From The 50: JP Orbeta of Ayala Corporation

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Ayala Corporation is a well-known conglomerate with its presence known in multiple industries across the nation, including banking, real estate, telecommunications, water, power, industrial technologies, infrastructure, and healthcare industries, among others. However, Orbeta pointed out that there was no sense of unity or belongingness among the employees other than at the business unit they were employed by.

In Orbeta’s words, Ayala Corporation functioned like a “federation of states,” with each company being its own state, given the different shareholders and independent governance structures. “I think the first thing we, as HR, really needed to do is drive home the fact that we are part of a broader community of companies, and we’re not just in our little state, so to speak,” he said.

When he was first approached by the owners of Ayala Corporation, he was committed to creating new frameworks and roadmaps for a more unified HR within the conglomerate.  “At first, my agenda was only how to build that broader HR community really as a group,” Orbeta said. “Then I moved from thinking not just about HR, but the whole Ayala.” 

Orbeta elevated his roadmap to the CEO and HR leaders of Ayala’s different companies, working with them to create systems that would be uniform and consistent across the board. Once plans were finalized, Orbeta and the CHROs of Ayala’s companies came together and formed the HR Council to oversee the plans for unification the different leaders agreed on.

The main challenge here was figuring out which things to keep uniform for all, and which things would remain different. As much as Orbeta aimed for consistency across all the companies, the different industries of each company had different standards; to make sure their companies succeeded in their respective industries, they had to keep some things unique, such as compensation and benefits. “Everybody else is actually driven by their own market practice, market forces,” he said.

One of the first major projects Orbeta came up with along with the HR Council was the HR Shared Services Center. The idea for the HR Shared Services Center came to him when Orbeta learned of how there were different payroll platforms for each industry Ayala was involved in.

“I thought, why can’t we build one common payroll platform for HR and then create a shared service for the group?” Orbeta said.

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