Giving Back to the Community in Our Home Away From Home

Team photo from L - R: Jules de Winter, Maud Vaessen, Rozemarijn Rischen, Ernst de Groot
Name: Ernst de Groot
Role: Field Research Intern with Philips
Location: From the Netherlands to Myanmar

 

Experiencing Philips’ Values

 

I have always thought of Philips as an innovative and progressive company that focuses on producing a positive impact on society, and it was during my trip to Myanmar that I truly got to see and partake in these values of the organisation.

An Eye-opening Experience

 

You may hear employee stories about how Philips products are bringing new solutions to the table, or how our work in the company is serving a greater purpose, but it really is a whole different experience when you find yourself conducting field research in a rural environment in Kyangin and having open and warm conversations with the people living there. That was my favourite part of the trip. They told me about their beliefs, culture and worries, and their opinions were essential to our team’s research of the market. We were inspired and expanded our perception beyond the urban city of Yangon. During our trip, we visited all facilities in the primary healthcare network of that region, such as township hospitals and health care centres, and spoke with various community members to get a clearer idea of the challenges they were facing, and the needs of the healthcare system that Philips could address.

 

Overcoming Challenges

 

The expedition was not without bumps in the road, of course. The data that we had to collate had to come from various sources which were not all available, leaving us with incomplete datasets. We had to search for alternative sources, then validate that data to make it relevant to the research. It was a challenge we had foreseen, but actually dealing with it meant changing project timelines and scope.

It was the first time I worked on a project of such magnitude! I’ve worked on small projects and business cases during my studies, but taking on a task like this was a whole different ball game. I saw how tangible the impact of having a good plan was - the end goal would help and make an impact on a community. I saw that I was working on a project not for myself, but for others, and that changed my motivations and gave me a different sense of responsibility.

 

Giving back to Emerging Economies

 

Our project was part of a bigger plan, the Community Life Center programme: a concept Philips developed to enter the primary healthcare market in emerging economies, by improving the current healthcare system and the continuum of care in the whole chain. On this trip, I got a first-hand experience of how Philips is really focusing on long-term improvement of these markets’ systems, instead of just entering for short-term commercial interest. The legitimacy and effectiveness of the project was proven by how NGOs were keen to take part in the programme. I’m glad to see such initiatives being undertaken by big companies such as Philips, and being a part of it is certainly something I can be proud of.

 

A Warm Welcome and Helping Hands

 

The entire experience was made more memorable thanks to the Philips team in Myanmar. As soon as we stepped into the office in Yangon, we felt welcome. The diverse team there showed great interest and enthusiasm, going the extra mile to make us feel at home in an environment that was new to us. They ensured that we were educated on both the Philips and healthcare system in Myanmar, and also enlightened us on Burmese culture and values. Over the weeks, the team was always there to help us when we needed them. We also received guidance from the Singapore office, especially from Bruno Occhipinti, Director of Strategy and New Business Development at Philips APAC, who flew to Myanmar for a week to help us structure the project. Later, Bruno and other Philips Community Life Center experts all over the world, took time out to join our weekly update calls to assist us in every way they could.

 

This sheer amount of support and the close-knit relationships of our Philips colleagues led us to produce great results from the project, far exceeding our team’s expectations.

 

Memories for the Keeping

 

My understanding of Myanmar’s history deepened during my trip there. It was an amazing seven weeks, and definitely an experience that my team-mates and I will not forget. More importantly, I am greatly appreciative of the chance to be able to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Burmese people, and being able to help Philips contribute towards the betterment of the lives of the people in Myanmar.