The Leaders' Corner

The Man At The Helm of Gardenia

BY: Pancho Adelberto Hubilla • Jun 05, 2017

“Leadership is not wielding authority – it is empowering people.” – Becky Brodin


A business endeavor earns when it provides the market needs. It grows and expands when it foresees the market’s future needs and responsive enough to what were anticipated. However, multiple textbooks are available on how to determine the future needs and so with how and what should the timely responses must be. We would risk saying that it takes intellectual maturity, ground zero gut feel, and dynamic modifications of processes to be ahead of Tomas, Dencio, and Andres who read the similar vault files. The business outcome validates our enunciated proposition.

Gardenia Bakeries Philippines Inc. posted 4.07 B Php net sales for 2015.


The Leader

Mr. Simplicio P. Umali Jr or Jun the President and General Manager of Gardenia Bakeries Philippine Inc. had adopted two innovative marketing concepts that he himself designed. The first concept is for definition of communication strategy for purposes of marketing that he codified as FREES referring to:


F – Functional (quality features)  

R – Rational (quality justifications)

E – Emotional (fun, pleasure, imagery)

E – Engaging and Experiential (uniqueness, shareability, connection, popularity)

S – Self Expressive (descriptive of personality, achievement, esteem)


When you are trying to communicate a product to the market, you follow the process of FREES.  Offer to the consumer something that is functional, which is the feature of the products and the benefits so that they will be satisfied, that is rational. Relatively, people want more, so you need additional values to satisfy their emotions.  For higher level of satisfaction, experience and expression, come in.

The second is market penetration strategy that he refers to as ‘Jar-Full Concept’. The concept states that to fill a jar, first place golf balls, then add pebbles and sand, and fill with water to make the jar full. Subsequently find another jar to fill. The principle applies to product introduction, geographic expansion, and other marketing efforts.

Mr. Jun Umali had his academic preparations from the University of the Philippines through a baccalaureate degree of BSBA with double major in Finance and Marketing and a graduate course of Masters in Business Administration.

He joined Gardenia Bakeries Philippines Inc. in 1999 during the second year of its operations. Gardenia then has a total value of 175M Php. The company is valued at 3.5B Php as of 2013.

Prior to Gardenia, Mr. Jun Umali worked with seven other multinational corporations and occupied various managerial and executive positions with Dutch Boy Philippines Inc. as the last where he was the President and CEO.

His socio-civic activities revolve around being the President of the Laguna International Industrial Park Assn. Inc., (LIIPA) and membership to several industry organizations and business fora in the mold of Makati Business Club, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Wallace Business Forum to cite a few.

Some of the recognitions he received in his community involvements were the Philippine Marketing Association 2011 Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management, Outstanding Alumnus Award for 2011 by the UP College of Business Administration, and the Vocational Service Leadership Award for 2014 by the Rotary International.


The Family Man and Friend

The Corporate was honored to meet Mr. Jun Umali the private person. He intimated to us a couple of things in his youth that he felt needed to be strengthened. First is the reason why he had double major in his baccalaureate degree. He took up finance because he was weak with numbers and that was his way to shore up his recognized weak side. He also disclosed that in his high school days he was shy as a person. He took up theater acting to overcome his shyness because in that milieu the lights were usually dim and he could deliver his parts without being embarrassed. The acting exposures gave him the opportunity to be with the great directors in the likes of Lino Brocka, Mario J Delos Reyes, and Soxy Topacio. The Corporate says that it is nice that Mr. Jun Umali did not totally overcome his shyness because today we may have a good theater actor but Gardenia would definitely miss the acumen of an effective businessman.

He is a total family man. He has three kids and a proud granddad to his two grandchildren. His joys are the opportunities that he could be home early, have dinner with his family, and of course the movie nights. We were told that Mr. Jun Umali traded his golf schedules so that he could dedicate more time with his family.

He handles his corporate duties and family life in a way that these shall be reciprocal though appropriate insights of the things that matters. He sees to it that his family would understand the things that he values at work by occasionally bringing them to the Gardenia plant while he regularly invites people from Gardenia for house dinners and get togethers at his family home We venture to say that basic friendship and human understanding contribute to his management effectiveness.    

He is a part-time faculty for the past twenty-three years of De La Salle University where he teaches marketing subjects for both the undergraduate and graduate schools. Teaching is his passion and it is his aspiration that he may help people through the sharing of competencies.

Mr. Jun Umali dreams big for his company and it is pretty sure that the people in Gardenia collectively work for the attainment of their common aspirations.      

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