by Felipe G. Balingit Jr., PhD
As part of its annual foundation celebrations, the College of Business and Accountancy invites captains of industry, accomplished entrepreneurs, business executives, and other prominent luminaries in the field of management and accountancy to share their thoughts and experiences in a forum called Peter Drucker Management Lecture. Last school year, MAP President and Deloitte Managing Partner Greg Navarro spoke in the Peter Drucker Management Lecture. This year, the college invited a prominent Filipino industrialist and acknowledged management guru Rolando S. Narciso as special guest in the lecture series.
I am fortunate to have known Rolando S. Narciso since 1980. He was one of my superiors and mentors in National Steel Corporation where I rose from senior systems analyst to head of the Engineering Division Accounting Department in Iligan City, and thereafter head of the Head Office Accounting Department in Makati. RSN (to people whose lives he has touched) may not be a Frederick Taylor, Peter Drucker, Malcolm Baldrige, Malcolm Gladwell, William Edwards Deming, Michael Porter, Stephen Covey, and others who are known and respected worldwide for their management philosophies. He may not be a Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, Manny Pangilinan, or Manny Villar and others who are popular in the Philippines for their financial clout, management savvy, entrepreneurial skills, and business acumen. But what RSN accomplished contributed immensely to the quest for Philippine industrialization and has endeared him to his former co-workers, friends and associates.
RSN accepted the invitation and on January 7, 2016 visited LPU Laguna and shared his thoughts on the subject Managing the People Component in Organizations. The lecture was attended by other guests, CBA faculty and senior CBA students. After the lecture, RSN was interviewed by a panel composed of selected faculty and students namely, Dr. Francis K. Ashipaoloye, Professor Win Maw Tun, and by CBA students Rein Bercasio and Adrianne Encarnacion.
RSN finished his baccalaureate degree in business at the Ateneo at the age of 19, and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Asian Institute of Management at the very young age of 21, a record in the history of the business school. He has many years of top management experience under his belt, beginning in 1967 as an executive in the ESSO oil and chemical conglomerate (first in Manila and then in New York) and culminating in his 21-year stint from 1974 to 1995 as president and COO of National Steel Corporation which he ably turned around, operated in true ISO fashion, and prepped for a major role in Philippine industrialization prior to its government-sanctioned “privatization” and eventual appalling demise under the ownership and management of foreign nationals.
In his lecture RSN divulged that he is a follower of Peter Drucker and explained the importance of man in the organization. He said that even during the industrial revolution up to the present-day technology – driven business environment, the most important variable in the success of any organization is still people. Men or people of the organization can make or break an organization even if the other “M” success factors – market, materials, machines, money, and methods are adequate or not. Human history is replete with lessons on the ability of man’s indomitable spirit as the driving force behind the success of an organization amidst adversity or even in the face of deficiencies in materials, money, machines, methods and markets.
There were several points in his lecture that resonated in the minds of those in attendance. Among them was the evolving mindset about a job or work – that a job is not mere employment but rather, also an engagement to support a worthy cause or a meaningful purpose. Another is this: when things go wrong, blaming is minimized and learning is maximized. That is an important feature in a truly learning organization.
Moreover, managers must help their fellow workers to rise in the hierarchy of work meaning: from the lowest level of working to earn money, to realizing one’s potential, to helping others become better persons, and to advancing the cause of mankind. RSN concluded his talk with an elucidation of a quotation by Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
In his sharing, RSN intimated that his greatest accomplishment in life was his being able to shape organizational behavior and to direct change by motivating and influencing men and women from all walks of life and with different persuasions, motivations and life aspirations into a cohesive and dynamic organization working towards the achievement of a common corporate goal. He did this while president and COO of NSC which at its peak had almost 5,000 employees.
RSN lamented the fact that after NSC was plundered, the national government marginalized if not totally abandoned the nation’s industrialization track particularly the need to have a truly integrated Philippine steel industry that will boost the economy and enable the country to be self-reliant and cost-competitive in upstream and downstream steel products.
Surely history will judge RSN kindly and well. He is an accomplished corporate wheeler-dealer, a management strategist and tactician who has earned his niche in the annals of Philippine business. The “whiz kid” (as we fondly called him) assembled, trained, motivated and developed the best Filipino managers and masterfully cultivated the RSN management team that nurtured the moribund Iligan Integrated Steel Mills, Inc. into a technically and financially robust National Steel Corporation. Sadly, this same NSC, against his advice was hastily privatized by the Philippine government, then mismanaged, milked, and bankrupted in short order by its foreign owners.