AIM: Sandy Prieto-Romualdez helped redefine print journalism
In celebration of women, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) featured a beaming Inquirer president and CEO Alexandra “Sandy” Prieto-Romualdez on its Facebook wall early in March, this being International Women’s Month.
Romualdez was one of five recipients of the AIM Alumni Achievement Award (Triple A) for 2011-2012 for excellence in the exercise of their professions. The awards were presented at the recent grand alumni homecoming and celebration of the institute’s 44th Foundation Year.
In her acceptance speech, a teary-eyed Romualdez revealed that when she was nominated for the Inquirer presidency in 1998, she was only 33, was the only female among the candidates and was a newbie in the publishing world. But she got the position and has held it for the last 13 years.
The same year that she first went to work for the Inquirer as an executive assistant to the president, Romualdez obtained her master’s degree in developmental management from AIM.
That was in 1994 when, except for an occasional fund-raising drive to help out earthquake victims or a patient needing extraordinary medical care, broadsheets pretty much focused on nothing but the gathering and delivery of news and information.
Tool for development
Romualdez tailored her management research report, one of the rigorous requirements at AIM, toward an investigation of how media could become a tool for development and social change, a study that, she noted, has had full application at the Inquirer since she took over as CEO.
“AIM helped me to embrace that mission and dream for the Inquirer. For the 17 years that I’ve been there, we’ve put ourselves in the center to be a catalyst for social change,” said Romualdez.
She said she owed AIM a debt of gratitude and thanked the institute for its support.
Sold below cost
“My AIM professors are going to kill me,” she quipped, eliciting laughter from the audience as she admitted “the newspaper is probably the only product in the world that is sold below cost.”
While that may be the case, the good news is that the Inquirer remains the widest-read broadsheet of choice in the country, according to the latest Nielsen Media Index/Consumer and Media Views survey. That market share translates to 866,000 daily readers.
How to arrive at such desirable statistics is what most, if not all, students want to get out of AIM, the pioneer institution founded in 1968 by Asian visionaries—in partnership with Harvard Business School and Ford Foundation—for the education of entrepreneurs and managers in the region.
Romualdez, however, has accomplished more.
According to the AIM citation, she has “redefined print journalism to also mean active social involvement and entrepreneurship by vigorously supporting projects and advocacies for the community.”
Prime examples of her development-oriented leadership are the Inquirer Newsboy Foundation and the Journalism University Scholarship Program.
The newsboy foundation has been helping send poor but deserving newsboys and immediate family members of Inquirer dealers to grade school, high school and college.
The journalism scholarship program, since its creation, has supported outstanding journalism students at five universities. Many of these scholars are now working as Inquirer reporters or editors.
Romualdez also led the Inquirer into a partnership with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to provide scholarships to 31 children of the journalists and media workers who were slain in the Maguindanao massacre.
To sustain the education of these scholars, Romualdez, with the support of the AdBoard, spearheaded the donation of a portion of the income from the recent Ad Congress, which she had chaired.
The Inquirer president was also recognized by AIM for her environmental campaigns, particularly the broadsheet’s redesign that has lead to a reduction in newsprint use and the use of soy-based ink for printing.
Romualdez thanked her Inquirer family for sharing her vision for the newspaper. “I’m truly blessed to have a team of individuals who believe in the mission,” she said.
She considered her Inquirer family as among the “great excavators of goodness” in her life.
She vowed to continue pushing for the Inquirer to become a tool for change.
Romualdez also acknowledged her greatest cheerleader in life, husband Philip.
The other AIM Triple A awardees were Fu Shih-Choib of Taiwan, Milon Bikash Paul of Bangladesh, Ravi Prasad of India, and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.
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