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How the CEO of Globe Helped Start the Philippine Call Center Industry

By Paul Rivera on January 5, 2015

When you hear the name Ernest Cu, you almost always think of Globe and his role as its visible CEO. Since taking over the top position in 2009, Ernest has steered Globe to record high profits, subscribers and at the forefront of mobile innovation.

In fact, Ernest Cu was the one who pitched Mark Zuckerberg on the idea of offering Facebook for free to Globe users and the Philippines was the first country this initiative was launched in.

But Ernest Cu wasn’t always the successful and public face CEO of Globe Telecom.

Ernest Cu first made a name for himself in the Philippine BPO call center industry. 15 years ago when Ernest started in the industry, it employed fewer than 10,000 people. Today, over 1,000,000 Filipinos work in this industry, which has not only made the Philippines a global leader in call center work, but a core part of the global innovation economy where Silicon Valley startups like Uber and ZenDesk are taking advantage of the local talent.

Ernest started in the BPO industry as a founder of SPi, a pioneering data entry company in the late 1990s, which today employs over 18,000 people in the Philippines.

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After seeing a demand for call center work from American companies, he co-founded one of the first call centers in the Philippines, eTelecare, which later went to IPO in New York. eTelecare eventually became Stream, which was earlier this year acquired by Convergys. Today, Convergys employs nearly 60,000 people across over a dozen sites throughout the Philippines.

While many people inaccurately claim that working in a call center is often the end of your career, for Ernest it was the beginning. And more importantly, many of the people who started as agents and managers for eTelecare and SPi have all matured and grown in their careers as the industry has grown by leaps and bounds.

This industry isn’t going away - in fact, the demand continues to outstrip supply as the work done in the Philippines transforms from doing it the cheapest, to doing it the best.

If Ernest Cu can make a name from himself in the call center industry, why couldn’t you?