The other De Lima breaks MAP’s sex barrier
That businessman Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. was named Management Man of the Year for 2010 by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) was no surprise to the people who follow developments on the local business scene.
After all, “Boy Blue,” as his friends call the man, has been at the helm of Phinma Inc. for many years now. And he managed to turn around the fortunes of one of the country’s oldest and most established industrial houses after the 1997 East Asian financial crisis.
He is also known as a patriot who led the Makati Business Club for many years outside the previous administration’s circle of influence, having called, unsuccessfully, for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down in the wake of the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal.
No, it was hardly surprising that Del Rosario was chosen for the prestigious award.
What was a surprise—in the most pleasant sense—was the MAP’s decision to name Lilia B. de Lima, the director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), as the other Management Man of the Year for 2010.
With the upper echelons of Philippine business remaining largely male-dominated, it was the first time in its history that the MAP bestowed the honor on a woman.
Proof in numbers
By all accounts, De Lima’s award is well-deserved. And the numbers speak for themselves.
At present, there are some 2,400 companies doing business in the special economic zones nationwide, employing close to 800,000 highly skilled Filipino workers. Indirectly, another 4.4 million jobs are being created and sustained because of the business generated by these Peza locators.
With De Lima at the helm, Peza has also brought an estimated P1.7 trillion worth of foreign investments onto local shores since 1995, and remitted close to P13 billion to the government over the agency’s lifetime.
At the same time, the environment in the various economic zones has become so conducive to business that about 86 percent of the country’s manufactured exports are now made in Peza sites, cumulatively worth over $387 billion to date.
It is perhaps because of these numbers that De Lima has kept her job as director general of Peza under four presidents—itself an achievement in a country where most agency heads are changed along with the appointments and policies of the outgoing administration.
De Lima is apparently not one to rest on her already impressive laurels, as she strives to push her team to excel in its work every day.
Her formula for success is strikingly simple, yet difficult to achieve in a local setting.
“Over the years we have built what is now known in the Peza community as the Peza brand of service—no graft, no corruption, no red tape, only red-carpet treatment for our valued investors and stakeholders,” De Lima said during the annual recognition event hosted on May 25 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer for the MAP awardees.
“Peza is a ‘One-Stop Shop,’” she said. “Import and export permits, now all automated, are processed or preprocessed by Peza, as building permits, visas, environmental compliance certificates and others are processed at Peza through memoranda of understanding with other government agencies.”
De Lima also made a revelation about the work ethic at Peza under her leadership, one that is certain to elicit head-shaking among employees of other government agencies: “Peza is not just a ‘One-Stop Shop.’ It is also a ‘Non-Stop Shop’ because in the zones, especially the manufacturing zones, we render service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Sundays and holidays.”
“When I go on investment promotions abroad, I tell them that if any agency here or abroad can beat this service, I’ll be very sad,” De Lima said, adding that Peza personnel took a break from their duties only once a year—on Good Friday.
First Peza head
De Lima is the aunt and godparent of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whose name is often confused with hers.
She was appointed Peza’s first—and so far only—head by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995.
Born in San Agustin, Iriga City, De Lima is the youngest of 11 children born to the late Agapito de Lima and Felicisima Bagaporo.
She received an associate in arts degree from the Centro Escolar University, was a law scholar at the Manuel L. Quezon University, and was a fellow at the Academy of American and International Law, studying at the Southwestern Legal Foundation, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
One of her early stints as a public servant was as an elected delegate to the constitutional convention, representing the second district of Camarines Sur.
She has served in various government agencies and on the board of private corporations.
The MAP honored De Lima’s dedication to duty during the formal awarding ceremonies late last year.
It said that she deserved the Management Man of the Year Award for, among others, “her leadership role in Peza’s substantial contribution to national development in terms of job generation and income opportunities for various sectors of the economy.”
She was cited “for her courage, professionalism and ability to transcend politics and resist pressures” throughout four presidencies while “consistently preserving Peza’s integrity as an institution.”
The MAP also cited De Lima’s “contribution to reshaping national values by upholding integrity, excellence, firmness and fairness in her management career.”
De Lima and Del Rosario are now among the Philippines’ leading lights in business and management—a roster that includes the likes of Washington SyCip (the first awardee in 1967), Cesar Virata (1981), brothers Cesar and Rafael Buenaventura (1985 and 2004), father and son Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (1987 and 2006), and Del Rosario’s father, Ramon Sr. (1988).
For all that, De Lima has retained at least two key traits of successful managers—humility and generosity in sharing credit—as shown in her speech during last week’s recognition event.
She thanked the “men” behind her: “my three deputy directors general—Mary Harriet Abordo for operations, Justo Porfirio Yusingco for administration and finance, and Tereso Panga for policy and planning; our promotions group manager Elmer San Pascual; and my executive assistant Lita Malicdan.”
“They afford me the luxury of reaping rewards and recognition while they support me quietly working behind the scenes,” she said.
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