Max’s Group, Inc. (MGI), the largest casual dining restaurant group in the Philippines, is proud to announce the promotions of Christopher “Sonny” Tiong and Mark De Joya to its executive leadership team. Tiong, a goal-oriented decision maker with a penchant for customer engagement and deep expertise in sales, trade marketing, and operations, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the company’s international imports Krispy Kreme and Jamba Juice; while De Joya, a life-long marketing strategist and problem-solver, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of the group’s flagship brand Max’s Restaurant. Both Tiong and De Joya bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge having worked in various industries in and outside the food industry, including pharmaceuticals, technology, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), and advertising.
Tiong started at GlaxoSmithKline where he honed his skills in sales and marketing for nearly a decade. He then made a bold leap to the FMCG industry where he held lighthouse leadership positions in channels, sales, and trade management across different beverage categories for such global and local companies as Coca-Cola, Universal Robina Corporation, Fonterra, and Vitasoy. Prior to his new appointment, he served as Operations Director for Krispy Kreme, Jamba Juice, and Yellow Cab Pizza Co.
“I’ve always looked for diverse experiences because I saw it as my best chance to learn the fastest and continuously improve. With my new role in Max’s Group, I’m excited to share this mindset of continuous learning to help the company adapt and respond to whatever comes our way. The appreciation of the fact that what works today may not necessarily work tomorrow is something that needs to be alive in every organization,” said Tiong.
De Joya, on the other hand, has been with MGI since 2017 and has amassed nearly two decades of marketing experience working with respected industry leaders the likes of global FMCG company Unilever, international advertising network McCann Worldgroup, and technology giants Samsung and Huawei. A consumer-first thinker, he comes into the role with a deft outlook on the different core business functions and how each has evolved within the restaurant industry and changing consumer world.
“Through the years, we’ve seen that a lot of lines tend to get blurred between functions. What used to be just the job of marketing, operations, or research and development now often blends together under one integrated lens. As COO, I see this as an opportunity for me to connect the dots between my marketing and communications experience with deep commercial acumen to solve human problems and create valuable programs and systems for the people and customers of one of the most iconic brands in the Philippines,” said De Joya.
While continuing to be guided by members of the founding Trota and Fuentebella families, and incumbent Group Chief Operating Officer Ariel Fermin, the two demonstrate MGI’s forward-thinking approach to embedding within itself a diverse group of industry experts and professionals whose varying backgrounds are suited to help the company realize continued business evolution in 2021 and beyond. This mindset goes back to the values of continuity and renewal that have guided Max’s Group in navigating the uncertain waters of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to the constantly changing nature of the food business landscape. Balancing continuity and renewal means understanding that there is still a lot to learn from how things were done in the past while keeping an open mind to new insights from outside experiences and expertise.
“Our strength, hope, and inspiration will always lie in what the founding families have built. We will continue to actively borrow from their wisdom, while also reinventing new contexts that are consistent with and respectful of their values,” affirms De Joya.
“Having been around for more than 75 years, there is a wealth of generational knowledge to be mined from the Trotas and Fuentebellas,” adds Tiong. “It is important to honor that, while at the same time, as we brave the new realities of the business, there is a lot of insight to be had from outside experiences and expertise.”
Among the primary growth drivers at Max’s Group is a refreshed focus on engagement and transformation. Both De Joya and Tiong appreciate working in an industry with a closer line to the customer as it offers their brands a unique opportunity to directly serve the products they create and see the joy that comes from serving a well-prepared meal—whether it’s the perfect fried chicken, the most delightful doughnut, or a healthful smoothie. This allows them to cut through the layers with ease and better identify the many nuances and trends that help them translate their operations in a manner that is relevant and responsive to the needs of customers and the local experience: from thinking of new, original innovations that are consistent with the joy in every bite of Krispy Kreme, creating more access to the healthy lifestyle experience through every sip of Jamba Juice, or inventing new channels and consumption occasions of Filipino cuisine beyond the four walls of Max’s Restaurant.
The pace and willpower that Max’s Group has demonstrated in remodelling the strategies of its different businesses, while staying aligned to a single unified vision, has allowed the company to successfully squeeze three years of strategy into three quarters of execution. Looking ahead, a clear path has been laid out for the group and its portfolio of well-loved brands across the different pillars of each business—from operations, finances, customers, and more. MGI, with the appointments of De Joya and Tiong, ably partnered with John Amante as Chief Operating Officer for other powerhouse Max’s Group brands Yellow Cab Pizza Co. and Pancake House, is confidently taking continued steps towards realizing its vision of building the most-loved brands in the Philippines.
“We are excited to have both Mark and Sonny come in and play larger roles in our Max’s Group family. As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we are committed to continue diversifying our leadership team with experts and professionals whose experiences go beyond the food industry and pair that with our family’s wealth of knowledge to help us realize our growth plans and future-proof the business. With their proven track records and extensive backgrounds, we are confident that Mark and Sonny will be invaluable members to our executive team,” said Robert Ramon F. Trota, President & Chief Executive Officer, Max’s Group, Inc.