PRIMEX CEO featured in Malaya as "empowered and inspiring" woman in business

Message from ECA PRIMEX President and CEO Elvira C. Ablaza flanked by Chairman Jose P. Leviste (to her left) and Corporate Treasurer Jerome F. Sison[/caption] PRIMEX President and CEO Ms. Elvira C. Ablaza was featured in the November 12 issue of Malaya as part of their feature on women in business. An excerpt of the article appears below. —————— A country of strong women. This is what history books tell us of the Philippines. Indeed, it has been written that prior to colonization, Filipino women owned property, engaged in trade, were leaders of the community, and could divorce their husbands. Colonization might have changed all that but Filipino women, due in large part to the influence of the American educational system, continue to be head and shoulders above many of their Asian sisters in areas such as education, participation in the community, and legal rights. And while Philippine society remains macho-oriented, the Filipino woman has made in-roads, so to speak, into such male-dominated fields of politics and business. We have had two women presidents and women legislators are increasing in number. While breaking the glass ceiling is far-off in the horizon, there are few who have stood out in their areas of interest. Achievers who happen to be women. Achievers who happen to be women who have made things  happen to them and to those around them. We endeavor to tell two stories in brief. One was supposed to be a doctor but became an educator who became a specialist in partnering with governments and other entities in mapping solutions to development problems. ELVIRA C. ABLAZA A doctor she was expected to be. With a heart surgeon father and an anesthesiologist mother, there could be no other road to take. It has been paved for her– and by her– with a master’s degree (Meritissimus) and a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) both in Biology, and acceptance letters from top medical schools in the country. But things happen, so they say, to explain that which befuddles. What happened was that, some hitherto unrecognized teaching skills became apparent that the family was convinced by a well-meaning adviser that teaching was the path that awaited her. Having half a teacher’s heart which she inherited from her grandmother, she embarked on a teaching career which lasted for five years. Medicine drifted to the back channels. Yet, again, she received a pre-employment MS thesis grant from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC). Writing numerous technical papers and editing published and unpublished works for various organizations, she was selected from a field of 200 nominees from all over the world as the first ever recipient of the Professional Fellowship on the Fisheries Aspects of Integrated River Basin. The grant took her to Rome for six months. Returning to Manila, with the medical field now but a vague memory, and teaching no longer an option, she embraced SEAFDEC as SEAFDEC embraced and prepared her for a specialization that would inspire her and continues to inspire her to attain higher goals. She established Pacific Rim Innovation and Management Exponents, Inc. (PRIMEX) in 1989, and steered it to become one of Asia’s leading management consulting companies, the top ranked Filipino consulting company engaged by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to implement technical assistance projects. Her road to success was paved with very long hours, missed lunches, sleepless nights, no weekends. And perhaps not enough time as she would want with her children. But she had been blessed with a solid support system. “I’ve been lucky to have my parents around especially when the children were younger and I needed to be away for work,” she says. Whatever lack there was, she compensated with quality time. “I made sure we went on trips, bonding time we savored,” she adds. Her job took her to different countries exposing her to various cultures, “Thankfully, though, I never experienced gender biases or anything close enough to that for me to complain about,” she says. Except on one occasion that she remembers, while conversing with a non-Asian, the man hinted at a misconceived lack of travel experience and sophistication on her part, being a woman and an Asian. Putting her foot down, she cited her Roman experience and other overseas sojourns. “I guess I’ve been lucky I did not have to deal with gender barriers as other women did,” she says. “But that does not mean that I will not take up the cause of women,” she adds.

“I believe it comes from being nurturing. I did not even make any trade-offs between success and likability. I didn’t have to give up being nice to my fellow human being just to be, or just because, I’ve been an achiever. I believe that’s a very womanly thing to do. Compassionate, nurturing, that’s what a woman is,” she stresses. Indeed, far from the usual cold and sometimes overly distant atmosphere in most offices that breathe achievement, hers has the warmth and welcoming feel of home, yet with a pervading air of efficiency.
Her advice to up-and-coming women in business: “Be the best that you can be in whatever endeavor you choose, and whatever the situation is. Always come to the table ready for anything. There is nothing like being competent. It will open doors,” she concludes. And the doorman will not even ask questions, she might add. On the celebration of her company’s silver anniversary last August 7th, Elvira C. Ablaza through the company’s newsletter, toasted PRIMEX “by remembering the past, giving thanks for all the blessings received and looking to the future. “Getting to the top is an effort, but remaining on top of the game is a bigger challenge. What motivates me is the future of the company,” she adds, which, judging by the continued rain of contracts, will be another 25 years of top quality performances. —– Source: Mayo, DL. (2014, November 12). Empowered and inspring. Malaya, p. A7.  ]]>