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Cover Story

EIA Message: Our Group Purpose and ABC

May 15, 2017


Today, we are sharing with you the Aboitiz Group’s Purpose “To drive change for a better world”. We are also launching our refreshed brand positioning, “Advancing Business and Communities”. 

We would like all our stakeholders to understand, appreciate, and embrace our Group Purpose, how each of us in Aboitiz Group see ourselves in our Purpose and how our business units are breathing life to this purpose by advancing business and communities in their respective industries and sectors.


Our Inspired Purpose is the WHY we do what we do, why something exists, and what greater good it serves. Our purpose is our WHY. Our brand proposition, on the other hand, is the HOW we will make it happen – HOW we will drive change for a better world. It allows us to creatively come up with ways to advance not only our business, but, equally important, how we will advance business and communities through the various products and services of the Aboitiz Group, contributing to the greater good, and contributing to making our society better.



Let’s step back to understand Why we need a WHY?

We have been operating for over a century, and there is no doubt that we have attained a tremendous level of success. We experienced phenomenal growth over the last decade. We have received numerous accolades from external institutions about our professionalism and management capabilities. These are remarkable achievements that we all should be very proud of.




But like many things in life, certain outcomes, and most certainly successful ones, are accompanied with consequences.  Our growth story had its share of challenges, setbacks, and anxiety. We stretched our management team, took on new organizations, formed new partnerships, hired new team members and team leaders, relocated our headquarters to Manila, reorganized and redesigned our corporate structure, introduced new systems and procedures, and kicked off numerous initiatives in our attempt to be more effective and productive.

Many have commented that our culture – the Aboitiz Way, our unique way of doing things – seems to be waning and is inconsistently present in our different business units. 

Perhaps because of our size, perhaps because our growth was more organic, perhaps because in the past many of our leaders were inbred, perhaps because most of us joined Aboitiz when we were very young, some straight from college, and rose through the ranks over time, or perhaps because we intermingled with each other more.

Simon Sinek in his book “Start With Why” writes that the greatest challenge any organization will face is success. As companies grow more successful, they start focusing on the whats and the hows; they focus on what they have to achieve and how they will achieve their goals. These are more tangible results, they are easier to measure and reward. They stop focusing on the WHY: why we are in a particular business in the first place?

Over time, slowly but surely, the clarity of the WHY starts to dilute. While it may not be obvious to many of you, this has been a top concern in the minds of the Group Mancom. We have had very in-depth discussions about how we can preserve our very unique culture, the Aboitiz Way. How we can have a Group culture that will unify us, yet allow individual SBUs or even BUs to have their own variation, but still be fundamentally consistent with the Group culture?

Perhaps we should start by clarifying what we mean by culture. Culture is the strong sense of beliefs and values that are shared by everyone, from the CEO to the rank and files, and guides us in everything that we do. It is the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a company.



To be able to sustain the momentum of our growth story and to continue our mission to create long-term value for all our stakeholders, we need to preserve The Aboitiz Way.





We engaged the services of Gallup, the global research organization, to help us preserve the culture of the Aboitiz Group and to align this across the organization. We seek to create a sustainable change that will build a meaningful distinction of our brand in the marketplace, maximize each team member’s potential, and keep us ahead of our competitors.

To preserve our culture, the Aboitiz Way, we must first define and understand our group purpose. Why we exist and what greater good we serve. It is important that we see ourselves in that purpose: How can we make a difference every day by living that purpose and making it real.




We need to have a unified purpose to guide all of us on our journey moving forward. This need for a unified purpose is not just for the organization or us as individuals, but equally important, it should be appreciated by the various stakeholders that we serve. As we continue to grow and our influence on our communities expand, society expects us to go beyond profits and address other societal needs. They expect us to act in their best interest and demonstrate why we should be worthy of their trust.

It is this inspired, unified purpose that will drive us to push and persevere in the face of adversity and to remain relevant to the changing times. It is, therefore, crucial that we clearly articulate our purpose for everyone to appreciate and understand. 

Our journey to articulate our purpose began with an attempt to craft the Aboitiz vision. In the course of our journey, we shifted from talking about our vision, to culture-building and ultimately focusing on our inspired purpose.





This purpose is no different from what we, and those before us, have been doing over the last century. While we did not formally articulate our purpose in the past, our journey has consistently been characterized by a desire to bring about positive change for all our stakeholders. Ever since the time of Don Ramon and our forefathers, we have always found ourselves leading, influencing and driving change for the betterment of our fellow Filipinos, our communities, and the nation. 



Looking back, we connected islands, facilitated trade and commerce for a hundred years through our shipping business until we sold it in 2010.

We pioneered containerization, making shipping more efficient. We improved passenger comfort and safety by introducing the Superferry and SuperCat standards.




In the ‘60s, through City Savings Bank, we offered loans to small-salaried employees who could not afford the requirements imposed by commercial banks and had no choice but to turn to usurious money lenders. Today, we are regularly thanked for helping parents educate their children through the loans we provided.

Our electricity distribution companies supported the growth and development of pioneering frontiers like Davao and Cotabato, and through its rural electrification programs that connected far-flung communities to the convenience of electricity.




Through Hedcor, we are the pioneers in harnessing clean energy from run-of-river plants to energize communities. Since then, we have expanded our renewable energy portfolio and today, we provide the country with a balanced mix of energy sources to power and empower economic progress and communities.

I can go on and on with examples of how we, through our businesses, have introduced change for a better world. We have been equally guided by a sense of purpose that goes beyond just making money. Perhaps what makes our jobs more challenging is introducing the “AND”. The “AND”  adds another dimension to why and how we do things.

We need to get a reasonable return on our investments “AND” ensure we are driving some change for a better world. Every action, every decision, must somehow contribute to this greater purpose. This is why we say that our value-creating efforts have to benefit more than just the shareholders.

As you are all aware, an integral part of our business model has always been corporate social responsibility. We match our business expansion with investments in communities and social infrastructure. 

Over the past 10 years, we have invested PHP4 billion in our CSR programs, making an impact on the lives of millions of beneficiaries. This has also given our team members the opportunity to volunteer in various projects and satisfy their desires to contribute to society.





Throughout our organization, we have embraced and embedded a sustainability mindset. Our thinking here is clear:  Sustainability is at the core of our growth strategy, anchored on our philosophy that we can do well by doing good, always making the right long-term decisions that balance the interests of people, planet, and profit.



Even our brand positioning of Passion for Better Ways launched in 2005 was clearly a reflection of our drive to continuously do better. Even when we were delivering results, even when things were working well, we still wanted to do even more.

As mentioned earlier, as we grew, we acquired new businesses and hired more professionals to join the organization; the composition of our business portfolio changed. In the past, we were known as a shipping company, today we are more known as a power company.



In 2015, we saw the need to review our brand positioning. By then, we had expanded our portfolio and also expanded into new markets.

It has been 12 years since we launched Passion for Better Ways, and while our passion for continuous improvement continues to burn even stronger today, there is so much more to say about us and what is expected of us. Our brand must have meaning internally, as well as externally. It must now represent our greater good and how we help society, our country, and the world.

Over the past century, we have been able to weather the winds of change, and have led and transformed industries we are in. It has become very clear that we are agents of change and that as a group, Aboitiz is in a good position to further drive change for a better world.

The right time had come for us to revisit our brand promise and refresh our brand. Therefore this year and moving forward, we rally around our refreshed brand positioning: ADVANCING BUSINESS AND COMMUNITIES.  

This is HOW we are going to drive change for a better world… advancing business and communities, through the various products and services of the Aboitiz group.

A.B.C. Advancing business and communities. It is basic. It refers to building blocks.

We decided on this refreshed brand positioning because it is outward looking, highlights how we influence and affect our various stakeholders, and anchored on the belief that the advancement of business and communities is integral to the development of our society, our country, and ultimately, the world.

We are going to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities through the various products and services that our business units provide. Each of our business units will further define the Group purpose in ways that are complementary to their respective operational goals.

For power, we advance business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, but more importantly, do so with the least possible adverse effects on our environment and our host communities.

For banking and financial services, we enhance financial supply chains by providing smart banking solutions that will elevate lives and fulfill the dreams of the communities we serve.

For food, we cultivate relationships with our partners to ensure the sustainability of the food chain.

For infrastructure, we play a key role in nation building by becoming a leader in innovative, infrastructure-related solutions that will help drive economic progress and uplift the lives of every Filipino.

And for land, we build deliberately designed residential, commercial and industrial communities that will help people live better lives.



As part of our growth strategy, we believe in the need to preserve and strengthen the Aboitiz Way, our culture and unique way of doing things, which we attribute much of our success to. Culture, a unified purpose and brand positioning are three hallmarks of a high-performing organization. As we have increased in size, we believe that now is the opportune time to rearticulate what these mean to us in Aboitiz.





Guided by the Aboitiz core values of integrity, teamwork, innovation and responsibility, we will continue to create long-term value for all our stakeholders, to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities. As we advance business and communities, we will further drive change, affecting many more lives, with the end in mind, of creating a better world for generations to come.

We in Aboitiz drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities.