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Promoting an employee empowered environment

Adrian M. Reodique | Oct. 5, 2016
Francisco Castillo, CIO of Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad), talks about his leadership style, and shares words of wisdom to upcoming IT leaders.

Francisco Castillo, CIO of Maynilad Water Services, Inc. Photo by: Adrian M. Reodique 

With more than 25 years of experience in the IT industry, Francisco Castillo believes employee empowerment is a critical factor to drive a successful digital project.

Francisco, or Kiko to his colleagues, is the CIO of Maynilad in the Philippines. He joined the company in 2011 and leads both the IT, and Automation and Instrumentation teams.

As the CIO, he spearheads the convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT) of Maynilad to allow faster access to operation information. Even with a lean team of nine employees for IT and 17 for automation, the teams are able to handle more than 50 projects running at the same time. He noted the key to that is having a good work process and empowering employees. "Once you have a good process, things tend to run on their own because everybody's aware as to what they have to do, and everybody's aware what the rules are."

Besides that, the organisation has outsourced their daily IT operations and contracted projects to vendors. "So all I need are project managers handling all the different contracts with the vendors and the key people to set strategy, direction and governance. Actual execution can be outsourced and contracted," he said.

Since it is challenging to be on top of all tasks, Kiko gives his employees the freedom to decide on some areas of their projects, as long as they are accountable for the results. "What is really non-negotiable is policy and process. I always [tell my employees] that if there's a policy and a process, don't do a workaround. If the policy is incorrect, you need to raise it so that we can review it," said Kiko.

Employees must also adhere to the set project guidelines which specify the level of decisions they can make.

The guideline is also regularly reviewed to keep the IT organisation abreast with technological innovations and tailor it according to the company's needs. To do so, he meets with project managers to discuss the challenges they have encountered in past projects, brainstorm ideas on how to avoid facing the same issues, and modify a new set of guidelines.

In addition, Kiko underscored the importance of having an open communication between the IT leader and staff in an employee empowerment initiative. This allows them to exchange ideas and maximise every employee's talents and skills to contribute to the organisation.

For instance, when an issue arises, Kiko said he will allow the employees to think of a solution before collaboratively analysing if it can be applied. "I would rather [the employee] think [of the fix] because I believe they have the capability to suggest how we can get out of this issue or obstacle. Thereafter, we will debate about it. It's better if it comes [from the employee instead of always relying on] the guy on top."


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