Arbolado new PDI president; Romualdez CEO of Inquirer Group
Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) president and chief executive officer (CEO) Sandy Prieto-Romualdez has relinquished her position in the 35-year-old newspaper to focus on her role as CEO of the Inquirer Group of Companies (IGC).
Chief operating officer (COO) Rudyard S. Arbolado was elected by the PDI board of directors last Dec. 10 as new president and CEO effective Jan. 1, PDI board chair Raul J. Palabrica announced in video conferences with PDI officers and employees on Tuesday.
Romualdez will continue to be a director of PDI and its affiliates, Palabrica said.
“She is assuming the helm of the IGC with the singular objective of making its member-companies more productive and efficient, and in a better position to realize their corporate objectives,’’ he said in a meeting also attended by PDI’s former chair, Marixi Rufino-Prieto.
Palabrica congratulated Arbolado on his appointment and paid tribute to Romualdez “who led our company for 27 years to the heights of honor, prestige and respect that our newspaper now enjoys.”
Romualdez had served as PDI president for 25 years, steering the company through its most difficult challenges as the country’s most widely read paper and its most significant milestones as a pioneering multimedia company.
“Frankly, the memories and experiences are enough for 10 lifetimes,” she said in thanking the PDI family for journeying with her.
“Thank you for all your hard work, sacrifices, sympathy, empathy, love and support. Our collective efforts have helped us build Inquirer to what it has become—a daily habit, a trusted source of news and information and, by the grace of God, made a difference in the lives of many,’’ she said.
Under the stewardship of Romualdez and her Rufino-Prieto family for almost three decades, the Inquirer grew from a broadsheet to the biggest multimedia organization in the country. Aside from PDI, which was founded in 1985 by Eugenia Duran Apostol, the IGC includes its website Inquirer.net and other companies involved in multimedia, publication, printing, courier service and a training academy.
The IGC multimedia platforms have an integrated audience base of 63.7 million as of June 2020.
“My task now is to ensure that the Inquirer Group identifies key opportunities and creates synergy within the group and with external partners to capitalize on them,” Romualdez said.
She said she was “extremely excited to work with the new leadership team to take PDI to even greater heights.”
She expressed full confidence in Arbolado’s leadership, praising him for having the competencies, “passion and energy to pursue the vision and mission of PDI to tell the Filipino story and be a catalyst for social progress and change.”
Arbolado, a lawyer and a certified public accountant (CPA), said he was honored and humbled by the extraordinary chance to lead PDI and vowed to build upon Romualdez’s legacy and remarkable leadership.
“In particular, Sandy has guided our company through the period of emergence and eventually, ubiquity of digital technologies, and through four Philippine presidents. We owe you an immeasurable debt for your vision and courage,” he said.
Arbolado noted that as PDI and the print media industry faced and weathered major challenges in the last few years, the company took substantial steps to adapt to the future and would continue to do so.
Connection with readers
“The cornerstone of all our efforts will be our readers. With the help of each of the talented people comprising the Philippine Daily Inquirer and with technological innovation as a primary instrument, we aim to be deeply connected with our readers and understand them in order to properly respond to the changing circumstances,” he said.
“To my Inquirer colleagues, we face the future with hope and optimism founded on the premise that we are carrying out a duty to our readers, our country and ourselves. We shall continue carrying out this mission. We also remain cautious for these are incredible times, while cognizant of the need to be courageous to take advantage of the opportunities that may arise,” he added.
COVID-19 pandemic test
Arbolado had been with PDI for 13 years. When he was appointed COO in 2018, he embarked on programs bringing closer cooperation among the company’s sales, marketing and editorial teams.
He also streamlined operations of the finance, human resource and administration departments, and undertook a successful austerity program which generated much-needed savings at a time when the media industry was already reeling from challenges.
“His action resulted in positive growth in advertisement and subscription revenues, maximization of resources and reduction of operating costs,” Palabrica said.
The COVID-19 pandemic also tested Arbolado’s leadership mettle and he passed with flying colors, he said.
“Through his efficient management of the company’s resources and with the cooperation of our employees, the company did not miss a beat in meeting its financial obligations and responsibilities to its employees and in ensuring their protection from COVID-19 in and around our work premises,” Palabrica said.
While the pandemic adversely affected PDI’s operations, as it did almost all businesses in the country, the company continued to pay all salaries and benefits due its employees. It also implemented work-from-home arrangements and observed health and safety protocols to protect the employees and their families from the virus.
“In these difficult and trying times, the need for a truthful, fair and vigilant media organization is critical. It is an undertaking that calls for the unstinting support and cooperation of the men and women of the Philippine Daily Inquirer,” Palabrica said in announcing the top-level organizational change.
Arbolado joined PDI in 2007 as general counsel. In 2016, he was appointed chief finance officer, during which he supervised and enhanced the operational efficiency of finance and accounting, credit and collection, financial planning, budget and treasury.
Early on, he was an associate lawyer at the Accra Law Office and a consultant at GMA New Media Inc. He was also an analyst at AMA Capital Holdings Inc. and Unicapital Securities Corp.
He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy, and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of the Philippines Diliman. INQ
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