1. Introduce yourself and introduce your Company.
I am Gonzalo Ferreiros, Regional Director for Southeast Asia at Eptisa. Eptisa is a multinational consulting engineering firm that provides technical services in various infrastructure sectors (water, transportation, environment, energy, buildings and socioeconomic development). In Southeast Asia we have worked in the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
2. What made you / your company come to the Philippines?
In 2013, I proposed to the management a more strategic approach to develop Southeast Asia market.The market had great opportunities, even more than other countries where we were already present. Since then, I prepared a business plan and I was in charge of executing it. Such plan was clear about the fact that Eptisa would need to establish a corporate platform in the Region, for which I chose Philippines as the regional hub. In 2016, we created Eptisa Philippines which serves as center for our Southeast Asian operations.
3. What year did you arrive and how has the country changed since then?
I moved to Manila in 2015. Since then, the growth of the economy has translated into visible development both from a infrastructure (more malls, more business and residential districts, etcetera) and business perspective, mainly promoted by the private sector. Another distinct point is how popular and accessible the country has become a tourist destination.
4. How has your professional career or your company´s career developed since you have been in the Philippines?
Before 2017, our operations in the Philippines were a one-man show (me), with a couple of small projects that were implemented between 2014 and 2016. However, from 2017 our business took off, with several major projects in the water sector. Eptisa Philippines now employs more than 20 full-time staff, with plans to keep growing.
5. Do you think that doing business is nowadays easier or more complicated than before?
The Philippines is an exciting market with great prospects and opportunities and it has made a lot of progress in facilitating a more thriving business environment. However, there is still a number of difficulties that hopefully will be sorted out soon, particularly procurement and bureaucracy in the public sector, as well as tax regulations and other limitations to do business for foreign firms.
6. How has the Filipino consumer changed during all the years that passed by?
We do not deal with end-user of our project. Our clients are corporations, government and International Financial Institutions (ADB, World Bank, among others). I would say there is a better appreciation for consulting services and the value we provide for our clients, although sometimes it is difficult to translate that appreciation into willingness to pay for our services!
7. What has been your most difficult challenge since you are here?
The growing competition. When we entered the market in 2014, there were many companies leaving the Philippines because the market was slow, and now many more have entered the market to participate both in government and private market.
8. In all these years, what are you most proud of?
By far, the amazing team full of great people that we have built in the Region.
9. Lastly, please tell us an anecdote you will never forget about the Philippines
Rather than an anecdote, I would share a few memories to show that Manila has more potential than most people think outside its business districts. First is a lazy cool Sunday when my wife and I decided to go for lunch at Henry Hotel in Pasay, the chilliest nostalgic spot in Metro Manila, and then walked on Roxas Boulevard (when there was not construction, and the water slightly less polluted) all the way up to Harbor View, probably the most real sunset experience in town. Another memory is our wedding party, which involved a boat ride on the Pasig River from Makati to Intramuros, followed by an epic party at Baluarte San Diego. Finally, the many Escolta Block Parties, in Binondo, Manila, which are the utmost celebration of the Metro’s young and lively urban character.