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EIA Message at the 2017 Aboitiz Recognition Night

The recognition night is not just another party in Aboitiz.  It is the party of all parties because this is where we get to celebrate and commemorate the most astonishing thing that has kept us together and has led us to achieve the humble success we enjoy today as an organization, and that is none other than our culture.

When Aboitiz was a young and budding company almost a hundred years ago, we didn’t have such an extensive appreciation of culture and how it can make or break an organization.  But somehow, right from the very start, the way we conducted ourselves and engaged with our partners, customers, shareholders, communities and most importantly with each other in the organization, has always been founded on a bedrock of deep personal values and philosophies.  These values guided us in the way we do things in the company, how we speak to one another, the way we calculate our decisions, how we compete, how we organized and structured ourselves, how we treated one another.  It became the norm, and the norm silently dictated what was acceptable and what was not.  These norms were repeatedly practiced and were carried over from one generation to another until they became distinctly ours.  They formed part of our behavior, our habits and our discipline.  Soon we became known by them until eventually, the mere mention of our company name, and of our A-people, stood for stories of Integrity, Teamwork, Innovation and Responsibility in the workplace.  Today, this is what makes our culture, The Aboitiz Way.

The business world today is developing such a keen interest in corporate culture as studies increasingly prove that culture is the force behind the success of every organization.  Take the case of the challenge Uber had lately.  Uber’s disruptive business model was a huge success and was admired by the whole world.  But because the culture thread behind it was not very strong, stories of internal conflict and rampant disengagement overtook the organization which led many, including the young CEO to resign, leaving a potentially profitable company practically orphaned.  Thankfully, today Uber is getting back on its feet again and hopefully this time they will pay more attention to the why’s and how’s, instead of focusing totally on the what.

For us in Aboitiz, our culture drove our success in many ways in the past and will continue to be a driver of our success in the future. I am relying on each of you to keep The Aboitiz Way truly a way of life.

We need to be our own watchdog for our culture and to get it back on track if it gets misaligned along the way.  More and more people are looking at culture and using it to decide whether they want to be part of an organization or not.  If we all care about working in a great company, let us begin with what little thing we can do to turn our culture to what we desire it to be.

With the new age of digital revolution, the rules of success are changing.  It’s becoming less about how you outperform the competition and more about how you ‘outbehave’ competition.  By talking about our culture we make people understand it.  But by putting these words into action we make people not only understand but believe in it.  Behavior creates trust and people always choose to deal with someone they can trust. When trust is broken, it becomes very difficult and oftentimes very costly to repair.  And I don’t mean just financially because trust is about name and reputation, and is difficult to value in dollar and cents.  In a society of “likes”, “follows”, and “hashtags”, our behavioral and relationship skills and abilities come to the fore.  In many ways we know this to be the “soft skills”.

But as Seth Godin, a best seller author, says, nothing is soft about them at all and by calling them “soft” we give too little respect and diminish the value of these real skills.  These skills are what separates thriving organizations from the striving ones he says.  These soft skills are very real skills for success.  They are at the heart of our culture.  Moving forward, I think soft is going to be the new hard.

Tonight, we celebrate testimonies to the Aboitiz culture beginning with the nominees and the winners of our Inspired by Passion Team Awards; and our service awardees, beginning with our 10 yr awardees. My sincerest congratulations to you all and my heartfelt gratitude for your priceless contributions and for being part of the cast of characters that built our Aboitiz Way story. Of course, how can we forget our the Don Ramon Awards of Excellence.  Do we have a winner this year?  We shall find out later.


Let me end by saying that our purpose –  to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities, is a journey of our choice.  This is what keeps us going no matter what challenges come our way.


This is our higher purpose, our source of inspiration.  On days when we feel tired and weary and we start asking ourselves why we do what we do, the answer is because of our deep desire to make a difference by doing our share of making it a better world for everyone to live in.  A better source of energy through power, a better source of health and nutrition through food, a better roof above our heads through quality and affordable housing, a better lifestyle through infrastructure, a better way of managing our wealth through new ways of banking, a better and safer place for our communities through the interventions of our foundation. But all of these start by first driving change for a better workplace, our workplace.  It starts with our own world.

As Marshall Mcluhan said: There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

Thank you and I wish everyone a Magnifique evening!


Next story:

What drives you? Let’s take a look at the winners of the 2017 Inspired by Passion Team Awards