What does “work” mean for you?
Is it a way of living? Means for financial security? A purely career-driven activity? A place of labor? An exertion of toil and effort?
The common no-frills attitude is to treat work as simply work — nothing more, nothing less.
John Rhey Josef, a Practice Manager for 3 years now, shared a similar sentiment when he entered Via Appia Philippines, Inc. (VA) 11 years ago. Despite his perfectly valid and normal perspective, John’s outlook towards his work’s significance changed. He went from treating his job as a mere instrument to sustain his family’s needs to a channel meant to fulfill his life’s purpose.
We tell the inspiring tale of how John achieved this transition with the help of his organization, Via Appia. This is the story of how building trust creates and embraces purpose.
Q: Why did you choose to work for Via Appia?
J: I struggled to look for a job because I don’t have a college degree. It put me in a mindset that I must always take opportunities seriously so that I can have a job that will last. My goal is to have a stable job that would put food on the table for my family.
Note: Q = Question, J = John Rhey Josef
There’s absolutely no shame in John’s view of his work then. There is, however, a possible struggle. The tendency is to be susceptible to meaningless grooves that can rob the joy out of life. Day in, day out — work, work, work.
John was the first to admit this, “Before Appia, I felt that everything was just a routine. You work, you get paid, and the loop goes on.”
It’s important to note a keyword in John’s statement, “before”. Things slowly took a turn for a more purposeful journey when he encountered genuineness and trust in his workplace.
John’s transition to securing more purpose in work was not something that happened overnight. It’s all thanks to the slow but steady and intentional relationship-building of VA’s CEO, Richard Leoncio, or as he’s fondly called by his associates, Sir Rich.
John was a doting mentee as he recounted their boss’ significant impact on his life, “Sir Rich mentored us in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. As our boss, he showed us how to be a leader by intentionally building a relationship with us — and he did it slowly.”
His experience makes sense in this trust-to-purpose narrative because fostering trust is impossible without the proper foundation of genuine companionship.
Just like how the CEO was quick to forgive and reassure John when he committed a grave mistake at work, without a meaningful connection between the two parties, an exchange of trust wouldn’t be possible.
It is within the walls of these built relationships that employees like John found a safe space and trusted that they could bring their whole selves to work. And in return? ‘Sir Rich’ was able to bring more positive influence to their lives.
Another individual who significantly contributed to John’s sense of purpose was his immediate supervisor, Kathryn Leoncio.
Kath brought a unique perspective in work relationships and balance to Richard’s influence, helping to shape John’s purpose and character within the workplace.
“An area of leadership is influencing, and you want to be able to make people follow your lead not because of your authority but because of trust. An essential aspect of building trust is through intimacy (relationships).” – Kathryn Leoncio, Director of Professional Services at Via Appia Philippines, Inc.
The CEO’s impact on John’s personal life was indubitable when he said, “Every week, we would have our regular Bible study. We talked about anything and everything. Our topics are broad, and sometimes, it leads to financial discussion. This braced me for the series of unfortunate events that followed in my life.”
Lo and behold, tribulations came one after another. In 2014, his wife gave birth to premature twin daughters who were placed in the infamously expensive NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). He desperately worried about his children’s survival and the mounting credit card bill that peaked at nearly P300,000.
Shortly after, his small business venture failed. On top of that, incarceration loomed large on his mind as he was no longer able to cover the vehicle he loaned for the said business. As per John, these moments were “an additional cause of worry, anxiety, and depression.”
It was no surprise that John eventually felt lost and downhearted. Who wouldn’t be?
As the saying goes though, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Miraculously, his children survived without the need for intubation, and his debts were cleared! What helped him mightily overcome? It was his religious faith that wouldn’t have been developed without his boss’ influence in his life.
“He is the one who leads us with our faith, which in return results in us having a purposeful journey towards our personal goals.” – John Rhey Josef on their CEO, Richard Leoncio
Through and through, we see how trust is weaved through not only John’s experiences at work but also his personal matters — and he was well aware of this. John saw and actually lived the positive effects of his superior’s genuineness to care for his employees — and this led to a bigger purpose at work and even in life.
Trust Turned to Purpose
Q: Do you think it’s possible to find your purpose at work?
J: Yes, like in Via Appia, we put God at the center of our business. This allows us to do [things] that are beyond work. VA helped us to find what we are passionate about. They help us live a life that aligns with what we value and what matters to us. They also develop skills we never thought we had.
Q: To the best of your ability, what is your purpose in life?
J: To be able to share experiences and encourage younger generations to live and enjoy in accordance with God’s will. This is in relation to how we should we submit ourselves and be obedient to God’s commandments.
Note: Q = Question, J = John Rhey Josef
“When you have established relationships with members, and they are open to sharing their problems or struggles, you can influence members to thrive and be the best at what they do. It is a fulfilling yet a difficult task since I need to show them how to be a role model.” – John Rhey Josef, Practical Manager at Via Appia Philippines, Inc.
“One of John’s team members underwent a personal problem which led the person to leave Manila and isolate himself in the province… Together with John’s Practice Lead [team], they drove all the way to the province to personally check on their team member.
This resulted in their team member coming back to Manila and working on his personal issues. I am impacted by this event as it showed genuine care for his [John’s] team, which is necessary to build a solid team and foster a culture of selflessness and accountability.” – Kathryn Leoncio, Director of Professional Services at Via Appia Philippines, Inc.
If there’s anything these short excerpts from our conversation with Josh and his manager, Kathryn, reflect, it is a testament to his transformed outlook on what work is for. It’s no longer the initial mindset of financial stability and the usual routine obligations, but a greater sense of purpose to build authentic relationships that go beyond work, positively influence the next generation through intentional leadership, and serve his god through his career.
John’s story is also a timely reminder that small, conscious efforts produce BIG wins — most especially when it comes from management. This is only possible with people-first leaders — those that are fostered in high-trust workplace cultures such as the ones found in Great Place To Work® Certified™ companies like Via Appia.
Via Appia Philippines, Inc. is a Great Place to Work Certified company! Click here to view their Certification Profile.