Rowel and his family
Rowel’s family celebrating his win in Cagayan De Oro City

Rowel’s story is an amazing testament to the Filipino’s unwavering faith and resilience and one of grit, tenacity to succeed, and capacity to identify and maximize opportunities. “My family was very poor,” he recalls. “I had to work at a very young age to help my family. My siblings and I used to draw water from the well and walk six kilometers carrying the heavy container so we can sell it.”

The Elleveras live in Cagayan de Oro. Their widowed mother provided for the needs of all 10 children. Money and food was hard to come by and eventually, only Rowel persisted on taking the long walk to school. But even he succumbed to youth’s temptations and got into brawls that earned him a juvenile delinquency record.

Rowel says God used his mother’s unrelenting love for him and his siblings as an eye opener during this dark moment in his life. “One day, I realized I wanted to try harder and be better for my mother, brothers and sisters, so I decided to change. God gave me a second chance,” he adds.

Rowel completed high school and two semesters of college before financial constraints forced him to stop and look for work to help feed his family.

It was not easy. Rowel experienced rejection from several companies and almost lost hope of ever finding a job. Then one day, his neighbor encouraged him to apply at Shell Baloy station in Cagayan de Oro, endorsing his application to April Twinkle Almirante-Corral, the site’s retailer.

“By God’s grace, I was hired immediately,” he shares. 

Rowel Ellevera of Shell Baloy, Cagayan De Oro City
Rowel Ellevera of Shell Baloy, Cagayan De Oro City

The Journey of a Champion

Rowel started as a forecourt attendant at the Shell Baloy station then worked as cashier before becoming the site supervisor and onsite coach.

“Rowel is very active and cooperative in all of the site’s initiatives. He shares his thoughts on how to improve operations and onsite customer experience. He is truly a role model to his colleagues,” notes Almirante-Corral.

“He remembers customers by name and treats them as important guests. He established telemarketing to let customers feel the value of their money by informing them of upcoming and ongoing promotions,” adds Arvin Obmerga, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation Retail District Manager for Mindanao. 

Rowel also initiated innovations in service. He is one of the authors of the site’s standard training module that develops staff competency and motivates them to focus on customers.

“I am very grateful that I have been given this opportunity to lead people despite my background and lack of education. I am at my best when I see my teammates become members of a competent and consistent workforce in the organization,” he says. 

Triumph of the Filipino

At 29, Rowel is Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation’s top performing Service Champion for 2016. He was honored during the Global Smiling Stars event held in New York. During the event, another Filipino, Erwin Dueñas, won the other top award – the 2016 Global Multi-Site Retailer of the Year award.

They lead a distinguished roster of winners, including two more Filipinos at the regional Smiling Stars event: Tisha Sugui for Regional District Manager of the Year and Francis Louie Karunungan for Regional Territory Manager of the Year.

At the global event, Rowel bested over 500,000 frontline Service Champions who touch the lives of 30 million customers daily from 43,000 global Shell stations. All nominees were required to pass Shell’s stringent judging process locally before qualifying for the regional and then the Shell Global Smiling Stars awards.

“The magic of this event is in the Service Champions who participated. They will go on to inspire and motivate other service champions just like them all over the world. Our competitive advantage is these champions – 50,000 Shell brand ambassadors in over 80 countries. No one can match that,” enthused Istvan Kapitany, Vice President for Shell Global Retail during the ceremony.

Chad Holliday, Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Group further stressed that Service Champions are crucial to the businesses’ success. “We are taking customer service to new levels of brilliance thanks to this dedicated, passionate team of forecourt heroes’ continued pride in the brand. It’s their unwavering commitment to making our customers feel delighted and surprised that’s being celebrated. They are true ambassadors of Shell.”

The annual Shell Smiling Stars highlights Royal Dutch Shell plc.’s commitment to continuously train and empower frontline employees, aptly recognize excellent performance in keeping customers happy and satisfied, and take care of its people through a global recognition program that inspires hundreds of thousands of empowered forecourt service champions.