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Philippine Daily Inquirer: More than just CEOs, communicators, too: ‘Shell Tipid Tips’

By: Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Published: Oct 13, 2006

ICONIC EXECUTIVE officers such as Apple Computers Steve Jobs, General Electrics Jack Welch, Microsofts Bill Gates and Chryslers Lee Iacocca have another thing in common aside from being geniuses at marketing, management and finance.

They were all great communicators.

CEOs like them understood that they are also being paid to effectively convey to the consumers, government regulators, stockholders and the general public what their corporation is doing and how they are doing it.

Informing the public about what their companies stand for is not something they delegate fully to their direct commands. Instead, they take the front line position knowing that for many people, they are the face of their corporation.

The Philippines has its share of CEOs who share writer James Humes belief that the art of communication is the language of leadership.

Two of them are Jose P. De Jesus, president and CEO of Manila North Tollways Corp., which operates the North Luzon Expressway and Edgar O. Chua, country chair of the Shell companies in the Philippines.

Tollway program

Nobody wants to hear about toll rates going up, but that was exactly what De Jesus had to tell his public when the new and improved North Luzon Expressway opened to the public in February of 2005.

To make the public understand and accept the fact that rates will definitely go up by as much as 500 percent, he came up with a Toll Rate Management Plan of which an Integrated Communication Program was a major component.

That program went into effect months before actual opening and he and his team took the time to dialog with civil society, lenders, the President and her Cabinet members and even media on the reasons behind the sudden jump in the toll rates and the benefits of having a modern tollway.

De Jesus personally talked to leaders of local government units affected by the new tollway, development leaders who were suspicious of big business, with motorists who are expected to feel the shock of paying increased toll fees and even the president herself, to impress on her the importance of the tollway.

He also presided over meetings with in-house and outsourced managerial and technical talents who contributed to the implementation of the communication plan.

The team included executives and experts in public relations, advertising, advocacy management, community relations and government relations.

The final test came on Feb. 10, 2005 when the tollway was formally opened with nary an incident. Although there were complaints on the high toll rate, the motorists eventually saw that their money went to a tollway that was much better than what it replaced.

Clean and green neighbor

Oil companies are the favorite whipping boys of many cause-oriented groups because they are portrayed as evil companies that indiscriminately jack up petroleum prices at the pump and polluters of the environment.

Shell country chair Edgar O. Chua knows this burden facing the oil companies, which is why he has taken it upon himself to play pivotal roles in implementing communication activities that convey Shells principles of environmental protection and being a responsible corporation.

Chua, for instance, heads the health cluster of the Business and Millennium Development Goals Initiative of the countrys business community.

He also leads the campaign to continuously improve in health, safety and environment not just within Shell but in the greater business community.

Recognizing the role of the company in the energy crisis, Chua prioritized the implementation of the energy conservation campaign through Shell Tipid Tips.

He also shares his passion and know-how to the private sector as chair of the Philippine Business for the Environment and co-chair of the environmental committee of the Management Association of the Philippines.

Chua believes that these programs present opportunities for Shell to promote its principles, core values and commitments of the Shell group to its general business principles, particularly to sustainable development.

One measure of success of the communication program is the growing number of Shell employees who volunteer their time and expertise to the companys corporate social responsibility and social development projects.

Excel awards

Chua and De Jesus are just two of a growing number of CEOs who were given the Award of Excellence by the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines during its CEO Excel or Communication Excellence in Organization Awards.

Started just last year, the awards recognize top-level managers whose communication skills helped achieve business and stakeholder objectives.

Other recipients include Unilever Philippines CEO Howard Belton, Johnson and Johnson president Grace del Rosario-Castano and National Transmission Co. president Allan Ortiz. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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