By Marga Salvador on April 4, 2016
When most people hear the term “BPO”, they imagine call centres and an endless stream of small cubicles with people wearing headsets, taking customer service calls, and fighting a lack of sleep. With the BPO haystack that is the Philippines, it’s a challenge to not clump the industry together and assume they’re all the same but we found a golden needle in that same haystack.
Meet Curo Teknika
The name is probably not one that you’ve heard before, or understand for that matter. “Curo” is Latin for manage or care and “teknika” loosely translates to technology in Slavic. We know what you’re thinking, “okay, they’re just another call center.” You are right and wrong about that. If you look at their website, you will find that “Curo Teknika is an established ePLDT company focused on helping diverse industries and sectors take care of critical challenges through I.T. Support and Business Process Management.”
What you can’t find on their website, however, are the upbeat agents and kooky jokes that they crack every two minutes. You won’t see the tight-knit family that the company has created but they let us in for an afternoon. Behind the glossy glass doors of their office in Ortigas, you will be welcomed by bursts of slate and gold, the company colors, and an aura that makes you want to know more about this company and the people behind it. So I did.
“I’m excited on Sundays because I get to go to work the next day.”
People assume that working at a BPO means long hours with repetitive work. The agents at Curo Teknika will beg to differ. “It’s like going to school. You do what your job requires of you but you also love what you’re doing,” says Ian Cruz who works in Telesales. Curo Teknika seems to have mastered a good working culture and found the key to keeping their employees happy and motivated. Badj Bajado, who is a Talent Acquisition Specialist, had an interesting perspective on things, “Play and work go hand in hand here. We’re like a company with pets (except they don’t actually have pets). You have to release your stress by ‘playing’... We have an open door culture. Not just literally because you can really talk to anyone about anything. Your decisions matters here.”
When I asked them what three words they would use to describe Curo Teknika’s culture, I got training ground, balance, and posible. This was Ian’s first corporate job and learning the ropes was made enjoyable and insightful here. And it seems like Curo Teknika has been bringing up their employees with this kind of experience even before they were a company.
Ernest Alvendia joined Curo Teknika back in 2011, when it was still known as iPlus, and he’s always felt at home there. There was no difficult adjusting and the company that has been his career trove for five years is the same one that challenges him to be better everyday.
“Nakukuha talaga namin,” Mariel said of work-life balance. In fact, they’ve meshed the two together. The team works together and they go out together too. Ernest once had to go on a four day field support job—from Pampanga to Zambales to Bataan—he and his supervisor got in a van and answered client tickets. It was the ultimate bonding experience for them, working and living together for 96 hours. “We decided not to check in a hotel. Nag-alternate kami ng roles. Parang hindi masala per actually mas nag-enjoy kami sa setup namin.”
As for posible, it’s not only a viewpoint on what is achievable at Curo Teknika but an entire acronym that sums up the culture better than I could hope to. Pride, <3 (puso), Service with a Smile, Innovation, Bilis, Lakas, Excellence. No one mentioned “fun” but based on my observations, that was already a given. BPO work is not glamorous or typically ascribed to as fun but because of the culture at Curo Teknika, they have that in the bag.
What does a typical day at Curo Teknika look like?
“Maingay,” says Mariel Bagotsolon who works with Badj in Talent Acquisition, “if we’re not noisy, there’s something wrong.” But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have game faces when push comes to shove. One of the biggest challenges that Mariel has faced was a hiring quota of 600 agents for local accounts between November to December. Now, that’s hustling. “Ian agreed with the free to talk dynamic of Curo Teknika, but notes that when they have to reach certain quotas, the chatter is minimized and they get to work. If that’s not a good balance of work ethic, then I don’t know what is.
Mentorship at its finest
Curo Teknika has an ongoing intent to improve their employees both professionally and personally. Ian has been with the company for a year now and he’s had two mentors teach him invaluable lessons. “They pushed me to become better. Even outside of work, he’s telling me to improve more.” His previous trainer would tell him, “Don’t look at the work. Look at how you will love what you’re doing and the experience you will gain.”
Even the ladies from Talent Acquisition, who agents look up to, found a mentor here. They had nothing but reverent words to say of their manager, Rency Herrero. “She’s the protector of the team and is with you through thick and thin. If you need love, reprimands, commendations—anything— she will give it to you.”
Only at Curo Teknika
It’s hard to completely understand where the employees at Curo Teknika draw their glowing energy from but I have a good guess. Not only do they make a living from Curo Teknika, but they make memories there too. Ernest calls these their “anti burn out activities”. “For example, instead of a company outing, the team went out and celebrated one summer in a club… Because of this, naging close ako sa ibang mga departments.” They diversify their definitions of recreation too. Curo Teknika has hosted employee basketball games, bowling sessions and the like. Working hard and playing hard at its finest.
The company also has a six month long fest where 8 teams (1 team = 2 departments) compete in different sports and weekly challenges. The scoreboards and team posters are plastered on the inner office walls and it’s quite the sight. The competition is an ongoing company bonding experience that culminates at the Christmas party every year. I don’t work there but even I began to look forward to it.
Those whom I had the pleasure to meet were all in agreement that the enjoyment and the fun while working there was like no other. What can you get at Curo Teknika that you won’t find in any other company in the industry? “Our team,” said Mariel. They’re a workforce but also a family. “When it comes to the BPO industry, that’s hard to have so swerte kami to have the team, the bosses, and the managers,” Badj added. “There’s a lot of experiences to be had, opportunities to be taken, and even promotions to be given,” said Ian. I wouldn’t call what they have a work-life balance because they’ve found a way to harmonize the two completely.
What’s the best thing about working here? “The environment and the people. I don’t see this as a general working place. This is my second home. Pamilya kami sa loob,” were the sentiments of Ernest, one of Curo Teknika’s long standing team members. Badj wrapped up the interview perfectly. “This is the first company that I work 24/7 but I’m more than happy to do it.”
That, dear readers, is Curo Teknika for you.