleeting Program, postal employees now drive new and rebranded vehicles in the transport of mails, with targets to add on 483 more vehicles by 2017.
Information technology. From traditional snail mails, PHLPost has taken a big leap to networked digital postage meter machines with initial implementation involving about 222 machines. The computerization of business processes is also ongoing.
An in-house IT department is busy developing various systems like the Financial Management Information System, Funds Management System, Personnel Management Information System, and of course the Pinoy e-mail (e-commerce platform).
Moreover, PHLPost has used IT to introduce stamps to the Filipinos in a new dimension through its “Selfie” Booth producing personalized stamps.
Added services. Besides mail delivery, PHLPost has transitioned to express delivery and moving bulk shipments like election paraphernalia and relief goods through its logistic services. Paper-based money order also no longer defines PHLPost payment services as it has migrated to electronic money transfer, bills payment, collections and payout services.
In collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Land Bank of the Philippines, PHLPost was able to implement payout for the poorest families under the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, even to the remotest areas in the Philippines.
It also partnered with the Department of Health in delivering medicines to the rural health units, as well as with the Commission on Election in the delivery of election paraphernalia.
The Philippines’ Outsourced Collection Industry also became an ally for PHLPost in providing bills payment and collection services. In 2012, it sealed an alliance with DHL for international express delivery services for destinations not serviceable by its in-house express mail service.
With all her achievements as postmaster, Dela Cruz said still has a greater vision for the corporation if she is given the chance to prove its worth to the public.
“I know my purpose here,” she added.
Asked whether she thinks about going back to politics, she smiled and admitted, “To be honest, I am now happy with what I am doing here. I am very grateful to those employees who fully cooperate with me to bring back to life this very office they have been serving for many years.”