Lopezlink, a monthly publication of the Lopez Group of Companies

Giles Puno: Inspired to do good

President and COO Francis Giles PunoIt's hardly been a year since Francis Giles Puno was named president and COO of First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH), yet he’s actually been around for a long time.

“I’ve been working with the Group for 19 years. It’s always been exciting for me to work for the Group. I think we’re all working for a good group that imbibes the right values,” he says.

Puno took over from retiring FPH chief Elpidio Ibañez last October 1, 2015; but despite the long years and the challenges confronting him as top FPH honcho, Puno remains excited and enthusiastic about work.

“Why can’t I be excited if I’m in this environment? The challenge for me in my first year and moving forward is to make sure that people already working here (also) find it as exciting to come to work every day so they can say to their families and friends that this is the best place to work for. I have to make sure that everybody… is inspired to work for a company in the FPH Group.

“The nice thing is we can really offer a great career. If you look at the breadth of our businesses... the difference with other companies is that in our case [we have] the track record and the values. What we can do is to have more synergy with other companies in the Lopez Group, in particular ABSCBN. I love what ABS-CBN is doing because...you take a pulse of culture—the Filipino... It is nice if we can do something to synergize that,” Puno says.

Aside from his role in FPH, Puno is the president and COO of First Gen Corporation (since 2010), and also sits on the board of Rockwell Land, Energy Development Corporation, First Balfour Inc., First Philippine Electric Corporation and First Philippine Industrial Park. Before all these, he had worked with The Chase Manhattan Bank as vice president for its global power and environmental group based in Singapore.

Puno has a degree in business management from the Ateneo de Manila University and an MBA degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago, Illinois. Yet he credits his success largely to his parents.

“My dad was a successful executive for a multinational company. He started from the bottom and worked his way to the top. In a way, that’s the inspiration I draw from because for many people in the organization, they have to be willing to roll up their sleeves and work from the bottom, then work their way up,” he says.

Puno admits that FPH will have obstacles in its way, especially with the push for an energy shift amidst concerns regarding climate change and its repercussions.

“Moving towards a decarbonized world will require a significant and deliberate mind shift not only in our energy platform but in all our other businesses. It will require us to refine the strategies of our businesses. It will also bring about new opportunities that we can pursue as a point of differentiation in a highly commoditized world.”

However, he assures, the team is prepared to meet the challenges along the way.

“There have always been birth pains and difficulties. We’re in much better shape today to address hurdles. We will continue to face difficulties as a company. We need to make sure that we’re prepared for a difficult economic environment. If you look at power generation, there will be a need for power plants [that are] efficient. If you look at industrial parks, there will be a demand for factories for people who want to diversify. When we are facing challenges, we have people who are experienced in facing tough challenges. We can really draw from what we’ve learned from the past. We also have to make sure that there’s honesty in the organization because that’s part of our success.”

The new FPH president says he is extremely optimistic about the future. His message to LopezLink readers?

“There is great sense in achieving synergy across all Lopez Group member companies. While we may think the industries we operate in are so distinct and widely separate, a big picture view will likely show islands of opportunity which we can develop with cooperation, enthusiasm and excellence.”