A large part of our outsourcing philosophy here at The Back Room is centered around connecting our clients with their off-shore teams. This can be done via technology such as Skype and Zoom conferences, videoing and messaging systems, but the connection is made even stronger when the global teams connect in person!
We have already connected many of our global teams, you can read about some examples here, and recently we had the exciting opportunity to personally meet our US-based client, a large cloud accounting and business advisory company, Aprio Cloud.Â Managing Director, Bruce A Phillips and Accounting Operations Manager, Ryan P Lynn, made the trip to The Back Room offices in Clark, Philippines to meet their offshore accounting team.
We asked Ryan to tell us about his experience, you can read his feedback here. We then sat down with some of Aprioâ€™s Clark team to ask them about their thoughts on Bruce and Ryanâ€™s visit. Hereâ€™s what they had to say.
How was your meeting with Bruce and Ryan? How would you describe them?
Meryl: Meeting with Bruce was intense. But it was a one-of-a-kind experience to meet and have a coffee with the CEO of Harshman, Phillips Co. (now Aprio Cloud) which is now getting bigger and bigger.
Ryanâ€™s visit was more in-depth in terms of implementing policies and conducting pieces of training. He knew us by heart as he conducted one-on-one talks with everyone and we learned a lot from him.
Vittorio: Meeting with Bruce and Ryan was one of the best things that I’ve experienced here at The Back Room. Bruce has a serious aura but he’s super kind. He introduced the history of Aprio and how HPC became Aprio Cloud. He asked what our expectations for this team are and told us what his expectations of us are. He also told us about the plans for our team in the future while having a cup of coffee. Heâ€™s open to any suggestions and recommendations for the team.
For Ryan, heâ€™s so cool and heâ€™s open to anything, not just in work but also in personal things. He also gave as a summarised history of Aprio Cloud. He introduced the American culture vs Philippine culture. He gave us some training regarding Karbon, the 1099 process. We got to know Ryan more when he asked the team to hang out with him.
Iâ€™m so happy that I met them and Iâ€™m looking forward to meeting them again in the future.
Rocky: Ryan is so cool. He documented the things to be done perfectly and introduced the culture of their natives. Thanks to that, we can adjust to their personalities when working with them, so we know how to deal with them. Ryan is a professional with a clever instinct of handling and managing people around him.
Josh: When I first met Ryan it was during my job/client interview. I was a little bit nervous because it was my first time talking to a foreigner in a proper, formal conversation. After a few questions, I was immediately comfortable talking to him. He told me that I did a good job answering questions and this made me more confident. Meeting Ryan in person was somewhat similar to our first interaction. He is very friendly and outgoing.
When we went to happy hour, I was the one to drive him to our destination along with Meryl. Although the traffic was quite heavy, we managed to keep each other’s company enjoyable. He never made us feel left out of the team even though I am just a new member. I quickly felt that I belonged to the team. Having him as one of our operations managers is a blessing and we hope to meet him again.
Rhea: Meeting with both of them was an experience that I will never regret. They could tell everything that the team needs: what needs to be improved, what needs to be sustained and what needs to change. And of course, how to strategise, not just for managementâ€™s growth but for the whole company.
I love bosses that reach out not just by words but also with actions, and I can strongly call them LEADERS. Overall, it was nice collaborating with them inside and outside the work environment.
Neon: Meeting with Bruce and Ryan was really a wonderful experience. Iâ€™ve seen one of Bruceâ€™s talks from Xerocon 2015 but Iâ€™ve never thought that I would be working with him in the future. He is such a wise, visionary and inspirational man. It was a great honor to be able to see him in person, have coffee with him together with the team, ask questions and share ideas. We are also inspired to know their humble beginnings, when they started their own CPA firm, their success stories, and how they become an award-winning CPA-led business advisory firm in the United States. Hoping that we can spend more time with him on his next visit. I am sure that there are still a lot of learnings and great ideas that he can share with us.
I had only met Ryan on our weekly updates through Zoom and I never thought that heâ€™d be such a cool, fun, and adventurous person. We had the privilege to work with him for the whole week and it was a really fun and productive one. A lot of ideas and plans were created, we got to know him better and vice versa, had a team lunch and night out (videoke night), and even let him taste our local dishes (tapa, sisig, kare-kare) and exotic foods (balot, fried whole quail, carabaos meat). He also likes our local fast-food chains (Jollibee and Mang Inasal). We also admired him for being such a good leader despite his young age, he has accomplished a lot of things in life and you feel his genuine concern for each and everyone in the team. We all really enjoyed his stay here and hoping heâ€™ll visit us again more often.
Tina: Bruce can be intimidating. He’s a man of few words. Straight forward. But what I like about him is that he made an effort to meet his team. He truly cares for his staff and he made us feel appreciated. He took the time to personally check how we were doing after the transition. I also like that he encourages us to interact with other employees (located in the US). Meeting Bruce was such a wonderful experience, itâ€™s not every day that we could get to meet a CEO as dedicated as Bruce and Iâ€™m glad that I had that opportunity.
As for Ryan, heâ€™s very relaxed. Heâ€™s young and adventurous. He is having the time of his life as we are. As Iâ€™m not working with Ryan directly most of our conversations were about Filipino culture. He gave me a few pointers regarding tasks and work-related matters which was very efficient. The overall experience with Ryan was like gaining a new friend at work.
During their stay what were their objectives/goals and how did it help the team?
Meryl: The objectives were to smooth the transition now that we are under new management with The Back Room and to introduce new tools for implementation and upcoming changes. It also helped the team to align our skills and knowledge with Aprioâ€™s vision for the next few years.
Josh: Their objective was to see how the team does their work, learn Philippine culture, and get to personally know each team member. Looking at how the team does their work lets them know how efficiently the team operates. They suggested processes that make their job faster and more productive.
Learning the Philippine culture lets them know the differences between America and the Philippines. For example, Ryan told us in an orientation that in America, an employee has no problem challenging their boss if they know that something is wrong, or something can be improved. Knowing each member personally helps improve the relationship of every team member.
Charles: They introduced and discussed the future plans of Aprio Cloud. The main objective is to hire more professionals in the coming months. They also introduced new apps and tools that will really be a good helping hand in improving our knowledge and skills. Also, they encouraged us to be active because this can help boost our morale and confidence in what weâ€™re doing.
Rhea: For me, their goal was to know more about their team in order to grow individually and collectively. They want to know every insight and from there they will strategise to come up with the â€œbest teamâ€. Best Team means not a perfect one but the team that coordinates accordingly and collaborates willingly.
Neon: I think their main goal was to build a relationship with the team, get to know us better, to understand how we work, know our concerns and issues, our expectations, our individual goals and how can they help us to achieve them. This helped us to become more comfortable working with them. It also removed or shortened the relationship gap between us (in the Philippines) and them (in the US) because of the cultural differences and time zones. Before weâ€™d only see them online but now, weâ€™ve got to know them better and meet them in person.
What was the most fun and memorable part of their visit to the Philippines?
Meryl: All the out of office activities, the Starbucks with Bruce, Matam-ih lunch with Ryan where he got to eat exotic foods, and Friday night with Ryan.
Rocky: During orientation, it was a privilege for us new hires to be oriented by Ryan.
Josh: When we did karaoke. Ryan was the one who started to sing first! This made us more comfortable with each otherâ€™s company.
Charles:Â When we had our happy hour and lunch out with Ryan. We really enjoyed hanging out with him because he is very welcoming and quite funny. With Bruce, it was when we had a coffee meeting with him at Starbucks.
Vittorio: When we first met Bruce, he introduced himself to us and shared some ideas while drinking a cup of coffee. With Ryan, it was when we had a one on one talk. Also, a dinner in Chiliâ€™s (especially eating balot*) and we had some fun in the Karaoke House.
Dan: When we had a meeting with Bruce at Starbucks. No one wanted to talk because we were quite shy, or maybe scared. For Ryan, it is when we hung out at Chiliâ€™s and had a karaoke session.
Mery: When we had meals outside, hanging out and talking. We kept on chitchatting so we could get to know each other.
Rhea: When we got to go out with them, talking about the business at the same time, having fun. Looking forward to more adventures with them here in the Philippines.
Neon: The time we first met them in person since that was the starting point of all the good things that happened during their stay. Our morning coffee with Bruce in Starbucks, one on one with Ryan, lunch, and dinner out with Ryan (team bonding and videoke night), Ryan eating balot at Chillâ€™s, those were really valuable moments for all of us.
Tina: Bruce and Ryan asked me about the work I do with Matt (Aprio’s client). Having a virtual assistant is actually new for them as well. Also, them getting to know me better and welcoming me to the team.
What awaits Aprio and the Clark team in the next coming months or so?
Vittorio: Clark’s team will experience some changes. We will receive additional tasks, new co-workers, and more learnings in the coming months. In the coming years, weâ€™re looking forward to Xerocon where we will be gaining more knowledge and good experience. AMEN!
Josh: Aprio Cloud keeps on growing. Next month, the mid-shift will start working. Maybe by next year, there will be a third shift. The goal is every time zone will be covered and every process will be done in real-time.
Charles: We will have additional and higher-level tasks. We will be having a bigger team and an additional shift. There will be more pieces of training and tools to sharpen our skills and knowledge.
Neon: The future is really very exciting for all of us in Aprioâ€™s Clark team. We will not only grow in numbers but will also grow individually, in learning, higher tasks, expertise, leadership, and especially in career advancements. We will also add new verticals like Tax, Not for Profit and a Technology team, plus additional shifts (mid-shift and potentially a night shift) to support our counterparts and growing clients in the US. There are also plans in having our own office space, monthly team fostering, and annual team building.
Growth and opportunity
Perhaps what we appreciate most about Aprio Cloud can be described in the two words used by Tina: growth and opportunity! We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Aprio Cloud so far and we look forward to working on new opportunities and growing together.
*Balot is a bird embryo that isÂ boiled and eaten fromÂ theÂ shell.