How an American executive hired 20,000 Filipinos

 David Rizzo recalls that when he first came to the Philippines in 2003, his company had only 200 employees in the country. Over the next decade, Rizzo, who was in charge of the company’s operations, saw its workforce grow 100-fold, in line with the dramatic expansion of the business process outsourcing industry.

The 37-year-old American executive of one of the world’s largest people-oriented companies now oversees 22,000 employees in the Philippines, his adopted home country where he built his own family.

Rizzo, a former club disc jockey before he joined the corporate scene, is the president for Asia Pacific of Teleperformance, one of the largest call center companies. He says he came to the Philippines a decade ago and decided to live here. His decision paid off, as the country later emerged as the call center capital of the world.

“I would not consider my time in the Philippines a ‘stay’ per se but rather my adopted home. My wife is from the Philippines, my children were born here and Teleperformance’s continued growth and development in the Asia-Pacific region is my career. I have no intentions to leave the Philippines for the foreseeable future,” he says.

Teleperformance, a people company established by Daniel Julien in France in 1978, now operates 101,000 computerized workstations, with more than 138,000 full-time employees across 270 contact centers in 46 countries. Teleperformance interacts with a quarter of the world’s population annually.

Teleperformance Philippines was established on April 22, 1996 and was awarded the “BPO Employer of the Year” in 2011. It operates more than 11,000 workstations at business sites across Metro Manila, Bacolod, Cebu, Antipolo and Davao.

Rizzo helped establish the company’s Philippines offshore footprint in 2003. Under his leadership, the Philippines became a key site for the company’s global operations.

Former DJ

He was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia. He lived in Alaska, Maryland and Utah before moving to Manila in 2003. He had worked as a club DJ before building a career in the call center industry.

“I joined Teleperformance in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Prior to joining Teleperformance, I worked with other contact center organizations, Communications & Commerce, which was acquired by Teleperformance and DialAmerica Marketing. Prior to joining the contact center industry, I worked as a club DJ,” he says.

He says when he visited the Philippines in 2003, his plan was to explore his options. “The first time I visited the Philippines was in late 2003 on an exploratory trip to determine whether or not I wanted to spend a couple of years managing the migration of our first Philippines-bound US clients,” he says. “Eleven years later, I am still here.”

Before he migrated to the Philippines, Rizzo was a call center manager of Teleperformance USA. In the Philippines, he was appointed vice president for operations for three years starting January 2006.

Rizzo was promoted as managing director of Teleperformance Philippines and then as president of Teleperformance Asia Pacific.

“I discovered the Philippines BPO industry along with the Philippines itself. Our business consisted of roughly 200 people when I arrived and here we are today with an excess of 22,000 and growing. I’m not sure any of us envisioned the industry would be where it is today 10 years ago but I share the general sentiment that the Philippines BPO industry will absolutely continue to grow,” he says.

The Philippines emerged as the call center capital of the world, while Metro Manila became the second best city for business process outsourcing, based on different surveys. As of end-2013, some 900,000 Filipinos were employed in the BPO sector, a number that is expected to climb to 1 million this year, according to industry association Business Processing Association of the Philippines. The industry’s road map aims to employ over 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.

Still growing

Rizzo says Teleperformance and the Philippine BPO industry remain on the growth path.

“There are markets in this country that are maturing and well-positioned that would have never been considered years ago. There are growing segments of everything from shared services to new complex service offerings, the social media space and of course new business offerings that will all represent continued opportunity for the Philippines. I look forward to being a part of it for years to come,” he says.

He says the Philippine operation plays a crucial role in the company’s global presence. “We have over 22,000 employees in the Philippines and this market is one of the largest across the 46 countries we operate in. The Philippines is absolutely important to our global business given the percentage of English language market share of the global outsourced market,” he says.

“The Philippines is in the unique position to capitalize on business needs from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the English- speaking world. It remains one of our fastest-growing delivery locations in the world,” he says.

He says the company will keep expanding in the Philippines. “The Philippines has been good to Teleperformance as it has to the rest of the BPO community. We have every intention of continuing our expansion efforts as long as the business need exists and the various labor markets across the country can sustain it,” he says.

Hectic schedule

Rizzo’s daily schedule is hectic, filled with meetings and planning sessions. “There is nothing typical during the weekdays. Our business is very fluid. My responsibilities include continued development of the Philippines as well as our footprint across the rest of Asia Pacific where we have operations in China, Singapore and Indonesia. Therefore, the day-to-day schedule is dictated by the various market and business needs,” he says.

He also looks forward to weekends. “Planning the sleep schedule at least a week out is one key to survival. My family keeps me busy on the weekends. Family time can be tough to come by during the week, so I maximize it on the weekends with my lovely wife, my eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter,” he says.

“Weekends are usually filled with my son’s soccer matches, golf lessons or karate practice, my daughter’s ballet or swimming demands and my wife’s time on date nights where we foodie around town and try to keep up with what’s new on the culinary scene,” he says.

Rizzo says he makes sure he and his family get to see more of the beautiful Philippines. “My hobbies include scuba, golf, traveling, barbequing and the occasional wine tasting. I’ve traveled across most of the Philippines but my favorite places include Batanes, Balesin, Boracay and Anilao,” he says. RTD



Topics: David Rizzo , Teleperformance , call center
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