An ode to a lifework

In Photo: 25-year service awardees: (from left) Gaudy Carandang, AVP Client Services Dept Head; Emmie Reyes, VP Finance and Administration Head; Patrick Fabie of Client Services Department; and Noel De Chavez, AVP Tech Infrastructure and Support Head

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Elmarie Reyes (then Elmarie Silvino), was looking for something that she couldn’t find in her previous employment. She had a lucrative job as a treasury manager, but she was also young and precocious and idealistic, nursing a gaping void in her work life and was always mooning over what’s outside the fence.

Reyes’s soul-searching eventually made her land a job as accounting supervisor in a then-fledgling company that is BancNet, undaunted by the challenges posed by the instability naturally faced by every company just about starting from the ground.

Starting in a cramped space wedged in the old Vernida Building right smack across Makati Sports Complex, BancNet was a tale as old as time, or at least as old as the era when parking was free at the then weekend ghost town otherwise called Ayala, Makati.

Having been with the company for 25-odd years, the certified public and management accountant is among BancNet’s second-generation pioneers, a 19-man workforce you could squeeze into a box the size of a coaster. The ATM consortium grew from 10 member-banks to more than 120, and Reyes was a part of that date in history when BancNet ushered in a revolution, a wholesale
transition to a new age.

“We watched BancNet grow,” said Reyes, who is now BancNet vice president and head of controllership and admin, and supervises BancNet’s General Accounting, Human Resources, Administration, Purchasing departments. “We were a part of it.”   Meanwhile, Client Support Specialist Patrick Fabie, who began his career at BancNet in 1992 as data center operator,recalls with nostalgia what people had to deal with in the limbo before BancNet, from limited and financially exclusive ATM cards and cardboard transaction receipts.

“As BancNet started as a regular ATM consortium and transitioned into a multi-channel, multi-payments network, unlike then, practically everything is cashless now—even “card-less”—because we have come to an age where Internet banking is the order of the day and, through BancNet, we can do our transactions securely through any ubiquitous platforms,” Fabie said.

“We didn’t do it sitting down. Being a part of BancNet’s second generation of employees, somehow we had the opportunity to shape the culture without following a precedent pattern,” Reyes said.

For a company whose aim is to integrate and innovate, the demands are exacting, but, according to Noel de Chavez, assistant vice president and head of tech infrastructure and information support department, it wasn’t the sort that starts at 8 am and ends promptly at 5 pm; it wasn’t as though people come to work like mindless sheep doing whatever it was that had to be done and they were tasked to do.

“It’s pure passion and hard work,” added Gaudencio Valentino Carandang, who started out in BancNet as a computer operator trainee and eventually head of Data Center Operations before he became the assistant vice president and head of client services department in the company’s business operations division. “Nothing is more fulfilling than going to work every day with a renewed purpose.”

“What BancNet sells is convenience through connectivity. We’re promoting a way of life, the daily challenge being ‘What else can we do with an ATM card’; we serve the banks that serve the public,” De Chavez said.

Asked about what made her stay put working for the company, Reyes echoed the same sentiment with her colleagues who have plodded on the mission that is everything that BancNet represents for a lifetime:

“We take the cudgels for financial inclusion by bringing financial technology to the countryside. To partake in that noble cause hinged on nation-building, that you have a sense of ‘belongingness’ working with people who believe what you believe, the feeling that you are not just a part of a team but something bigger, that’s probably why I find my job satisfying—that’s probably what I had been looking for.”