By Edd K. Usman
BAGUIO CITY – Just how important is the City of Pines to US-based BPO firm Sitel? Well, out of the 13 hubs that it operates in the country, four are located in the city.
In fact, it formally opened its latest state-of-the-art at the mountaintop city on Friday, March 24, with local government executives joining the “milestone”.
The Sitel facility is expected to provide around 800 new jobs to Baguio residents and adjoining provinces.
Craig Reines, chief operating officer of Sitel Philippines, said his company was only giving back to the community as the region has provided strong support to Sitel.
“We are delighted to open the Sitel SM Cyber site, our fourth in the City of Pines. Baguio was a natural choice because it has been so good to us for last 12 years, and the region still has growth potential,” Reines said.
He added: “It is always a pleasure to come to work here with this passionate and energetic people. They all make my job so satisfying and our collective work very enjoyable. This family of men and women demonstrate daily the true spirit of what we call our Sitel ‘Barkada’,” the Sitel executive said.
Among the dignitaries at the event were director-general Charito “Ching” Plaza of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), Baguio City representative Mark Go, Mayor Mauricio Domogan, and Peter Wallace of the Wallace Business Forum (WBF).
Plaza cited Sitel for its contributions in the growth of the Philippines BPO industry as she bared plans to attract more foreign investments to the country.
Michael dela Peña, vice president of operations for Northern Luzon of Sitel Philippines, said company has various engagements with the local the community.
He said the firm has been participating in the city’s famous Panagbenga Festival — even garnering honors in the Float Competition in the last two years. The company has also adopted an orphanage, provided supplies to schools, participated in fitness activities, and conducted fun runs.
“We are elated to increase our investment in a city that has shown steady growth and progress. From just 35 employees in 2004, we have steadily increased to over 4,000 employees in Baguio, servicing 13 accounts,” he said.
Dela Peña said BPO firm’s expansion in the city continues to make Sitel the top private employer in the region.
Cher Retirado, Sitel Philippines director and project management officer for Asia Pacific, cited the company’s goal in upgrading its facilities. “We wanted to create a best in-class facility and a workspace that our employees can call their second home,” she said.
Maridel Galang, talent acquisition manager of Sitel Philippines, told journalists that Sitel’s four facilities in Baguio have around 5,000 employees, with the Baguio Cyber site accounting for 1,200.
The new Sitel SM Cyber site is said to be the “most modern” BPO facility in the Baguio City. It houses the latest innovations in workspace technology, aesthetic design and one-of-a-kind amenities, such as the entertainment center with 18-hole indoor golf course, pool tables, and football and basketball facilities.
The inauguration of the new site also showed Sitel sustaining its growth trajectory in the country. Since putting up its first shop, Sitel has registered steady growth for 16 years to date.
“The business-friendly climate and its pool of highly skilled talent with a strong customer orientation have enabled Sitel to grow and expand at a steady clip,” the company said.
Reines said that as Sitel continues to expand around the world, the Philippines has become the most important geography in the company’s growth strategy. The executive said that in the last 18 months, Sitel has added seat capacity and jobs in the cities of Pasig, Quezon, and Mandaluyong.
“But we are most proud of the significant new capacity investments in new provincial centers such as Tarlac and Palawan along with this beautiful new fourth facility in Baguio,” Reines said.
He recalled that Sitel was the first to establish facilities outside the National Capital Region (NCR) among BPO firms.
“We are excited to continue the story of Sitel in Baguio — create more jobs, spur localized economic development, and continue giving back to the community by partnering with government and nonprofit organizations in this region,” he said.
Sitel first set shop in the year 2000 at Ortigas Center in Pasig City. From there, it started making good business, embarked on an expansion, and opening a center in Baguio in 2004.
Across the globe, Sitel has over 75,000 associates working in 146 facilities answering clients’ calls and needs in 48 different tongues scattered in 145 countries. It has over 400 client companies.