Ken Caoyonan: An ASW Pioneer with True Grit
Ken has been with AS White Global for more than 10 years. He’s actually the second employee that ASW hired in the Philippines and was instrumental in establishing the initial operational and HR procedures. Currently based in Malaysia as a Quality and Training Manager, Ken is a great example of a mentor-leader who encourages his staff to unlock their full potential and inspires them to provide excellent service to our client partner.
1. Hi Ken, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies and interests?
I’m a Virgo and an introvert who likes cleanliness and organisation. I’m quiet most of the time as I like to observe. I value loyalty and friendships above all else. Hence, I keep a small but tight circle of friends (quality over quantity). Outside of work, I’m a fitness junkie so you will probably find me at the gym de-stressing. I prefer Netflix and chilling at home over parties anytime.
2. How many years have you been with ASW? How did you start at ASW?
I’ve been with ASW for more than 10 years. I was employee number two and was part of the first Philippine management team. I was originally hired as a Training & Quality Supervisor in charge of studying, learning, and transitioning several of our onshore processes to Manila. I also conducted HR and new hire inductions and developed training and quality procedures and solutions for BAS Philippines. Being part of the core management team, I was also heavily involved with the creation of several operational and HR procedures, majority of which are still being used today or has been used as a foundation for our current SOPs.
3. How long have you been residing and working in Malaysia? Can you share with us your experience on how you’ve adapted?
I have been residing in Malaysia for six years now. Prior to moving, I was already visiting Kuala Lumpur almost every month for six months. Our RTWSS Ops manager (Jonah Camania) and I would come to KL to assist with the hiring and to conduct induction training. In order to better understand the work culture, I participated and immersed myself in the recruitment interviews and I functioned as an Ops team leader/trainer for six months. This put me in the front line and really allowed me to observe and engage with all of our BAS KL staff. I was also very fortunate because my Malaysian colleagues were all very understanding, patient and encouraging. I had the best support system at work!
4. What do you appreciate most about being in Malaysia?
Definitely the people. Malaysians are just naturally friendly, generous, polite and courteous. Always ready to greet you with a smile. Everyone will either call you bro, boss, or uncle!
5. Can you tell us more about your role here at ASW? What’s a regular day like for you?
I am currently the Quality & Training Manager for BAS PH and KL. My team is in charge of everything that is QA and Training-related and we exist to support BAS Operations.
A regular day starts with me checking for attendance and going through my calendar. I take note of any meetings scheduled for that day. I go through my emails and create my to-do list which pretty much dictates my schedule for the day. The rest of the day is spent catching up with my Team Leaders, Trainers, and QA’s and just making sure everyone is clear on their deliverables for that week.
6. As a Quality and Training Manager, what are the challenges that you usually encounter and how do you handle them?
Sudden urgent ad hoc requests, tight deadlines, QA disputes that are escalated, and people issues (attrition and conflicts).Always be factual and objective. Don’t be quick to make judgements, especially if there are heightened emotions involved. A face-to-face/sit-down session or a phone call usually resolves these issues. It also doesn’t hurt that I have a competent and talented team who helps me deal with these challenges.
7. What changes have you seen within yourself, personally and professionally, when you took on a leadership role? What leadership skills have you learned to develop?
I’ve become more empathetic and patient. I’ve learned how to utilise the talent, knowledge, and expertise of my colleagues. I listen more and ask the right questions. Always think of the bigger picture and how will this action impact the team/business. My role as a mentor is to provide guidance and help my staff explore their potential.
8. How do you guide and motivate your team members? How do you resolve differences or gaps between you and the Malaysian or Philippine teams?
I don’t micromanage so my style is more towards “show me what you can do and I’ll give you my suggestions/recommendations.” I’m a firm believer that evaluated experience is the best teacher so I always encourage my staff to do reflective thinking before taking any sort of action. There’s really no difference with how I approach my PH staff vs my KL staff. As long as you practice and demonstrate respect and honesty then all gaps can be bridged regardless of location/nationality.
9. In your more than 10 years of work experience at ASW, what project or task have you done that you are most proud of?
The growth of my people. Seeing them rise to new heights is my greatest accomplishment.
10. What important lessons have you learned in your leadership role?
Focus on what matters and block time for it. If you only work reactively, people will fill your day with ad hoc meetings and small administrative tasks. Block your focus time and do not let people distract you unless it’s critical.
11. Who do you admire as a leader and why?
I admire our BAS Leaders –Adriano Cusmano, Jonah Camania, Riel Faustino, and Elison Besas–for their grit, passion and resilience.
12. Is there a personal or professional goal that you’ve always wanted to accomplish?
To complete a Six Sigma certification.
13. Thanks for your time! Is there any special message or advice that you’d like to share with your fellow ASW colleagues, especially for those who are aspiring for leadership positions?
Sometimes, bumps on the road are disguised as gains. Just stay focussed, communicate with one another, treat people with kindness and respect, and maintain the grit necessary to keep moving forward.