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My First Visit to Manila - Mark Mcnee

What better way to know and bond with your team offshore than to come fly out and visit? I’ve now been with Frontline for 9 months and it was always an expectation that I would come out to Manila to meet the team here – it wasn’t required for onboarding as a pioneer of offshoring we know how to onboard team members remotely – but for as much as we advocate that work can be done from anywhere, we also appreciate the value in getting together with colleagues, learning, sharing and building relationships. I got introduced to amazing Filipino food, enjoyed the beach, and sang endless karaoke! So now that Covid rules are starting to ease in The Philippines, and the rain has (pretty much) stopped, November was the perfect time for me to come over, meet the team and get involved in the management team trip to a beautiful spot 2 hours south of Manila called Batangas.

First off – it's pretty “easy” to get here – With minimal effort I was booked onto an Emirates flight from Glasgow to Dubai (7.5), a quick stopover to stretch the legs then Dubai to Manila (8hrs). If you’ve travelled to Southeast Asiabefore you will be familiar with the instant hit of warm humid air that hits you as soon as you get off the plane – luckily,I’mtold that I’m visiting in a “relatively cool” time of year with temps around 30°C 😎 not 40°C to 45°C 🥵

My first impressions of Manila were that it is a sprawling metropolis with an obvious mix of wealth and poverty (just like most major cities around the world) and that I wouldn’t drive in this city if you paid me 😆.

Sadly, lacking a reliable mass transportation system and with a population of 18 million or so, driving here requires you to be fluent in the use of your horn which is akin to morse code and a special kind of spatial awareness that considers any space large enough for a scooter or bike will soon be occupied by one. I think that kind of driving confidence can only come from learning how to drive in this kind of environment.

Getting to Eastwood though is a different experience. It is a business hub in Quezon City, still part of Manila. This is where our headquarters is located. It is a place almost like a self-contained little westernised city in the middle of Southeast Asia; full of familiar names like TGI Fridays, McDonald's, Accenture and IBM. I stayed at the Richmonde Hotel and is just a 5-minute walk from the office. The experience in Richmonde clearly shows just how friendly and welcoming the Filipino people are

I wasn’t the only one from the UK taking advantage of the easy connecting flights and relaxation in Covid rules. On my first night here, I went out for a few beers with the guys From Cornish Accounting. They have just expanded their team with us and took the opportunity to come and do some training, onboarding and take their staff away for a team building trip.

The next morning (7am MNL time), after clearing building security at IBM Plaza I have a trip up to the 24th floor and I’m greeted at the Frontline doors by the friendly admin team and taken through the security protocols including biometric scanning before being taken on a walk through the modern offices with an open plan layout and cubicles for privacy which are decorated with a mixture of family pictures and K-pop bands 😆

The familiar sight of a room full of accountants (7000 miles from the UK) working away on Xero & Dext confirms the mantra of the Cloud Accounting software giants that you really can “work from anywhere”.

Next week, I’ll be taking you through my meetings with the Marketing Team, Management Team, the Board of Directors and the Frontline Investors. We have exciting plans for you on 2023.



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