It all starts with a dream. That’s what they said. True enough, life has a way of manifesting dreams into reality. In tech, everyone is wide awake when dreaming. They witness change as it happens. More often than not, the future of tech unfolds itself into where it wants to lead us, one solution at a time.
To Cris P. Gamboa, IT Group, Inc. president and CEO, he saw the vision of tech in his dreams. With a passion for innovating through technology, Cris ventures ahead to forge the future he wants to see.
“I’ve always dreamed of becoming a coder who will be part of solving the world’s problems. I have always been fascinated by technology and how it will transform the way we live and work,” he said. “I started coding at the age of 14 and decided at that time that I would involve myself in technology. My impatience in getting things done was probably the trait that kept my desire to be in tech and my belief that it will be able to better humanity.”
Dreams turned into reality as Gamboa is the leader of one of the leading IT Solutions companies in the ASEAN region, the IT Group, Inc. or ITG. The company provides interconnected IT solutions to all businesses, helping them to grow and succeed in the ever-evolving IT industry. However, the success didn’t happen overnight. Gamboa shared his fair share of stories about how he ventured ahead to fulfill his lifelong dream of helping others through technology.
Venture Ahead: Cris Gamboa in his university days
“Back in those days, computers were not as pervasive. Tech wasn’t [even] popular during the mid-90s. Windows 95 was recently born and wasn’t good for anything except preparing documents or spreadsheets. But after the Y2K bug disrupted computing—both mainframes and personal computers—I realized that industries have started to adopt and to depend on computers,” he said.
As the vision reveals itself to Gamboa, the journey of venturing together has yet to happen. Although he’s part of a family that values entrepreneurship, Gamboa took the long road and humbled himself first with the process. Little did he know this would help him to embrace change and innovation in his life.
Venture Ahead: Cris Gamboa in the early days of his career
“I started working with the Management Information System (MIS) department while I was in my second year in the university and finishing my degree in computer science. We built software to automate the data entry and reporting for our accounting and treasury department,” he said. “After finishing [the] university, I joined a software company doing pre-sales work, and a year later, I joined the family enterprise and worked as a sales agent for industrial materials. These two work experiences expanded my perspective on enterprising.”
Although Gamboa revealed that it wasn’t his initial goal to pursue business in IT, the opportunity presented itself as the time was already right for him to venture together.
“I had no experience in starting or running a business, even though I came from a family of business people. I only had a lot of training and experience in leadership from my scouting days in high school, which helped me start up. Running a business without proper business training was a humbling and enriching experience for me,” he said.
As entrepreneurship runs in the family, Gamboa received a warm welcome for his business proposal. With the help of the MIS Manager from their company, partnering with a few esteemed colleagues and friends, the first venture together happened. Though his family agreed to invest in the spin-off of the IT department and make it a company, Gamboa considered it an official business partnership and took it as a challenge to fulfill his vision.
“Building reputation is the hardest part of any venture building. As a new entrant, we had no brand and name recognition, no track record, and no credibility. To this day, we are very thankful to our first few customers who trusted to work with us,” he said.
Like other companies that started from scratch, ITG has inspiring stories of winning, losing, and conquering obstacles over the years.
“There are many unforgettable moments we have. Our first win was our first customer outside of our family enterprise. They gave us the confidence to venture ahead. We needed [that] validation [for ourselves] to continue as the software we’ve built was not only usable but, more so, added value to our client. It brought us the succeeding wins. In one year, our small office could no longer hold the new employees we hired to support the [new and upcoming] projects,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gamboa emphasized that business is not always filled with butterflies and rainbows as they experienced, too, their first heartbreak of losing. He reminds everyone to always listen carefully to clients because customer satisfaction is everything—above all. It was a teaching moment for the team as they improved their ways moving forward.
“The secret behind any success is discipline. We kept progressing to our present-day business scope and size because we were committed and disciplined in our approach to making decisions and choosing our growth opportunities. Strategy is not just about selecting what to do, but also what not to do,” he said.
Venture into the New
As the company celebrates its 20th year in the industry, Gamboa shared his wisdom and life lessons as he and ITG venture into the new.
“Technologies will change, and industries will evolve, but I’ve learned one of the greatest lessons in this business. Finding the right partner is the best [decision and] investment you could ever make. With the right people and partners, you can withstand many trials, and that’s why we are here today,” he said.
When asked how he conquered to venture into a new culture, business partners, and companies, Gamboa has an interesting expansion experience to tell. “I did not plan on expanding through merging or acquiring other companies. Despite many uncertainties, the entrepreneurial instinct in me drove me to go. It was a challenging process, bringing together two companies and working together as one, but the situation tested and redefined our culture,” he said.
Pandemic Woes: ITG during the global lockdown
Gamboa also remembered the year 2020 when the world had to stop and put everyone into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our people are the greatest asset of our company. We treat them like a family. Without a doubt, it was clear to me that family must come first. Their safety was our top priority during the pandemic. Aside from the immediate response of moving our employees to a safe environment, we also provided medical, financial, emotional, and mental support. It is our way of protecting and taking care of our people,” he said.
For him, it was a wake-up call of what’s really important in life and business. It gave him new perspectives to put balance in taking care of his people while future-proofing the company.
“We value our people so that they can value our customers. ITG adds value to our clients by how we work and co-create solutions that fit and are tailored to their business needs. Our people have a deep understanding of this,” he said. “We keep true to our mission of helping our customers use technology, and I’m beyond grateful for the [continued] partnership and commitment for two decades.”
The 20th Anniversary Celebration of ITG
For the past 20 years, the success of ITG is not without cost. Gamboa was filled with gratitude as he honored all employees, business partners, and clients who sacrificed and worked with them through thick and thin. Today, ITG is an ISO 9001:2015 Certified company with four regional offices located in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, helping 200+ clients throughout the region on their digital transformation journey and has a solid portfolio of 250+ successful projects.
As Gamboa looked back, he had an epiphany, a full-circle moment. From a simple dream of a boy helping others through technology to a man turned leader of one of the leading IT solution partners in the ASEAN region, Cris Gamboa and ITG are ready to venture into the new era of technology. “In my dream, I saw ITG grow even better. I simply envision ITG helping our society venturing together with the use of technology,” he ended.