Musings on legacies and leadership in PH advertising from DDB Group chairman Gil Chua

Some of the largest companies in the world have emerged from circumstances most people don’t know about or would even expect. Many CEOs have built their business through what turned out to be some inspiring motivation.

Our yearly catch-up with visionary leader, DDB Group Philippines Chairman and CEO, Gil Chua, where we caught him in Baguio at the MSAP’s 2017 Media Congress, yielded some answers to questions we’ve been dying to ask all year.

Why is it important to look back to one’s life? Or is it still necessary to look back at one’s life?

“One time per week, I try to reflect on what I’ve accomplished, the status of my businesses, my relationships with my partners and clients, and whether I feel I’m providing value. I assess my goals to make sure they fit within the plan I have put together.

I have deep faith in God and I owe my success to Him and His blessings. I take time to pray and be grateful for all He has given me. I enjoy the moment, and do all the things necessary to get what I want and need to do. I always try to make meaningful and lasting connections.

But I don’t look back too long. I learned that when I stop too long to reflect and start praising myself, I fall into complacency. Complacency stunts growth both intellectually and spiritually and wars against what I aim to accomplish. Complacency is the state of mind that can destroy ambition and knock us down.”

What are you most proud of as a man of 60?

“Having my children. They are and forever will be, the better version of myself. They are not me, so I know I cannot control their lives in any way, but they are with me, as my partners in business, my confidants, my inspiration, my source of fun, and my legacy. I am always grateful to God for blessing me with them, to share my life.”

What is the most challenging experience in your 40 years in the industry?

“CEOs and leaders face many challenges and it is our job to provide solutions, right? People are not born with qualities like effective leadership and innovation. These can only be learned and earned through hard work and diligence. Sometimes, critical failures and overwhelming odds can easily break anyone and make them lose sight of our aspirations. But CEOs do not have this luxury. We have to be the role models and consistently demonstrate the conduct that will make a company productive and profitable.

My biggest challenge has been succession. Why? Because the moment we get them trained to the caliber we want, they get poached. And then there’s no room for growth for my leaders, because they can’t go anywhere without a successor. But we’re working on it.”

What is your most inspiring experience? How did it inspire you?

A few years back, I was talking to a couple who I worked with. The husband was overseas, to get better pay, leaving his kids and family behind. I thought, “another latchkey child growing up with daddy issues…” but this is a perpetual problem in our country.

So I promised myself to be part of the solution. One day, when I am in the position to help, I will provide job opportunities to Filipinos so they don’t have to leave their families behind. It is important for any child to have a parent with them growing up. Society will improve because the values get passed on.

We started Field Outsource Asia in 2011 with 10 key champions. Today, it is 3,000 strong and with a nationwide reach. We hire and provide jobs from their respective provinces, so they always have their families nearby and they don’t have to travel far. My challenge for myself before I retire, is to provide 50,000 jobs for Filipinos.”

What is the secret to your success?

“Making time for myself. Self-reflection. Prayer gives me self-knowledge and self-awareness to align my values, goals, what I stand for, and what matters most to me. For a leader, this is crucial: If I don’t know myself, I cannot lead myself, and if I can’t lead myself, I cannot possibly lead others. I also practice consistency. If you cannot replicate success then you fail making more leaders and reaching our goals to provide job opportunities.

All of us know that we are doing great things, that we are touching a lot of people, and that what we are doing is something bigger than ourselves. I am proud that my partners have embraced this through the work they do with our clients and through DDB Cares.”

Future of the business. Predictions.

“Work is such an important part of what I do in life. I’m lucky to see the transformation of the advertising space. When I was starting, it took a week to make one print ad. One month to make a good film commercial. Announcer on radio board was the fastest way to get an urgent message out to consumers.

Then came video and digital.

My smart phone is my computer now! I can now respond right away. Quick and nimble has always been the mode of DDB. With the help of technology we continue to be so.

Predicting the future is not easy. But, our core values will remain as our guideposts in our journey to tomorrow.

Because of all the technology available, advertising of the future will have these backbones — creativity, consistency with integrity.

I always remind members of the DDB family that, what got us here, won’t take us there.

So embrace change.

But never forget that effective creativity, unparalleled integrity and consistent great service are keys to the success of any business.”

Gil Chua celebrates his 60th birthday And 40 years in the industry.