Editorial Team | October 2019
For the past two decades, the Don Ramon Aboitiz Award of Excellence has symbolized the timeless Aboitiz values and ideals by honoring the Aboitiz team members who keep them alive. In its 21st year, the highest and most distinguished recognition for an Aboitiz team member or team leader goes to Annacel Natividad, AEV First Vice President & Chief Risk Officer.
The announcement was made by AEV Chief HR Officer Susan Valdez at the 2019 AEV-AP Recognition Night, and though the DRAAE screening process is kept under wraps, it was not a complete surprise for all who have known Annacel throughout her career in the Aboitiz Group.
As one who inspires others with her passion and dedication to continuously deliver value to the organization, Annacel is widely regarded for her commitment, integrity, and consistency to her word. She is described as forthright, highly resilient and generous in sharing her knowledge and her tenacity and drive to overcome challenges enables her and her team to create meaningful impact. These qualities, and more, spell the reason why she has been selected as the newest member of an elite group of individuals, the DRAAE honorees.
Being a risk manager requires one to have a good understanding of the business unit, a strong awareness of the uncertainties, and a broad perspective on how to deal with those uncertainties. As priorities remain in focus, risk management oftentimes gets sidelined as demands on people’s time and resources get constrained. Pursuing the risk agenda has never been easy, more so driving it through different leaders and diverse businesses, as the Group CRO.
Beneath her smiles, Annacel is grit encapsulated. Through her passion, persistence, perseverance, smartness, and personality, she has been able to establish and drive a stronger risk management awareness and culture across the Aboitiz Group.
Her integrity and loyalty to the Aboitiz organization and family values has been her compass in staying the course in her 21 years journey with the Group.
As she transitions to a new role in 2020, Anne can take comfort that her legacy will be safeguarded by what she has built: a strong core team of risk managers and an institutionalized process.
– Butch Peralta, Chief Risk Officer, UnionBank
Over the years, Anne has demonstrated that she embodies the Aboitiz Way.
Her passion for better ways is always at the forefront of how she works and how she inspires others to do the same. She is able to influence her team to do their best and ensure that, in the process, improve their skills and abilities both on technical knowledge and in dealing with others.
Integrity is something that is within her very core. Anne always reminds her team to do their best in delivering their functions. She specifically teaches her team by example. For instance, in each and every presentation Anne does, she makes sure that she reviewed it over and over again. She practices what she preaches.
Being a leader, Anne knows how to be a good team player. In every initiative that the team has, aside from the directions she is giving, she makes sure that she has a part in it. She owns up to her mistakes but makes sure that mitigation or correction is implemented as well.
She exemplifies responsibility, objectivity, discipline, fairness and hardwork — thus, inspires someone to follow her footsteps.
– Raul Imperial, AVP Risk Management, AEV
If there is someone who deserves to be given the DRAAE, yes, Anne must be one of them.
I do not really have a picture in mind of the first time that I have met the then Annacel Aban in 2000. Maybe we were just plainly introduced to each other when I joined the corporate finance team of Aboitiz Transport where she was already one of the highly reliable and trusted team leaders of the group.
Even back then, Anne has always been highly engaged, extremely driven, and passionate in everything she does. She thrives on day-to-day work stress because anything achieved and timely completed gives her a sense of fulfillment.
Her career with the Aboitiz Group has been quite a journey—from finance, investor relations, ship passenger operations, supply chain, to insurance, security, governance, compliance, and risk management. Anne would always look forward to new work assignments that would challenge her to learn, to deliver, and to get the job done—to fix inefficient processes, to reconcile accounting books, to negotiate with insurers, and even to manage a passenger ship. She has experienced being at the forefront of major crisis activities that she handled with grace under pressure.
Anne is not perfect — she does not claim to be — but she makes sure she learns from being imperfect. She acknowledges that people really do not learn anything by doing everything right the first time.
Anne continues to be one of the key movers in the organization. She is a leader-General that her team looks up to. She is a soldier-follower that management relies upon. To be recognized as a DRAAE awardee is a testament to the value that Anne has contributed and continues to contribute to the Aboitiz group.
Amiga, we are proud of you!
– Marie Tanate, VP Group Internal Audit Head, AEV
You have been with the Aboitiz Group for 20+ years, what do you think sets the company apart? What do you think makes you/A-People stay?
The reason why I have stayed for 21 years is that I was given opportunities to make a difference and do my best in every function I was assigned to do. I was not stuck in one function, I was allowed to “spread my wings” within the Aboitiz Group. I was supported in my quest for continuous learning. There is a special connection as far as my personal values are concerned with that of the company and, because of this special connection, I know and I feel that I belong in this organization.
Throughout all your leadership roles, what is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned? Do you have any work philosophy you abide by that you can share?
In my 21 years in the Aboitiz Group, my learnings can be summarized in 4Ps — Perseverance, Patience, Passion, Prayer.
Perseverance takes you where you want to be – this is also about being hardworking and diligent. Patience is a virtue. Passion – when you have passion for work and life you are inspired to do your best, you are resilient, and you can bounce back from every setback or challenge. Prayer – pray knowing that you have done your best.
In fulfilling your everyday tasks, what is it that inspires you? What do you do before starting a busy day?
What inspires me in fulfilling my everyday tasks is making a difference in whatever role I play — mommy, wife, daughter, sister, friend, team member, and team leader, and being part of a community. I pray before starting a busy day. It’s not only about praying for my personal intentions but it’s about praying for the people that I work with and the challenges that would come my way. Knowing that I have done my best — God will do the rest.
What personal values do you have that aligns well with Aboitiz’s own core values?
Integrity. For me, integrity is the be-all and end-all among the core values of the Aboitiz Group. It means following my personal convictions that I learned growing up and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself. It’s about taking responsibility for my actions. I also believe that true integrity knows that everyone deserves respect.
What makes a good team? How would you describe the people in your team/s?
A good team is not only about working together. But having the trust, respect, and care for each other. In my 21 years in Aboitiz, I learned that nothing beats teamwork. The success of the teams that I belong to now and in the past, I always owe it to each and every team member that has supported each other.
The Risk Team now is very diverse, composed of different personalities, coming from different disciplines — risk management, security, compliance — we have finance and management professionals, lawyers, architects, accountants. Everyone is unique but able to offer their own experiences and knowledge that others may not possess but, in the end, are achieving one common goal. Each and every team member knows that their hard work makes a difference. One common factor is having that respect for each other. Even though we have loads of deliverables and facing different challenges — we don’t forget to have fun together.
How do you make it clear to non-operations teams that they, too, are instrumental in promoting our Group Purpose and Brand Promise (to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities)?
It’s about knowing our “why”, the reason for our existence as a team member whether you are from operations or support group. Each of us will make a difference to achieve our Group Purpose and Brand Promise. It should start from living the company values and making sure that we walk the talk. It’s doing the simple task with integrity that would lead you in achieving your purpose.
Share about a moment or time at work that you are very proud of.
Every time the team would accomplish our objectives and initiatives, or a team member is promoted or gets certified globally.
One of my most memorable experiences in the Aboitiz Group was my 13-year stint at ATS (Aboitiz Transport Systems)/SuperFerry. Aside from handling finance, risk, and insurance requirements, I was also given a chance to handle operations and facing customers and passengers. From this experience, I know and realized that I can do more and can handle beyond what is expected of me most especially during difficult situations. It was a character-building and life-changing experience.
How do you overcome your biggest challenge/s at work?
Overcoming my biggest challenges at work was not easy. I am thankful that I have a good support system – my family, friends, and mentors who would always stand by me and pointing out my areas for improvement. For every challenge that I encounter I make sure that I learn from my mistakes and work on improving myself.
Please describe the experience of being named a DRAAE awardee. What thoughts ran through your mind?
At first, it was surreal. Then, after I got all the greetings – the thoughtful and sincere messages especially coming from team members across the group telling me that I inspired them and they feel like being awarded too – I feel thankful and grateful. I never thought that simple acts of kindness and just being true to myself would result in this. Now, for me its about paying forward and sharing the best that I can to continue to make a difference wherever I am in the organization.
For other Aboitiz team members who see you as inspiration, what advice can you give them about living the Aboitiz core values in their respective roles?
Make the most of what you have, never settling for less than the life that you are capable of living, believing that you will make a difference in whatever role you play. It’s important that you don’t lose the core values that you learned growing up.