DDB Group PHL execs share leadership lessons learned from Chairman & CEO Gil Chua

By Anna Chua-Norbert

The ultimate test of a great leader is not just seen on how successful his business has become, but on how his people have grown with him. As the saying goes, true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.

DDB Group Philippines Chairman and CEO Gil Chua’s illustrious career in advertising and marketing spans four decades, of which 30 years were spent growing DDB to become one of the largest integrated marketing communications groups in the country today. In the process, Chua has molded endless leaders – a pool of bright and talented executives who have helped lead the marketing communications group to success year after year.

As a way to celebrate Chua’s birthday this September, these leaders who have worked with Chua, or GGC as he is fondly called, share their most profound learning from the man they regard as their coach, mentor, cheerleader, and inspiration. Read on to know more about these lessons.

Faith in God and Humanity. “Any business needs ethics. It needs integrity. It needs a commitment to excellence. It needs a purpose greater than profit (and it also needs a solid profit to serve that greater purpose). GGC’s faith has been forged through challenges and I have witnessed firsthand how he has held on to the power of prayers to set us through many obstacles, His faith in God and in his people has been instrumental to the success we enjoy today.” – DDB Group Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer Judd B. Balayan

Ability to Embrace Change. “For GGC, change coincides with growth and he is relentless in driving both, for himself and his people. GGC isn’t the type to give lip service, he walks the talk and holds your hand through the transformation. You feel his presence and support. Which makes everyone look forward to change.” – Optimax General Manager Ela Federigan-Chua

Collaborative and positive attitude. “GGC sees the brighter side of things, welcomes feedback with so much humility. He asks questions, invites input and opens the team to challenge his ideas. This facilitates critical thinking and ultimately an empowered team that can think on their own.” – DDB Group Chief Revenue Officer John Lucas

Compassion towards employees. “Putting people first is a strategic business philosophy backed by his set of actions that prioritize the people, even if it means he has made personal sacrifices. Especially in 2020 where his mandate was to Keep Our People Safe, we all worked hard to ensure no one lost their job, or had to cut their pay, and everyone felt safe. When people feel valued and cared for, they do their work with strong motivation, a deep sense of meaning, and great engagement.” – DDB MNL Managing Director Vina Henson.

Focus Goals and Vision. “Employees, clients, and investors want to associate with organizations that serve a larger purpose than may be expressed in their mission statement. They want to be associated with organizations that live their values and have a commitment to societal responsibilities, environmental stewardship, and equity and inclusivity. GGC long before knew the power of creativity in shaping the hearts and minds of people. Compassion and generosity provide the perspective to his creative reach.” – Touch XDA Chairman Antonio R. Samson

His energy to motivate and inspire. “In this time of ‘great resignation’, in order to gain loyalty and retention, leaders must provide a values-based environment with less hierarchy; a hybrid, blended, partially remote and partially non-employee workforce; and engagement that respects workforce members’ differing needs. We have direct channel to speak to our execom in our viber chat for any employee who simply would like to inquire or chat with them. We have a Culture Hub that provides holistic care for our people. None of these things will be possible if not for GGC.” – DDB PHL Managing Partner Paolo Arevalo

His instinct for opportunity. GGC always says “Ang hindi sumasali, hindi nananalo.” This encapsulates how he always sees opportunities in everything whether in good times or in times of crisis. And how he always challenges you to go out of your comfort zone and be brave enough to seize those opportunities. I tried and joined so many things I never thought I would because of GGC’s challenge from international competitions to crisis management. I have grown so much because of it. And so have many others who answered his challenge. – Ripple8 Managing Director Bobby Vito

His sense of gratitude. “Being grateful and giving back, GGC has audacious dream to provide job opportunities for 10,000 Filipinos before he retires. This is his way of giving back to the country that gave him so much. GGC never fails to thank his people and the people who opened doors and gave him breaks, invested time in mentoring him and believing in him. His gratitude to others makes him the most endearing humble person we all aspire to be” – Agile Intelligence Managing Director Chewy Chua

His building trusting relationship with people. “The great dependence on people across an organization’s sphere of interactions will only succeed if there is a great sense of trust and a building of truly trusting relationships. Now, more than ever before, a systems perspective deals not only with processes, but with people, organizations, and processes. I look forward to another year working alongside GGC, setting benchmarks with ever-evolving insights on the road to performance excellence!” – Touch XDA Managing Partner Dyan Em-Rosal

His belief that success is inclusive. “Facing the ladder to success, we must lift others up while we climb. Success is not success if it is not sustainable and you cannot sustain success if you are alone. You need a team with you, and you need to be with your team. This is the best way GGC believes we can improve the lives of the Filipinos.” – Tribal Worldwide Philippines Managing Director Diane Chua.

When practiced and applied to your business and work life, these time-tested lessons from the beloved Chairman and CEO of DDB Group Philippines Gil Chua will lead to a happy and fulfilling life.