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Rewarding careers in KPO

Young professionals find niche in KPO with high-value skills, talent

A total of 772,000 Filipinos are employed by the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry in the country, which is expected to achieve US$13.4 billion in revenues this year. Figures from the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) show the industry will be worth US$16 billion and employ at least 926,000 people in 2013.

Due to the wide range of sectors within IT-BPO, young professionals have chosen to build careers in the industry—and have been very successful at it. The knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) sector provides broad opportunities for students and graduates in media and communications, art and design, accounting, psychology, engineering and information technology-related degrees, engineering, economics, nursing, among many others. BPAP reports that in 2011, 220,000 were employed full-time in the non-voice sector.

Charise Guevarra, a 28-year-old senior team manager for financial services firm, and Krystel Leal, a 25-year-old mid-level game developer, both share their journey to rewarding careers in the KPO industry. After all, they know what they’re talking about.

1. Know your strengths and interests.

Whether it is a hobby or a favorite subject in school, knowing what you love to do can help you decide what to take up in college or as a training course. This, as well as your cumulative experience, will eventually lead you to your dream job.

Leal’s career in game development was built on her passion and childhood pastime. “Since high school, I had a keen interest in video games. I wanted to have a career related to it,” she said. Guevarra also had an inclination toward economics and finance when she was still in school. “I just enjoyed it. I was planning to take accountancy but realized I enjoyed economics more.” Although she passed the qualifying exam for accountancy, Guevarra followed her heart and took up economics.

2. Choose the degree or vocational program that will help you land your ideal job.

When choosing the degree or program to take up, reading up on university and training courses will give you ideas on what really suits you best. Meanwhile, graduates of economics, finance, and related courses have career options that range from financial analysts, banking business analysts, and management consultants, among others. You can also be confident in your choice and get to know the industry better through job sites for specific sectors such as www.workabroadlivehere.com.

Game development companies usually recruit graduates with a degree in computer science, information technology, information systems, and even mathematics as long as they gain proficiency in Java programming and Objective-C and C++, among others. “I decided on majoring in computer science wholeheartedly because it was more practical for me and my chosen career,” Leal said.

3. Make that first impression.

Interviews and exams are part and parcel of job hunting. So it’s crucial to prepare for them and be able to demonstrate your skills and proficiency. Aside from evaluating your skills and portfolio, HR officers are also trained to analyze your attitude and character.

During the hiring process, Guevarra recalls being pitted against candidates with more experience and professional achievements. “Graduating with honors from one of the country’s top schools really helped. But it is very important to convey yourself properly during the interview. Reflect a personality that will make them comfortable to have you as a teammate,” she said.

4. Use what you’ve learned in school but never stop learning.

Consider the knowledge and skills you acquired in school as the base you build on over the course of your career. More importantly, pick up new ones along the way. “When I started working, I aligned what I learned in college with real scenarios but continued to hone my critical and analytical thinking, organizational skills, and  time management skills,” Guevarra said. She also enhanced her cultural intelligence because she deals with global clients. “I became more confident and empowered after discovering my strengths and opportunities for improvement.”

For Leal, staying on top of the game means being adaptable and updated. As part of a rapidly evolving industry, she continues to learn new programming languages and keep abreast with developments in technology. Leal says she also now enjoys working as part of a team. “I’m used to working efficiently in a team whereas I preferred to work independently in the past,” she said.

5. Go horizontal and find your niche.

Achieving your potential is valuable in the KPO industry. Instead of focusing on climbing the vertical ladder, Guevarra suggests that new graduates consider horizontal career growth. “Don’t limit yourself. It will expand your skills. Soon, you’ll be amazed about how these acquired skills will complement each other on your next chosen role. Besides, it will offer more opportunities for learning since you do not need to be stuck with just one department.”

KPO career opportunities abound as the country’s non-voice sector continues to grow. “The industry encourages employees to aspire and to learn. We also deal with core functions of the business so being part of the KPO industry is more fulfilling,” Guevarra said.

Leal agrees, “I recommend working for the IT-BPO. In this digital age, IT-related work is abundant and available. The rewards are also very promising.”

About BPAP
The Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) is the umbrella association for the IT-BPO and GIC (Global In-House Center) industry in the Philippines. BPAP serves as the one-stop information and advocacy gateway for the industry. With approximately 300 industry and support-industry members, including five associations—Animation Council of the Philippines, Contact Center Association of the Philippines, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines, and Philippine Software Industry Association—BPAP plays a pivotal role in sustaining rapid growth of the IT-BPO and GIC industry by working to ensure an enduring supply of high quality labor, supporting service innovation, and providing country visibility.

BPAP assists investors in setting up operations easily and quickly in the Philippines. Relevant research, introductions to key government and industry officials, and a series of briefings at each step of the investment process ensure a seamless development process. On-going support is provided through a wide variety of initiatives, including programs for HR development, business development, and on-going knowledge sharing and networking opportunities.