A master-planned holiday office party
PLDT’s Data Privacy Office pulls off a MasterChef-themed holiday party.

A master-planned holiday office party

Michaela Tangan (The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Another year means another Christmas party to plan. Let’s be real; putting together an unforgettable party isn’t as easy as it sounds. Pinning and matching the perfect date and an available events place are just the tip of the iceberg.

Before deciding on the other parts of the program, we often overlook the backbone and the main ingredient that will spice up the night: the theme. And before choosing something that’s been used a billion times before, consider the fact that your co-workers have been working hard all year long.

For once, employees need to loosen up and have a night to remember (and laugh about during breaks and the wee hours of the workday). In doing so, event planners suggest coming up with enjoyable and unique themes that are also specific and reasonable.

Masterchefs for a day 

While the PLDT’s Data Privacy Office (DPO) protects critical data on a daily basis, they surely know how to have fun. This year, they creatively pulled off an exciting MasterChef-themed corporate holiday party.

Michelle Bustamante, the team’s data protection strategy head, told The Philippine STAR that the planning started in July after a successful, Amazing Race-inspired team-building activity in Zambales. That feat challenged the team to further elevate the excitement of their next gathering.

Luckily, the reality cooking TV show-inspired concept perfectly suits a group of foodies and home cooks. And Seventeen O’ Nine, a micro event space with a rentable kitchen, was established to help such ideas come to life.

“We love food,” Bustamante says. “We have people in the department who we know are amazing home cooks. With this in mind — coupled with the natural, competitively fun nature of the team that we discovered during the summer team building — our head, Leah Jimenez, thought of having a cook-off activity for the Christmas party.”

After brainstorming a bit more and throwing out ideas, they decided to elevate the concept into a full-fledged MasterChef theme, complete with secret ingredients, limited cooking times, etc.

Scrumptious dishes highlight the event.

They even laid out contest mechanics and surprise mini-games to take the party to the next level, which brought out the talent, competitiveness and creativity of the employees.

“In the weeks leading up to the event, there was a lot of playful ribbing and trash talking between the teams; secret meetings for taste testing and plating practice was also happening behind the scenes,” Bustamante said. “The concept showcased the creativity of employees, and saw staff and supervisors stepping up to take the lead, and managers taking a ‘backseat’ supporting role.”

The Seventeen O’ Nine crew were also thrilled to host the event. According to Bustamante, the micro events place accommodated their requests for ocular visits, and patiently answered their inquiries about the availability of cooking tools and equipment. The place was all set when PLDT’s DPO arrived at the venue for the party.

The rest of the evening unfolded as planned, but ended up more memorable than expected. The department, which was only established a year ago, did not have parody dance competitions and hilarious role-playing performances, unlike the usual holiday parties. But they had scrumptious, freshly cooked dishes, a cozy OPM jamming session, and an undeniably good time.

“After eating, the bonding was at its best,” Bustamante shared. “Everyone was sitting together in one group, jamming OPM songs with a team member, who we didn’t even know had musical talents playing the guitar. The usual cliques were no longer evident; everyone was just enjoying each other’s company. Employees expressed their gratitude for the unique party concept, plus the fact that new employees didn’t have to dance. They were also grateful for the chance to work with and get to know people outside of their usual office barkadas.”

She added, “Being a new department with employees coming in from different units of the organization, our goal was simply to foster unity — that we are just one team united towards a single objective, and that each individual plays an important role in the success of the entire unit, no matter what level they may be in.”

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