“Serving People to Serve Others“
In a company committed to providing excellent customer service, Lia Marcos exemplifies how the first people you should serve are your own.
SYKES, now part of Sitel Group®, is a leading global provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) and customer engagement services that was founded in Tampa, Florida in 1977. Two decades later, it expanded into the Philippines, becoming the first multinational contact center to operate in the country.
Globally, SYKES has more than 55,000 employees, with 17,000 of them in the Philippines alone. As Vice President for Regional Human Resources in Asia Pacific, Lia Lynn E. Marcos plays a pivotal role in ensuring their development, productivity, and well-being to ensure the highest quality of service to the company’s customers.
Lia holds a Political Science and Law degree and was a practising lawyer for eight years before she moved to Human Resources, joining SYKES in 2005. Coming from the legal field has helped her to look at challenges from a logical perspective, carving out clear action plans for the company’s employees. This has proven to be an important strength, especially in facing some of the company’s biggest challenges.
One of the first big challenge for her was during the acquisition of Philadelphia-based ICT Group in 2009. The deal doubled the size of the company, with 7,000 new employees joining SYKES. Lia ensured that as part of the leadership, she maintained clear, constant, and transparent communication to diffuse anxiety amongst the new team members and ensure that they assimilate well into the SYKES culture. To her, earning the trust of these employees must be intentional, and accompanied with patience, empathy, and flexibility.
In 2020, SYKES faced another difficult obstacle familiar to many: the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the extreme uncertainty amid government lockdowns in all four countries where the company has operations, the Human Resources Teams were quick to adapt their processes and programs to accommodate the work-from-home lifestyle. “We had one goal as a team – we don’t drop the ball, we don’t close the lights, we don’t let our customers and our clients down – and we never did,” Lia said.
Keeping operations up was one thing, protecting employees and ensuring their physical and mental health was another. On top of introducing SYKESHome to provide work-from-home support, the company, led by its Human Resources Team, also organised mental health seminars, virtual events, as well as online promotions and raffles to keep employees connected and engaged. This exemplifies the company’s culture statement, “We help people one caring interaction at a time”.
Lia echoes this statement when it comes to her leadership style. She believes a good leader must have integrity, compassion, humility, and sincere care for their team, which she strives to emulate in her role. Naming her parents as her greatest inspiration and role model, she attributes her good work ethic and strong personal values to the example they have set in their respective professions. They also raised her to be her own person, and that has allowed her to take ownership and pride in her personal conduct and work.
Through it all, Lia never forgets the people who have inspired and helped her get to where she is today. She considers the recognition of the ACES award a reflection of her team’s cumulative efforts, and she hopes that more people will hear about SYKES in which she feels privileged to be a part of.
“When leading a multinational team with thousands of employees, it’s easy to neglect the human side of human resources, but Lia Lynn E. Marcos makes it intentional in her leadership style with her personal principles of integrity, compassion, and humility.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group