Jay Pegarido on Leadership in a Booming Philippine Tech Sector

Jay Pegarido’s extensive experience and leadership in international technology make him an excellent source for insights on digital innovation, tech talent development, and business strategies.

His journey from a local Filipino engineer to a global tech leader exemplifies the dynamic growth and potential of the Philippine tech industry.

A Distinguished Career

Jay Pegarido has carved out a distinguished career in the tech industry, marked by significant contributions to various international and local projects.

After graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, he began his career in Tokyo with Yamato System Development Co. His career trajectory includes pivotal roles in companies like Nu Skin Japan, Sprasia, Inc., Sprobe, Inc., and International Systems Research Co., where he established and managed operations in multiple countries.

In 2023, Jay took on the role of Director and Country Manager at Sansan in Cebu. Under his leadership, the company focuses on developing innovative products like the Bill One invoice management solution, contributing significantly to Sansan’s global expansion strategy.

His unique perspective as a Filipino leading a global development center provides a compelling narrative on the role of the Philippines in the global tech ecosystem. He is spearheading the push to hire 100 developers by the middle of this year.

Career Path and Leadership Journey

Reflecting on his career, Jay shares key milestones that have led him to his current position. He started as a web developer at Yamato System Development Co. in Tokyo, where he honed his technical skills and gained invaluable experience.

Over the years, he held various leadership roles, including managing operations in Singapore and Canada. Returning to the Philippines, he started and managed Sprobe Inc. (formerly Sprasia Philippines, Inc.) and later, International Systems Research Cebu Corp. These experiences equipped him with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead Sansan’s Global Development Center in Cebu.

Transitioning from a local engineer to a global tech leader involved overcoming cultural differences, language barriers, and adapting to different business practices.

Jay immersed himself in Japanese culture, improving his language skills and building a robust network, which provided invaluable support and insights. This adaptability and learning from each experience helped him develop a deeper understanding and respect for different perspectives, enabling him to lead effectively in the global tech landscape.

“By embracing adaptability and learning from each new experience, I developed a deeper understanding and respect for different perspectives, enabling me to lead effectively and empathetically in the global tech landscape,” he said.

Philippines Tech Sector: A Growing Hub

Reflecting on the past decade, Jay notes that the Philippine tech industry has seen remarkable growth, driven by a significant increase in IT graduates, improvements in infrastructure, and a rise in startups and tech hubs, particularly in cities like Cebu and Manila.

Government support through policies and initiatives has also played a crucial role in this growth, making the Philippines an attractive destination for tech investments.

Key factors driving innovation in the Philippine tech sector include a strong educational foundation in IT, a large pool of young and talented professionals, and a growing entrepreneurial spirit.

“Additionally, the increasing availability of advanced technologies, supportive government policies, and the presence of multinational tech companies contribute significantly to the sector’s dynamism and innovation,” he said.

Tech Talent Development at Sansan

Sansan is committed to nurturing tech talent through continuous training programs, mentorship, and hands-on project experience.

Jay emphasizes the company’s comprehensive onboarding process, regular skill enhancement workshops, and opportunities for engineers to propose and develop their own ideas. This approach not only enhances their technical abilities but also fosters creativity and innovation.

Unlike many tech companies in the Philippines that operate on a contract basis, Sansan empowers its engineers through full-time, long-term employment.

“This approach not only enhances their technical abilities but also fosters creativity and innovation. This level of autonomy and the opportunity to work on global products provide a unique and enriching professional growth experience.”

Driving Digital Transformation

Sansan’s Bill One invoice management solution is revolutionizing the digital transformation of businesses by digitizing and automating the entire invoicing process. This cloud-based solution helps businesses transition from manual, paper-based workflows to efficient, paperless operations.

By providing real-time data access and integration with other business systems, Bill One enhances operational efficiency and financial control, significantly reducing processing time and errors.

Jay identifies the main challenges companies face when shifting from traditional to digital processes, including resistance to change, lack of digital skills, and concerns about data security.

Companies can overcome these challenges by investing in employee training, choosing user-friendly digital solutions, and implementing robust cybersecurity measures. Clear communication about the benefits of digital transformation is also crucial in gaining buy-in from all stakeholders.

Global Expansion and Corporate Social Responsibility

Sansan’s global expansion strategy involves enhancing its product offerings to meet the needs of diverse markets and establishing development centers in strategic locations.

“The Cebu office plays a critical role by focusing on product development for global markets, leveraging local talent to drive innovation and customization of solutions like Bill One. This strategic positioning allows Sansan to respond quickly to regional demands and support its global operations effectively,” Jay said.

Corporate social responsibility is integral to Sansan’s business strategy.

“Corporate social responsibility is integral to Sansan’s business strategy; we believe in creating value not just for our clients but also for the communities and environments we operate in,” Jay said.

The “Scan for Trees” initiative, whereby a tree is planted for every document digitized using Sansan’s solutions, underscores the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability. This initiative not only helps reduce paper usage but also contributes to reforestation efforts, demonstrating Sansan’s dedication to making a positive environmental impact.

Bridging Cultures Between Japan and the Philippines

Jay serves as a vital bridge between the Japanese and Filipino teams, ensuring smooth and effective collaboration.

His deep understanding of both cultures allows him to mediate conflicts, foster mutual respect, and facilitate seamless collaboration.

“For instance, I emphasize the importance of discipline and meticulous attention to detail from the Japanese side, while also highlighting the creativity and flexibility of the Filipino approach. Being level-headed and objective, I listen to both sides and mediate any conflicts or misunderstandings, ensuring that all voices are heard and considered,” Jay explained.

“This fosters a sense of fairness and inclusivity, which is vital for harmonious collaboration. Additionally, I encourage regular cross-cultural training sessions and team-building activities to strengthen mutual respect and understanding.”

Filipino developers working at Sansan benefit from exposure to international work standards and practices, enhancing their technical and professional skills.

“This bicultural environment fosters a broader perspective, adaptability, and the ability to work effectively in global teams, which are invaluable assets in their professional growth,” Jay said.

Vision for the Future

Jay’s vision for Sansan in the Philippines is to establish the Cebu office as a premier hub for innovation and product development, contributing significantly to the global tech ecosystem.

“By leveraging the local talent pool and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation, I aim to make Sansan a key player in the global tech landscape, driving digital transformation and creating impactful solutions.”

In the next five years, Jay foresees the tech landscape in the Philippines becoming more robust and competitive, with continued investment in education, infrastructure, and innovation attracting more international tech firms and startups.

“The growth of tech hubs and the increasing focus on digital transformation will position the Philippines as a significant contributor to the global tech industry.”

Personal Motivation and Leadership Insights

As a leader, Jay is motivated by the opportunity to drive positive change and support his team’s growth. He inspires his team by leading by example, setting clear goals, and fostering an environment of open communication and trust.

“As a leader, I am motivated by the opportunity to drive positive change and support my team’s growth, embodying both the Filipino spirit of “bayanihan” and the Japanese principle of “HouRenSou” (reporting, communicating, and consulting).”

By investing in their personal and professional development, Jay encourages his team to strive for excellence and reach their full potential, blending the resilience and warmth of Filipino culture with the discipline and meticulousness of Japanese work ethics.

Reflecting on his experiences and mentors, Jay credits his time in Japan and the mentorship he received there as significantly influencing his leadership style.

The Japanese principle of “HouRenSou” (reporting, communicating, and consulting) has shaped his approach to leadership, emphasizing clear communication, thorough reporting, and proactive consultation.

“It instilled in me the habit of keeping all stakeholders informed, ensuring transparency, and fostering a collaborative environment where feedback and consultation are integral to decision-making. I learned to stay level-headed and objective, especially when making decisions and resolving conflicts. Listening to all perspectives before making decisions ensures fairness and inclusivity. Mentorship also played a significant role in shaping my leadership style.”

Advice to Aspiring Tech Leaders

To young Filipino engineers and aspiring tech leaders, Jay advised embracing continuous learning, developing strong communication and teamwork skills, and seeking mentorship.

He emphasized the importance of staying updated with the latest technological trends, engaging in hands-on projects, and maintaining a proactive approach to learning and professional development.

“In this rapidly evolving landscape, it’s crucial to continuously skill up and stay updated with the latest trends and technologies. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit, and investing in your education and professional development can open doors to new opportunities,” he said.

Jay also encouraged aspiring tech leaders to embrace change, challenge themselves, and continually reinvent themselves. By staying resilient, proactive, and adaptable, they can thrive in the rapidly evolving tech landscape and achieve their full potential.

“One of Sansan’s values: Don’t fear change and challenge yourself. Instead of fearing change, see it as an opportunity for growth and development. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and take on new experiences. By acquiring new skills, you not only enhance your value but also boost your confidence and adaptability. Keep on reinventing yourself.”


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