FORCED to do much of his work at home with the enhanced community quarantine in effect in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces, Ronald Mascariñas, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. (BAVI) president and general manager, said that the setup is not much of an adjustment to him as he had been working from home on occasion even before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic rendered outside movement limited.
He, however, said the current situation has been a challenge to the poultry company as a group, forcing them to recalibrate their business approach and taking into account the lessons and opportunities the situation presents.
BusinessWorld reached out to Mr. Mascariñas online where he got to share his experience working from home (WFH) and how COVID-19 would affect their business moving forward.
The interview has been lightly edited.
HOW MUCH OF AN ADJUSTMENT IS WORKING FROM HOME FOR YOU?
WFH is not new to me. I normally go to the office only for meetings or to sign documents which is about three times a week. I find no sense going to the office [and] open my laptop when I can do exactly the same from home (in Laguna) without throwing away three hours of driving.
A MONTH OR SO INTO THE ECQ, WHAT ARE THE UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES YOU HAVE OBSERVED FROM DOING WFH IN RELATION TO WHAT BOUNTY AGRO VENTURES INC. WANTS TO ACHIEVE? ANY CHALLENGES YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED IN DOING SO (E.G. SLOW INTERNET CONNECTION, DIFFICULTY REACHING YOUR OFFICERS, ETC.?
Communication was never a problem. My management team is used to getting e-mails, Facebook messages or phone calls from me from home. Globe installed some type of aerial antenna in my house many years ago so signal for voice calls is very strong.
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MODE OF COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR PEOPLE (SKYPE, ZOOM, MESSENGER, E-MAIL, TEXT MESSAGE AND PHONE)?
In order of priority: 1. E-mail because I want communications organized in a folder; 2. Messenger; 3. Text message; 4. Phone
WHERE IS YOUR WFH OFFICE?
It is usually in the library but every now and then I do work at the patio.
HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY FOR WFH? WHAT TIME DO YOU START WORKING? DO YOU DRESS UP FOR IT? UNTIL WHAT TIME DO YOU USUALLY WORK FROM HOME?
I usually start at 8 a.m., take my precious 30-minutes nap, and work until 11 p.m.
DO YOU TAKE BREAKS WHILE AT IT? IF SO, WHAT DO YOU DO?
My usual break is reading and answering comments from my over one million followers on my (Facebook) page. While I have a full-time page admin answering the comments, I need to guide her on how to answer FAQs for every new post I make. This gives me a real-time update on the pulse of my market. I watch one or two episodes on Netflix before going to bed. On Netflix I like House of Cards, Race to the White House and Bolivar. You should watch them.
ANY MEMORABLE EVENTS WHILE WFH?
We discovered two new strong trade channels during the quarantine. I am excited that we will come out stronger after this.
One of the new channels are the rolling stores, which we will continue even after the quarantine and another one is expanding our product offering, carrying basic products from other companies as none of the major companies organized to bring their products close to the locked-out communities.
For the second one, products we have carried to date were from sister companies Holly Farms for pork products and Bounty Farms for table eggs. Virginia Foods for processed meat products like hotdogs. Gardenia bread. We’re still finalizing which cooking oil to carry.
We have also relaunched our fresh produce business which we shelved 10 years ago. Clear opportunity from agricultural produce rotting in the countryside because they do not have a way to bring it to the consumers. This industry is bigger than the poultry industry.
WHAT ARE THE KEY POINTS YOU USUALLY TACKLE WHEN WFH? IS IT ANY DIFFERENT WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR REGULAR OFFICE IN ORTIGAS?
Monitoring and reinforcing execution of the new trade channels. Management direction is very different since our traditional trade channels have been shut off by the quarantine restrictions. Our farms continue to produce the usual volume of chicken and we need to quickly find new markets for that.
APART FROM BAVI’S REGULAR BUSINESS, CHOOKS-TO-GO IN PARTICULAR, YOU ALSO ARE INVOLVED IN OTHER CONCERNS AS WELL, AMONG WHICH ARE 3X3 BASKETBALL AND THE MAHARLIKA PREMIER BASKETBALL LEAGUE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THINGS SO EVERYTHING WILL BE COVERED?
I rely on my key personnel for execution. Once we agree on what needs to be done, I do not want them to bother me with day-to-day concerns. They message or call me only if it is urgent, otherwise they update me weekly by e-mail.
WITH HOW THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW, WFH WILL BE PART OF THE “NEW NORMAL” FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE AT LEAST, HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR IT? IS IT BAVI READY FOR IT?
From Day One of the ECQ announcement, my stance was for a worst-case scenario that this will last up to the end of the year. While we lost close to 50% of sales from our traditional trade channels in the first week of ECQ, we are improving every week and are behind by just a little over 10%.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AMID COVID-19 AND ECQ AND MOVING FORWARD?
We cannot just wait and watch until this is over. If we do, there might be no business left after the ECQ. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo