SM Retail recently celebrated its year-end party honoring the loyalty and contributions of its long-term employees. It has become a simple, but meaningful annual tradition for SM Retail to pay tribute to those who have grown and stayed with the company through the years.
Held at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia Complex, the event paid tribute to SM Retail
employees who have been with the company for 40 years, 35 years, 30 years, 25 years, 20 years, 15 years, 10
years and five years. Considered as the heart and soul of a service-oriented company like SM Retail, these
employees were at front and center of the celebration.
SM started as a small enterprise sixty years ago in downtown Manila and grew to become one of the major
employers in the country, providing jobs and opportunities to communities where it is present. To date it has more than 100,000 employees across its diverse business portfolio from retail, banking, and property
The event was a perfect opportunity for the pioneers and trailblazers to look back to their years of service when SM was just starting as a small company and celebrate their milestones now that SM is one of the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines. Here are some of the many stories of SM Retail employees who have grown and built their careers with the company.
40 years with SM
from Supplies Officer of The SM Store to Senior Vice President and Business Unit Head of SM Retail Warehouse and Development Company
One of the pioneers who have grown their career with SM Retail is Rose Siaco. Having worked with the company since 1978, she is considered as one of the longest-tenured employees in SM Retail.
Feeling that most of the procedures she was doing as a registered medical technologist was already automated, Siaco wanted to sink her teeth into another challenge. She entered SM as a supplies officer, and was later tasked by the late SM Founder Mr. Henry Sy Sr. to become acting warehouse manager. She was initially hesitant to accept the offer, worried that she was entering a “man’s world.” But she said she took it because of the support of Mr. Sy.
“He told me that I did not need to worry because he would guide and provide me all the important knowledge that I needed to know. With the support of SM, I attended seminars and conferences here and abroad to be fully equipped for the position,” said Siaco, who is now the company’s Senior Vice President for Warehouse Management.
Siaco emerged as one of the many female executives in SM Retail, cementing the fact that it is an equal-opportunity employer, which selects candidates for employment or promotion based on merit, and not their gender, race or creed.
Growing with SM
40 years with SM
from gift-wrapping personnel to Warehouse Manager of The SM Store
Jun Nogales can be considered an SM lifer. He had just finished a nautical course in 1979 and was preparing a life as a seafarer. But when he chanced upon a job interview for SM, he realized he could provide for his family without going abroad. He started as gift wrapping personnel, and the rest was history.
It was at SM where he got his first regular post. Nogales added that several newspapers would feature some of their designs, as gift wrapping the shoppers’ purchases back then was just a new concept.
From there, he moved to the store’s check-out counter, and also worked as a cashier and then as a verifier of international carts. He, however, spent the longest time at the warehouse, where he was tasked to check stocking procedures in branches. Now, Nogales serves as a Warehouse Manager. He said he is grateful for all the opportunities that came his way at SM.
“While my job is mostly physical work, I have also learned to use computers and learned about new systems. You just have to be receptive and open to these things. Your progress may be slow, but still, you are moving forward,” Nogales said.
With the help of various trainings and employee engagement activities, SM Retail ensures that their employees will be fully prepared as they take on new roles.
Mentorship from pioneers
40 years with SM
from Checker to Warehouse Coordinating Manager of The SM Store
Many of the long-serving employees at SM Retail have had the opportunity to work closely with the Sy family. This has given them the chance to learn from some of the most respected names in the retail industry.
One of them is Willy Luy, who started his journey at SM in 1975. Luy did not finish his formal college education, but with the trust and mentorship given to him by Mr. Sy, has developed into a trusted warehouse coordinating manager.
“The biggest lessons Tatang (Mr. Sy) taught me were to use my common sense, be flexible and to love my job, and I’ll be fine,” Luy said. “The Sy family did not mind if their employees committed mistakes, because they can always learn from them.
Further ensuring that employees continue to learn and are updated on industry and business practices, SM maintains a healthy mix of seasonedveterans and promising junior executives. The result is a mentor-mentee relationship that breeds more business leaders in the future.
10 years with SM
shifted from banking industry to the world of retail
From being a banking executive, Sid Bada made the shift to the world of retail, a challenge and opportunity that allowed him to further broaden his knowledge in the area of consumer finance.
“I believe my group’s role in SM is bigger than my previous employment since we impact directly our customers. It’s either you delight them or you lose them in every purchase they make,” said Bada, who has been with SM for 11 years now.
Bada is the Vice President of the Credit Management Division which is in charge of installing card terminals in various SM Retail stores, linking SM Retail for marketing partnerships with banks and making sure that card and mobile financial transactions are paid on time.
This, he said, encouraged him to expand his network, build better relationships and continue learning so that he and his team can meet the demands of consumers.
“It’s non-stop learning for me and my group since payments have evolved and will continue to evolve as we see new payment schemes and facilities in the market. The competition is also catching up, thus making our role very exciting and challenging at the same time. We have to be able to adapt quickly,” Bada said.
Realizing one’s potential
10 years with SM
from Executive Assistant to Senior Manager for Vendor Portal of SM Retail
Having previously worked in real estate, shipping and BPO companies, Apple Potente’s entry in SM was her first foray in the world of retail. From 2009 to 2017, she served as the executive assistant of SM Retail Chairwoman Tessie Sy-Coson.
During that time, she said she picked up a lot of lessons from Mrs. Coson, ranging from business savvy to practical life lessons. For most of her professional career, Potente was an executive assistant; and so, she took it as a challenge and as a sign that her employer saw her potential when Mrs. Coson decided to promote her to a more technical role as senior manager of the Vendor Portal group.
“She told me that it was time for me to grow, and embrace new technologies. At first, the changes really fazed me, but I did not want to give up because I also wanted to repay her trust,” Potente said.
For people with potential and determination, SM, with its various companies, is a vast field they can explore for different opportunities and challenge themselves to take on different tasks while developing their skills.
Not just jobs, but stable jobs
The stability of the company’s performance and continuous expansions one of the reasons why SM Retail is able to provide employment opportunities in every location where it is present and career growth for its current employees.
This is very much the case for Nogales, “I built my life here. It was here where I met my wife; she used to work as a cashier. Because of our jobs at SM, we were able to provide for our family and send our children to school,” Nogales said.
After graduation, his eldest daughter worked as a merchandiser for The SM Store’s accessories group.
“I convinced my daughter to also work at SM because, aside from practicality reasons, I knew that SM was a good and stable company,” Nogales said.
For Potente, a single mother, her job in SM has allowed her to support the needs of her daughter.
“Because of my work here, I am able to send my daughter to an exclusive school. Your hard work really goes a long way,” Potente said.
SM employees and their qualified dependents benefit from the diverse portfolio of the conglomerate as they gain access to financial services, education, housing and social services.
As SM Retail continues to grow, it has also expanded its roster to include not only local brands, but also international names, providing the Filipino shopper a multitude of options, and prospective employees different career paths aside from the traditional retail posts. They can now explore options in e-commerce, analytics, supply chain, fashion merchandising, marketing and more.