Leadership knows no age: Unlocking the success of millennial leaders

Ayie Licsi - Philstar.com
Leadership knows no age: Unlocking the success of millennial leaders
Cocolife Group executives: (from left) Atty. Martin Loon, president and CEO of Cocolife, Atty. Julio Bucoy, president of Cocolife Asset Management, and Atty. Darren De Jesus, president of Cocogen. With these young minds leading the charge, they bring in unprecedented leadership styles to take their companies to greater heights.
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MANILA, Philippines —  Millennials are taking over the workforce. People born from 1981 to 1996 currently make up half of the work population, and by 2030, it’s projected that 75% of the global workforce will be millennials. They are creative, independent, tech-savvy and driven when it comes to their careers. They’re redefining how companies are run all over the world with shorter work hours, less unpaid overtime, in-office snack bars and more.

In a few years, millennials will take over as leaders in different organizations. Some young guns are actually at the helm as early as now, changing the work landscape with their innovative and fresh ideas.

A new breed of leaders

In command of Cocolife Group are three millennials who are changing the game. In the cockpit of Cocolife, the biggest Filipino-owned stock life insurance company in the country, is Atty. Martin Loon.

At 32, he was appointed president and CEO, about a year before the pandemic hit. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Ateneo de Manila University and his Juris Doctor from the University of the Philippines. He also went to Georgetown University to get his Master of Laws

Now 34, Martin is the youngest to hold the position in the company’s history. Under his leadership, Cocolife hit its highest premium and net income goals year on year. It also obtained zero non-conformity findings in its latest ISO audit, and its expense ratio is one of the best in the industry.

Atty. Darren De Jesus and Atty. Julio Bucoy stepped into leadership roles amid the pandemic as presidents for Cocogen and Cocolife Asset Management, respectively. Darren received his law degree from Ateneo de Manila University, while Julio graduated from the Fordham University in New York with a degree in Accounting and Economics and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of the Philippines.

With these young minds leading the charge, they bring in unprecedented leadership styles to take their companies to greater heights.

“I think about work and how to improve what I do every chance I get. It could be a weekend, while driving, or while running,” Martin says. “I try to spend every waking minute trying to be better.”

He adds that his leadership style involves driving people to be better, too. “I aspire to bring out the best in people and allow them to shine. I try to find the good in people and work on bringing out their best. I want my team to feel valued and to be given the chance to be creative and do what’s best.”

“I enjoy talking to people and encouraging them to work hard. I’m personally a hard worker, but I don’t like people to feel like they’re getting worked to the ground,” shares Darren. “Everything has to be aligned with the main goal for the company.”

One of the few CFA lawyers in the world, Julio describes his leadership style as democratic. “I generally work and perform tasks fast, but I get drained easily, so I end up working in bursts,” he details.

Through ups and downs

The three young men are fairly new to their executive positions in the Cocolife Group. In fact, two of them were appointed only during the pandemic. But despite the challenges, they are keeping their companies running as smoothly as they can.

“I faced the challenges with a lot of creativity and resourcefulness. There was no guidebook or course on surviving the pandemic in business,” Martin tells. “I just focused on the basics and did my best to prioritize. I tried to avoid complicating issues and simplified my approach to things that present themselves day by day.”

What makes a leader

The mark of a true leader is his passion for helping those under his wings to grow. All three leaders value most the people who work for their companies.

Julio believes that the ability to see the strengths and weaknesses of people is an essential characteristic of a leader. He stresses that being young is not a weakness when it comes to running a business.

Darren also sees the importance of people skills. “A leader has to be passionate in all things. One has to be empathetic to his/her people and clients. Most importantly, a leader must be God-fearing and should have the integrity to stand as the chief executive of a company,” he remarks.

“Integrity and excellence make a good leader. When people know that you don’t use them or take advantage of them, and when people see that you give your best every time, they’ll do the same. A leader should lead by example,” notes Martin.

To be young and competent

When talking about millennials in the workplace, they are sometimes considered as lazy, entitled and notorious job hoppers. While on the other side of the spectrum, millennials are seen as creative, risk-takers, disruptors and social responsibility-focused.

“People perceive the youth to be impatient, which can be true at times,” Darren says. “But the reality is that the youth are quick to judge whether their current situation is good for them, and this can be tempered by providing a sense of belonging in a workplace.”

Martin observes that young people value their careers. “A common misconception is that the youth do not care about stability—we do. We spend a lot of our time trying to create a stable world and society,” he enthuses.

“My youth gives me a lot of courage when dealing with problems and issues. That fire and exuberance of the youth give me that extra push whenever I need to get things done,” the Cocolife president and CEO adds.

And for the young who are aspiring to be CEOs and entrepreneurs, the three Cocolife Group executives share these gems of wisdom:

“Take calculated risks. Don’t shy away from a challenge,” Julio says.

“Keep placing yourself in challenging situations and train your eye in identifying opportunities,” Darren adds.

“Always be respectful to everyone around you. The world is very small, and you will most likely bump into the same person again in the future,” Martin says.

As the new decade blossoms, millennials are changing the workplace in tremendous ways. They’re paving the way and setting the tone for how the future generation will view leadership and what they will come to expect from their careers.

Visit Atty. Martin Loon's page on the Cocolife website to know more.


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