From the entire Aboitiz Group, thank you Gilda, Carl, Andoni, and Tito for the legacy you have built in Aboitiz. Now, more than ever, enjoy the best years ahead of you.
I would like to introduce myself. I am Gilda L. Niere. I’ve been in Aboitiz since Aboitiz Juan Luna pa there in Cebu, moved to Banilad, Cebu, and here in Taguig.
Ma’am Melinda will always tell us, “Pag-master mo sa inyong trabaho para hapsay ang inyong trabaho.”
To my friendships there in Aboitiz Banilad Cebu, to my friendships here in Taguig, to sir DMI, to Ma’am Melinda, to Ma’am Melissa, thank you.
Thank you Aboitiz, God bless Aboitiz.
This is it!
Parang kailan lang, ang aking tiyan at ang bulsay nagkalaman,
Tatanda at lilipas din ako, ngunit mayroong “salamat”
iiwanan sa inyong ala-ala dahil minsan tayoy nagkasama.
This is about being grateful and I am very, very grateful.
Yes! Thank you.
My journey with Aboitiz began in September of 1982 when I took up my first assignment at the Cebu Shipyard & Engineering Works in Mactan, Cebu. CSEW then was a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Group.
It was a shipper repair facility and a fascinating first stop for a newly minted graduate. My first job was a forklift operator. My task was to pick-up materials like pipes and steel plates from the stockyard and deliver these to the various ships undergoing rehabilitation.
In hindsight, it was a bit dangerous work, but I loved it. However, this lasted all of three days for one morning, Romy Ronquillo, who was president of CSEW, spotted me in my forklift as he was driving into the yard. I can still see his white Toyota Corolla hatchback screeching halt in a cloud of dust, him bolting out, face red, and ready to have a heart attack. He rushes over to me, bellowing, “Joder, coño. Estas loco! Hank me matara si algo te pasa/coño.” (Are crazy? Hank will kill me if something happens to you!) And that ended, by far, the purest job ever.
I then proceeded to do a series of works in different companies. A few more months in CSEW. Two years in Manila with Aboitiz Shipping, back to CSEW for another year, in the same non-aircon office with Al. I even had a short trial stint with Mario Ugarte at Aboitiz Insurance before I got involved in our prawn business. Landing the enviable posting at Bais, Negros Oriental as Farm Manager.
Then, home port for me was reached in February 1992 when I was fortunate enough to fall under Bobby’s wing in Metaphil.
It is with Bobby that the spark of AboitizLand happened. Both our dreams were initially modest and, as we gained confidence and expertise, the vision became bolder. I am proud to define AboitizLand as my life’s work in spite of the spot on the road it finds itself in today.
As I step back and reflect on what has transpired before my eyes since September of 1982, I am in awe at the good fortune I had to witness such events.
From a medium-sized, Cebu-centric business, Aboitiz has grown into a national conglomerate that has taken its place among the best of the best in the country.
Remarkably, we were once powered by an analog world of slide rules, radiograms, paper, telexes, typewriters, and, of course, the indispensable Cebu/Manila/Cebu pouch.
Our management style was simpler, down to earth, informal, very entrepreneurial and everyone knew everyone else. Major decisions then were made in a smoke-filled board room the size of what an AEV VP would occupy today.
By plan, with vision, guts, and a little luck, the company outgrew that era and finds itself today in a position of scale and size no one actually dreamed about. Yet, success brings about its own set of issues and we certainly have our share in today’s complex world where disruption seems to be happening daily.
I would counsel that we all remember where we came from and rediscover who we truly are. What has made us survive and flourish these odd last 100 years is hard work, keeping it simple, not getting enamored with fluff and focus on a few important things that will move the needle.
What have I learned these last 35 years: A lot, of course. I’ve learned that I now understand the adage you have all heard: “THAT THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION”.
Every day is your destination, enjoy your days and savor them like you have arrived, for tomorrow makes plans of its own, tomorrow is truly another day and your goals get changed, increments by increments without you even knowing it.
As I end, I know there will never be enough time to thank and acknowledge all who have made a difference in my career and life. But, there are a few I would be remiss not to heartily thank. I have worked with 3 Group CEOs and I thank them all for leading us and creating a myriad of opportunities.
I thank Louie Aboitiz.
I thank Jon.
I thank Montxu.
I also thank Bobby.
All of the above have, in their own way, mentored me.
I thank my uncles from the 3rd generation, my cousins, brothers, nephew, and nieces for making the best part of working for Aboitiz is the creating of that special bond we share.
Of course, I thank Doreen for being the partner and co-pilot in this remarkable journey. For always being there in the good and rough times.
As I close my 35 years of service, I wish to say it has been my privilege and the greatest honor of my life to have been part of the Aboitiz Group.
I wish you all good luck and good hunting. THANK YOU.
No one is successful alone. Build the team and you build the company. My No.1 lesson is to pick people much better than me, different than me, people I trust, people who energize, inspire and are totally committed, who share a vision and live our purpose, but who have different sets of skills and capabilities, complementary one to the other. Most people surround themselves with those similar to them, instead, surround yourself with those different and better than you. Strategy is stillborn without a great diverse team to deliver it, especially today in this VUCA world.
Business is about winning, the will to win and the skills and resources to win. Essential to a winning team is preparedness, hard work, smarts, creativity, resilience, discipline and grit, a team with people who:
Have high standards of personal ethics.
Can burn the midnight oil.
Have charm and persuasiveness.
Are creative with a streak of unorthodoxy.
Have the courage to make tough decisions.
Have guts under pressure, resilience in defeat.
Are Inspiring enthusiasts.
Are big without being petty.
Have a sense of humor.
The diversity of our team creates the occasion for constantly challenging core beliefs and assumptions, necessary, or else the overconfidence of success and hubris sets in, and then stasis, and then a slow painful decline. We don’t want that!
The team must be engaged. Engagement is emotional connection, and the seat of emotion is in our limbic brain, not in our logical rational Neo-cortex. Language is in the Neo-cortex, so the limbic brain does not understand words, it does not understand memos. Feelings matter. Behavioral science now confirms that to generate emotion in an enterprise context we need to be rooted in shared purpose, shared values, a shared culture. We need to genuinely care for each other as we need to care for our customers.
Purpose and values and culture define who we are. What we know matters but who we are matters even more. Focus not just on doing, but even more so, on being. For, in the end, it is not only about our success, but it is especially about our significance.
We need to strive for significance. This is how we can make a difference, every day. This is how we drive change for a better world. This is how we can advance business and communities. And this is how, together, we shall build an enterprise of enduring greatness.