By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Raised by a single mother with unstable job, Hazel Del Rosario-Lee knew poverty, but because of her circumstance she was shaped to become a most adaptable and nurturing woman leader of her generation.
Poverty was a sad phase, but it did not leave a bad taste in her mouth. In fact, she learned from it and become a better person out of it.
Now, Hazel leads the Philippine unit of the combined Oracle NetSuite tech giant. She may be fearful having reached this far, but, just like poverty, there is no doubt she can hack it.
The acquisition of NetSuite by Oracle has created a synergy in both companies. NetSuite has a big presence in the Philippines with its knowledge process operation here.
Oracle-NetSuite pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the internet. Today, it provides a suite of cloud-based financials/Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR and omni-channel commerce software that run the business of companies in more than 100 countries.
“It’s business as usual for us in Oracle NetSuite Philippines,” says Hazel, the tenured NetSuite employee (one of the pioneers) who has taken on responsibilities in both the Operations and Technical Support departments. Hazel has worked for companies like Microsoft Business Solutions, Sykes Asia, and Great Plains.
In her new role, Hazel will lead and oversee key management activities and initiatives in Oracle NetSuite Philippines, including industry and customer relations, as well as corporate social responsibility and employee engagement.
“Being the largest delivery center outside of our US headquarters, we are busy growing our teams in services, product development and management, customer support and others,” adds Hazel.
According to her, the Philippines continues to have a great pool of candidates with skills and background that fit their requirements. Oracle NetSuite has been able to attract candidates who share the same values.
In fact, Hazel said its channel and sales teams are also busy signing up new customers in verticals like wholesale, distribution, retail omnichannel, real estate, construction, property development, and food and beverage.
“We have also been winning deals in retail in the Visayas and Mindanao region. With all the opportunities out there, we are in constant search for quality partners to join our team,” she adds proudly.
In the Philippines, Hazel said they have recruited and opened up to one worldwide EMEA/USA Solution Provider named Softype, which has been instrumental in winning large retail brands including big supermarket and appliance firms in the Visayas and Mindanao region.
“They are doing well covering the untapped white space in the south,” she adds.
Globally, Hazel said the company also has huge growth in its sales rep headcount especially outside of the United States.
This is aligned with one of the company’s focus areas which is to increase its global footprint. More aggressive sales targets mean more sales reps and vice versa.
To support its partners, Oracle-NetSuite hosts various events focused on field selling skills, executive presentations and winning new customers.
“This is, of course, on top of our good commission program,” stresses Hazel.
Hazel has cited NetSuite’s contribution to Oracle’s business in the country.
She said that it also helps in gaining the trust and confidence of local customers when they know that NetSuite has a big global delivery center here in the Philippines that they and partners can tap for assistance.
“NetSuite is the leading cloud business software. Being born and a pioneer in the cloud, we have a large footprint in this space especially among fast-growing companies,” says Hazel.
Overall, NetSuite complements the wide range of solutions of Oracle that cater to different kinds of businesses.
She rationalizes that in every acquisition, like what happened to NetSuite when it was acquired by Oracle, it is normal for people to speculate and resist changes. It’s been almost a year since their transition to Oracle NetSuite Philippines and each remains to be a separate global business unit, a lot of their core processes are still the same including values and culture. Oracle is a big company with some very structured, self-service processes.
“There are some adjustments in the adoption and as we become more familiar with it, the more we appreciate its efficiency. Oracle is also big on employee development and one of the things I really like and think Oracle NetSuite employees should take advantage of is the wide range of free trainings Oracle offers to its employees. From technical trainings to business and management and even personal stuff like photography. Just looking at the catalog of trainings, I don’t think one will run out of things to learn while in Oracle,” she adds.
Thus, even after the acquisition, said both entities still remain separate.
“We still build, manage and grow our own teams like Services, Support, Sales, Product Management and Development,” says Hazel.
But both companies share the same culture and values that helped them achieve the success they have right now and continue to build on it.
According to Hazel, they cater to all industries and consider them all clients.
“In general, we are open for business to any customer in any kind of business,” says Hazel. This is further complemented by its partners who have extensive experience in selling and implementing NetSuite in different industries or verticals.
While there are no specific target industries, Hazel cited the rise in retail, ecommerce accounts. Property development and real estate continue to flood the Philippines and wholesale distribution/manufacturing remains a growth area for NetSuite.
“Still a lot of opportunities to close,” says Hazel.
But Hazel also noted that the Philippine market is still based on relationship with clients and partners.
“In the Philippines, it is typical for a businessman to own a few businesses in different industries. And the Philippine market is still relationship sensitive. If you win a deal in one of their businesses and the relationship is good, you gain their other business, as well,” says Hazel.
With all its might and global presence, Hazel said that challenges are what make the Oracle company always on its toes. She cited challenges in cloud computing.
In particular, she said that concerns on data security, privacy, reliability, and control still make some companies hesitant to move to the cloud.
In Oracle NetSuite, they also leverage the success stories of their customers to inspire others to move their business to the cloud for their own and their customers’ benefits.
But data privacy is also one thing that Oracle NetSuite is wary about. She cited Oracle’s big boss Mark Hurd, who mentioned that one of their jobs is to secure customers’ data.
“We also have strong policies and processes governing the handling of customer information in our daily conduct of business. If data privacy is among the top concerns of companies who are hesitant to move to the cloud then it should be a top priority for us,” Hazel stresses.
Customers’ data are encrypted. At the last SuiteWorld, Hurd stressed that Oracle encrypts the data they collect, store and transfer through integration in NetSuite.
“We have tools and processes in place that prevent even our own employees from unnecessary access to and mishandling of customer’s data,” says Hazel.
This is important because data breaches have become a challenge for many years now because information is valuable and the abundance of it in the online space naturally attracts hackers to steal it.
“I also think that these people will always attempt to test systems by breaking into them,” she adds. This is the reason IT companies will continue to find ways to enhance their data protection systems, policies and processes.
In terms of adopting new technologies such as automation, AI, and robotics, Hazel explained that these are not really new concepts as these have been there for years already although these have become more popular now than ever.
There are also different opinions from experts and analysts on its adoption here in the country. But for Hazel, the Philippines is in the digital era already with a big population of tech savvy workforce. With that, she believes, this will accelerate the adoption of AI, and automation.
“Based on my own experience, working with our young professionals, they work well in an environment that allows them to move up the value chain quite fast. They are all about continuous learning and acquisition of new skills,” says Hazel.
The other thing that will naturally drive the quicker adoption of these emerging technologies is competition. The most dynamic businesses, the ones that are most receptive to change will not only survive but will achieve more success. “Change is inevitable,” she adds.
In all of these, Oracle NetSuite cannot be left behind. They are in the forefront as what their leaders have emphasized at the last SuiteWorld in Las Vegas. With NetSuite’s agile business solution, it can scale rapidly to allow companies to respond to changes that impact their growth and success.
“We were born in the cloud and that already gives us edge in the competition. By leveraging Oracle’s resources and global scale, we continue to build on the core of what makes us successful and expand our reach,” says Hazel.
Young and accomplished
No doubt, Hazel is one of the youngest and most accomplished women leaders in the IT space.
With a quiet demeanor, this lovely Hazel could struck as someone always in deep thought for her somewhat pensive appearance. But few have known of her humble beginnings.
“I have always been passionate in sharing my story to the people around me. Many do not know that I come from humble beginnings,” says Hazel, a proud daughter of a single mother who only finished high school with no stable job.
“Poverty taught me the meaning of responsibility which I define as putting needs before wants. Life was hard and it was enough motivation to change and improve it no matter what,” says Hazel.
Her circumstance has molded her into a highly adaptable personality to any circumstance she is into.
“You see, when you have a lot of people depending on you aside from yourself, you got to do what you got to do. And it makes you a better person as you push yourself to go out of your comfort zone and learn new things every day,” says Hazel.
But despite her being a self-made woman, Hazel does not credit it all to herself stressing that big credit also goes to the people around her. She particularly thanked her husband and 2 boys for being very supportive of her career aspirations and are proud of her achievements because everything she has is also theirs to own.
At work, she is surrounded by very smart and dedicated individuals because she believes that nobody is great at everything but everybody is great at something.
“You have to know your strength and then surround yourself with people who know stuff you don’t know. Look for people who think differently from you and those who have life experiences different from yours. And together, you can help each other grow by sharing what you have,” says Hazel.
Becoming the leader of Oracle NetSuite Philippines did not spare Hazel from fears but she never doubted herself.
“Doubts, no. Fear, yes. It is a big responsibility and I’d like to think of it as a great opportunity to make a bigger impact to our team,” says Hazel, who has been supported by a team of pioneers in Manila. They also continue to be the largest with a big representation in senior management in Oracle’s global department.
“Fear because I have big shoes to fill and people will always have big expectations. My predecessors James and Tom were both great and accomplished. I may never be like them, but that is not my goal either. It’s been almost a year since our transition to Oracle NetSuite Philippines. It is what I make it. My passion and strength are on people. I was there since day 1 and have seen this office grow year on year up to what it is now. I know the hearts and the minds of the members of this office. We breath the same air, sit in the same office, eat the same free food in our pantry and deal with the same challenges commuting to and from the office each day. I believe I can represent them well in our global organization and help them achieve the growth they aspire for,” she adds.
Hazel would like to be able to help other teams grow in the same scale as her team.
“I’d like to be a mentor and inspiration to our local leaders and staff,” she adds.
While there is enough time for everything, Hazel also learned that time management is a common challenge among managers and leaders.
Often, she said, “the reason we struggle in delegation is not because we don’t trust the other person but because we find it hard to let go of doing the things that we like.
Know your role and value to the organization and align your priorities with it.”
Though still young, her team would like to call her Mama Hazel, HAL (acronym for Hazel Ann Lee) or HAD (Hazel Ann Del Rosario). Mama Hazel because like her mother, Hazel is the nurturing type.
“I work with a lot of young people both in age and experience who need mentorship. I like to provide them the right level of support and empowerment to be successful. I give them tough love to prepare them to deal with almost any kind of situation,” says Hazel, who practices an adaptive and progressive management style.
Her extensive experience working with different kinds of people at different stages in their career has helped her tailor her approach per individual per situation. At her current level, she works with more senior managers in the organization. This has given her a free hand to focus on direction and objectives and empower her team to develop strategies.
“But there are things that are core to our business like customer experience that I will always be very involved and hands on. For example, I respond and engage in a dialogue with a customer on their feedback,” she adds.
Since her work schedule overlaps between late North America and early Asia Pacific business hours, she makes it a point to reserve weekends and holidays for family whether at home or outside as she and her husband would like their kids to explore the world through actual experiences.
“Based on our own experience, there’s a variety of things that you can learn when you travel that can help you improve your life and that of others,” says Hazel, who considers her team an extension of her family.
“It’s like having dinner with your family because we work with North America hours so when we get home, usually we are alone because the kids and our spouses are in school or at work. On the way home, I listen to audio books while driving,” says Hazel, who still finds “me” time that are mostly spent on catching up her readings in a quiet coffee shop or shop in the malls or just simply being the regular woman doing personal errands.
“I also make it a point to look good to inspire others,” says Hazel noting that having big responsibilities at work and home doesn’t mean you don’t have time to take care of yourself. It’s a matter of priority and personal choices.
She also tries to be active in social media, building connections and empowering others through inspiring posts and some family activities as she believes that is another way of allowing her team be part of her family.
Though successful as she is, Hazel is well-grounded.
“Don’t try to please everyone. People will pull you to different directions. It’s okay to say ‘no’ so you can focus on the right things and have enough for yourself. As a young leader, I used to get intimidated by senior peers and would take back seat during discussions. My boss and mentor, James then once told me, you need to get off the porch and run with the big dogs. In order to grow you need to be comfortable working with the big guys. The goal is not to impress but to learn from their knowledge and experience. I make a conscious effort to speak in meetings especially when it is a group of senior leaders. I can’t count anymore the number of times I felt what I said did not make sense but it was through constant participation that I gained their trust and confidence. And you just continue moving to the next level,” says Hazel.
Hazel is that authentic and personal. She is driven to succeed not just at Oracle NetSuite, but she is driven for all the right reasons.