Seve Paulo P Linis Of South Asialink Finance Corporation (SAFC) On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Businesses are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks as they become more digital. Adequate cybersecurity procedures must be put in place in order to safeguard sensitive data and uphold client confidence. It is recommended that businesses use firewalls to restrict undesirable network traffic, utilize Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to privatize their network connections, employ anti-virus and anti-malware software, and use secure passwords. By protecting data and systems from cyberattacks, these steps assist maintain business continuity and reliability.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Seve Paulo Linis.

As the head of Digital Process Innovation at SAFC, He lead efforts to enhance our business procedures and expand our digital presence. His background as a cum laude graduate in Management Economics from the University of the Philippines Baguio has given me a solid foundation in business, marketing, and economics, preparing me for the complexities of the digital world. Alongside his role at SAFC, He is also actively working as a freelance SEO specialist, applying my skills across various industries to enhance online visibility and engagement. Blending corporate responsibility with freelance flexibility keeps me informed about digital trends, helping both my clients and our company with up-to-date SEO and digital marketing strategies. The driving force behind my journey is a passion for innovation and dedication to delivering impactful digital solutions.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started my career as a freelancer when I was getting my bachelor’s degree. I began as a self-employed SEO content writer and became an expert in the field after some time. I worked with organizations in a variety of industries over time, which allowed me to pick up additional skills. I remember collaborating with a travel blog as an SEO specialist. Working closely with their website manager, I picked up essential website-building skills, which I later offered to my clients. This experience also led me to explore social media management and other business tools like Mailchimp, Trello, and Airtable.

With this knowledge, I established my own team to handle additional SEO clients and created our own processes utilizing the tools and systems I had learned. I started working at SAFC as a management trainee after receiving my degree. My ability to streamline workflows and automate processes, together with my knowledge of digital marketing and SEO, led me to my current position as SAFC’s Head of Digital and Process Innovation.

My proficiency with digital transformation techniques has risen since completing the CASUGOL Certified Digital Transformation Professional (CDTP) course. I’m still committed to creativity and lifelong learning, and I’m constantly searching for innovative ways to help with the digital transformation. I attempt to stay current with the latest developments in digital trends and best practices, whether it’s by working with technology professionals, going to industry conferences, or enrolling in advanced training programs. By making this commitment, I aim to successfully oversee and execute innovative projects that drive our company’s growth and success.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Among my most interesting early mistakes was my enthusiasm to apply “best practices” from huge, multinational firms I had worked with, without fully appreciating the unique requirements of a smaller client. I had attempted to implement a full digital transformation strategy for a small business, but I was unable to do so because of the unintegrated and poorly maintained data of the company.

This experience taught me the importance of understanding a company’s specific context and starting with foundational improvements before implementing advanced strategies. At SAFC, I made sure to focus on data management and integration first, which laid the groundwork for more effective digital transformation initiatives. It’s a lesson in the importance of building strong foundations before aiming for lofty goals.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Even though I realize this sounds cheesy, but I guess both of my parents are really the people that have played a significant role in my success. They have always encouraged my interests and passions, be it music, chess, or anything else. I used to have the desire to study a variety of musical instruments. They got me an electric guitar, bass, piano, violin, drums, and guitar. Their constant support fueled my curiosity and gave me the assurance that “with enough time, I can learn and master anything.”

I think having this supportive environment was the reason why I have the courage to always push my boundaries and explore unfamiliar areas. Their confidence in my abilities has always been a source of inspiration for me, encouraging me to reach my objectives and pursue further development.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One movie that always plays in my mind from time to time is “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Despite its unusual spelling, which also caught my eye, the movie’s message really spoke to me, especially the scene where Chris Gardner tells his kid, “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves; they want to tell you, you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”

This quote captures the importance of having perseverance and determination in life. It reminded me of my own journey as a working student, balancing multiple jobs, my studies and the challenges I faced with it. I remember there was a time I had to quit a job because I felt tired from working and studying at the same time. However, I got over it eventually and this started looking for a job that allows me to properly balance my studies, which led to my freelance SEO career. I guess this was the time I realized that the real lesson from this movie is that obstacles are just stepping stones towards achieving one’s dreams, and it’s crucial to stay focused and resilient despite setbacks.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We are currently working on creating a more efficient online loan inquiry process for our clients. Through the integration of our website, social media accounts, and other customer-facing channels, this project will expedite and improve our customers’ inquiry process. While this initiative primarily focuses on enhancing customer experience, it aligns with our mission of “making Filipinos’ lives better” by supporting SMEs, which constitute 70% of our portfolio.

We are assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs in realizing their goals and strengthening the economy by making financial services more accessible. Our dedication to using digital transformation to improve operational efficiency and client satisfaction is one of the commitments of SAFC that our Digital and Process Innovation team is trying to fulfill by initiating this project.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. Digital transformation can mean many things to many people, from your perspective, how do you define digital transformation in your industry?

Digital transformation in the finance industry usually involves using technology to improve customer satisfaction, boost operational efficiency, and drive innovation. In essence, it’s about integrating digital tools and procedures to optimize operations, cut expenses, and offer customers faster, better services.

The digital transformation for the work I do at SAFC involves not just implementing cutting-edge technology but also making sure they fit our business model. For me, to prevent the common mistake of investing in technologies that eventually prove ineffective for company objectives, digital transformation should start with finding what works best for your company. I know that it is commonly said that to stay competitive and satisfy consumers’ changing needs, we must constantly strive for development and adaptation. However, while I believe that to be true, I also think that aligning your efforts in development and adaptation with your business is just equally important.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is advantageous for businesses of all kinds, but it is especially advantageous for those in competitive, customer-focused industries. Businesses that operate in sectors where productivity, data management, and customer happiness are crucial, such as manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and finance, stand to gain the most from investing in digital transformation.

In the finance sector, for example, businesses such as SAFC can use digital solutions to increase data security, optimize client interactions, and simplify loan processing. In the end, digital transformation can be advantageous to any firm that is prepared to invest in technology and embrace change., any organization willing to embrace change and invest in technology can benefit from digital transformation.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

It can be difficult to integrate digital transformation because of things like insufficient digital skills for employees, old systems, and resistance to change. Ensuring cybersecurity, efficiently managing data, and coordinating digital strategy with business objectives are challenges shared by many firms.

At SAFC, we work to overcome these obstacles by encouraging an innovative and never-ending learning culture. We prioritize cybersecurity, ensure excellent data management procedures, and offer training to improve digital skills. We reduce resistance and ensure that our digital activities are in line with our strategic goals by integrating all stakeholders in the transformation process and keeping lines of communication open and clear.

Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

  1. Data Management and Analytics

Data is the new oil in the digital era. Businesses can gather, arrange, and evaluate data from several sources by utilizing advanced data management systems. Today, strategic decisions are aided by the insightful information this data can offer on consumer behavior, industry trends, and operational effectiveness, making decision-making less risky. For instance, Tesco uses consumer data to better target their marketing campaigns and boost sales, while Tesla uses data to better understand consumer behavior and enhance their products. By analyzing data, companies can make informed decisions that enhance their competitive edge and foster growth.

2. Process Automation

Automating repetitive tasks can significantly improve efficiency and reduce errors. This not only saves time but also allows employees to focus on more complex and creative tasks. For instance, Wenn, a small Norwegian startup, has reduced the time it takes to detect car damage from 15 minutes to 6 seconds through business process automation (BPA). Similarly, Audi has automated approval requests, and Adidas has automated supplier onboarding. These examples highlight how automation can streamline operations and boost productivity.

3. Customer Experience Enhancement

The customer experience can be improved using digital technologies by providing smooth, customized interactions. Businesses that prioritize the consumer experience include Apple, Netflix, Starbucks, and Amazon. For instance, by giving consumers a new method of finding accommodation when traveling, Airbnb has completely transformed the hospitality sector. E-commerce platforms on the other hand enhanced the shopping experience and increased customer loyalty by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver customized product recommendations based on a client’s browsing history and preferences.

4. Cybersecurity Measures

Businesses are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks as they become more digital. Adequate cybersecurity procedures must be put in place in order to safeguard sensitive data and uphold client confidence. It is recommended that businesses use firewalls to restrict undesirable network traffic, utilize Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to privatize their network connections, employ anti-virus and anti-malware software, and use secure passwords. By protecting data and systems from cyberattacks, these steps assist maintain business continuity and reliability.

5. Employee Training and Engagement

A company’s digital transformation involves more than simply technology — it involves people. For a digital transition to be effective, personnel must receive training to improve their digital abilities. Having an innovative culture also motivates staff members to offer suggestions and take charge of the change process. For instance, Hyatt has established a culture in which staff members experience empowerment, respect, and a sense of belonging to something greater than themselves. Companies can promote innovation and involvement by providing courses on the use of digital tools and setting up forums where staff members can exchange ideas and criticism.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

It takes an environment that promotes creativity and risk-taking to establish an innovative culture. Businesses should give staff members the chance to try out new concepts, create programs for ongoing education, and value creativity. At SAFC, we promote cross-functional cooperation, wherein varied teams collaborate on projects while incorporating a range of viewpoints and concepts. In addition, we facilitate professional growth and offer venues for staff members to present and apply their creative ideas. This strategy increases employee satisfaction and engagement while also promoting creativity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Jeff Bezos once said, “Be stubborn on vision, but flexible on details.” This quote, which highlights the value of having a clear, firm vision while remaining flexible in the process, is one of my favorite life lesson quotes. When I joined SAFC, my vision expanded to encompass digital transformation on a larger scale. There were times when projects didn’t go as planned or market conditions shifted. Staying focused on our goals to drive innovation and improve processes kept me grounded. At the same time, being open to adjust strategies ensured we could still move forward and achieve our objectives. This balance of firm vision and flexible execution has been a guiding principle in my professional journey.

How can our readers further follow your work?

To follow my work, you can just connect of follow my LinkedIn profile, where I regularly share insights on digital transformation, SEO strategies, and process optimization. To stay updated on our latest projects and initiatives at SAFC, they can just visit our website or follow our Facebook page

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.