At Salesforce, Nichola Palmer works with customers to bring their stories of innovation and transformation to life. In this new series featuring Trailblazers who are Salesforce customers, Nichola introduces Francisco N. Collantes Jr. (Cookie) from Meralco, the Philippines’ biggest energy company. Cookie is a natural and dynamic project manager, with a passion for quality customer service.
Francisco N. Collantes Jr. (Cookie) beams with enthusiasm for his most recent role, and well deserved promotion, as Head of Customer Interaction Management with the Philippines’ power utility giant, Meralco. Since graduating with a degree in Business Management fifteen years ago from Ateneo de Manila University, Cookie has had an action-packed career full of hands-on experience and a few interesting twists and turns along the way.
Cookie’s interest in business was initially broad, but his career motivation has always been clear. “Delivering exceptional customer satisfaction and improving the quality of everyday life through our products and services has always motivated me,” he says.
“I’m not a tech guy. I’m not even a programmer!” Cookie says. But in his first role with Meralco as a Business Analyst, he gained an appreciation for data and programming. He recognised that clever use of data made an impact on both customer satisfaction and business results. And as proof that he was putting his new knowledge to good use, Cookie moved into a more senior role as Relationship Manager.
“I managed relationships with some of our key channel partner accounts, and trained in project management,” says Cookie. “This was where I really began to understand data modelling and technical architecture. It was also where I came to know Salesforce.”
The billing system Meralco worked with five years ago was also its CRM system. The CIO at the time decided that a cloud-based CRM platform, rather than the existing on-premise system, would help better understand and service customers.
“It was an all-hands-on-deck digital transformation for us,” says Cookie, “I led the pilot project implementation as we moved from on-premise to a cloud CRM solution.”
From there, with additional training, Cookie transitioned into a critical Project Management role. “The move to project management became a natural fit for me,” he says. Cookie’s innate ability to lead teams and projects through to completion was recognised by his leaders and, as a Project Manager, he was able to deliver results right to the frontline of customer service – a powerful motivator for him.
Cookie says he couldn’t be more pleased with the decision to upgrade the CRM. “Salesforce suited our needs on many fronts,” he says. “Our energy is no longer taken up with trying to make backend systems work. Because we now have such a seamless system, we can concentrate on moving our customers into the digital space. This is really exciting to me.”
Cookie mentions that collaboration is a key ingredient for success when leading his project teams. “People have unique capabilities and talents. We have to work as a group to deliver the best results,” he says.
“I rely on the great collaboration between our tech teams and our customer-centric teams. It’s not business dictating technology, nor technology dictating what the business needs. Rather a true collaboration that leads to success.”
Cookie credits inspiring leaders with the team’s success and his own career development.
“Having good leaders – and being a good leader – makes all the difference to a person’s success,” he says. “Rather than claiming to be an expert in a particular field and expecting people to follow, the team leaders I’ve been fortunate enough to work with were at the top of their careers. They generously shared their learnings with me.”
Focused on continual learning along the way, Cookie advises those working their way up in their careers to have an open dialogue with their leaders about mistakes and lessons.
“After every project, whether it has been a success or failure, always track the lessons learned,” advises Cookie. He notes that there are often many unknowns going into a project, which makes it so energising, but also provides so much opportunity for learning and growth.
“Take a step back and analyse the success metrics. What went well? What didn’t go so well? And then map the way forward.” Taking the time to reflect and learn from each task, project, or activity is a guiding principle that has made Cookie a highly successful project manager and an inspiring leader.
Watch Cookie’s session at Salesforce Live: Asia to hear more about the projects he leads at Meralco.
For more stories of our Trailblazers, check out these other posts from our Inspired Trailblazers series: