One of the most remarkable business success stories is that of a consulting firm that operates under the principles of the Economy of Communion (EoC). This success story was shared with us by the Focolare Movement’s international publication - New City. Published in their April - May 2011 edition, author Jose Aranas condensed the article to fit your Chair Wrecker’s space.
The Ancilla Story by Jose Aranas
“Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting is an enterprise of the Economy of Communion (EoC) which was founded in 1991, the year that Focolare founder Chiara Lubich launched the EoC in Brazil at the service of the poor. Ancilla is a Latin word which means handmaid. This choice of company title indicates the desire to be a helping hand and effective support for business enterprises. To know more about Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, you may visit its website (www.ancillaedc.com.ph).
The protagonist in this true-to-life story is Tita Datu-Puangco, Ancilla founder, president and CEO. Her calling to this mission started when she was a young girl when she felt the need to change many things, and work to establish greater justice in society. After her studies at an American university on a scholarship grant, in 1972 she met the Focolare Movement. After meeting this Movement, she understood then that change in society could only happen by starting with oneself and by putting one’s trust in God.
In 1991, Tita understood that she could set up a management consultancy enterprise that would focus on and tap her core competencies. She felt that God wanted her to “start building her mansion in heaven,” so she asked Renato, her husband, if she could resign from her lucrative work as vice president of a well-known bank to start a consultancy practice. Her husband supported her, and together they decided to build her office over their garage. This occurred after she had just given birth to their fourth child, with their three other children still in school. Thus it took a great leap of faith for both Tita and her husband.
The person at the center
Tita with her team has formulated Ancilla’s mission, that is to “be a helping hand” in enabling change breakthroughs toward enterprise global effectiveness and leader stewardship, adopting practices which respect the dignity of the human person. Its values are unity, excellence, community of sharing, respect for the human person, innovation and integrity. At the center of Ancilla’s business concerns is the human person. She lived up to this principle during the economic crisis that swept over Asia in the late 1990s. While many Philippine businesses retrenched employees, the company opted not to expand, but to increase salaries to cushion the impact of the crisis on the families of their associates. Unexpectedly, Tita was still able to manage the company with a certain profit because some of their biggest clients worldwide never left them as partners for the Asia-Pacific region. At the height of the crisis, these companies kept on faithfully paying their fees.
State of the business
Now Ancilla has nearly 1,000 clients, with many belonging to the top 100 Philippine business corporations, plus a number of ASEAN based companies. The company has grown to employ 15 associates and 48 project professionals today. It has obtained assignments from important public and private organizations, which demonstrates the confidence that it inspires. The Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines has given Ancilla the task of piloting professional accreditation of medical representatives.
The firm has become a consultant for important projects in the energy consumer goods and business process outsourcing (bpo) sectors.
Ancilla has sought strong and strategic alliances with other firms, such as Eagles Flight International in Canada, the Enterprise Development International and Symlog in the United States, and Consulus, a brand management company in Singapore.
The company is also able to provide many poor families with their basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and the means to send many poor children to school. Another part of their profit is given for the education and development of people, especially young people in the EoC culture of giving.
Corporate challenges today
Operating in the market place just like any other business enterprise, Ancilla faces daily challenges in the complex market world.
The first challenge is the retention, development and growth of consultants. Tita shares: “The EoC spirit sometimes results in consultants and clients taking advantage of us. For example, one consultant was assigned to be the project manager of a year-long project with a multinational company. Later, she discovered by chance that he had set up his own enterprise and bid for a year’s project at half our company price.” Tita adds, “so, these unethical practices do happen. To this kind of situation, we respond with Christ’s teaching which advises us to forgive 70 times 70.”
A second challenge comes from the negative behavior of competitors. Often in business Ancilla comes head to head with a global consulting company, but as a policy, she said, “we try never to say anything negative about competitors.”
Third, is a need for global consulting technologies. Their business is subject to foreign currency ups and downs. Although Ancilla has found partners open to its situation, it foresees that in the coming years, it will become more expensive to offer the best to its clients at competitive rates.
The fourth challenge consists of equipping the company with Internet and digital features, which requires substantial investments and continuous updating.
What is her attitude when facing all these challenges? With confidence, Tita shares, “as long as we put the person and good relationship at the center of our business enterprise, we are sure that God will give us the inspiration and insights to pursue the innovations we need so as to continue quality service in our field.”
Indeed, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world but in the end loses his soul? In the EoC enterprises, the businessman builds up on spiritual merits while still realizing ethically attained profits.
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