From Chemical Engineer to Mother of the BPO Industry: Karen Batungbacal (Global FWN100™ '14) Shines On


Today, there is no doubt that the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry is one of the biggest contributors to the growth the Philippines’ has achieved today. Aside from employing over one million Filipinos in the last 10 years, it made up 6.9% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, close to beating the 8.5% percent contribution from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remittances from the same year.

It has raked in billions of dollars in foreign investments, and has attracted the biggest BPO companies of the world to set up camp here: Accenture and Transcom, just to name two. The Philippines is slated to overtake India, currently the world’s BPO capital. Despite the stigma of a headset-donning keyboard-rapping call center agent — that’s only a fraction of working in a BPO company — you can’t fight the facts: the BPO industry has changed the entire employment landscape of the Philippines, and the way the world sees our country. We are used to business leaders dominated by men. We think Bill Gates, not Arianna Huffington; Ramon Ang, not Tessie Coson. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if you imagined that behind the meteoric rise of the BPO industry in the Philippines was a cabal of imposing men in suits and barongs, calling the shots from their throne-like swivel chairs. But imagine this: among that cabal is a graceful woman, standing no more than five feet tall, wearing a jade pencil dress, a petite blazer, and a string of pearls around her neck. If you had seen her walking around Rockwell with a purse or a clutch bag, you wouldn’t think twice about calling her just another Tita of Manila. Meet Karen Batungbacal: the mother of the Philippine BPO Industry.

A Day In The Life of Karen Batungbacal

Currently, Karen is the Executive General Manager of the QBE Group Shared Services Centre, the strategic hub of international insurance and reinsurance company QBE Group Insurance based in Australia. Since she took on the role in 2013, she has grown the Manila and Cebu offices from zero employees to at least 2,800 employees and counting. She is effectively running the entire Philippine branch of the company.

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Story from Kalibrr.