In a seamless transition of leadership, the rising generation of Zobels is demonstrating their strength of collaboration as they step into key roles within the P390-billion Ayala Corp. (AC).
Mariana Zobel de Ayala considers it a “luxury” to have synergy with her brother, Jaime Alfonso, and her cousin, Jaime Zobel Urquijo, all of whom are eighth-generation members of the family that controls the Philippines’ oldest conglomerate in their expanding roles in the family’s diversified businesses.
“I lean on them both a lot. We kick ideas around, check each other on things, and even cover for each other when schedules get especially challenging,” said Mariana in an interview with Tatler Philippines.
“We grew up together; we are lucky that we have many shared experiences that created a unique level of trust,” said Mariana.
Mariana, a daughter of bilyonaryo Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and socio-civic entrepreneur Lizzie, was recently named senior vice president Ayala Land Inc. She sits on the board of ALI, AREIT, and Ayala Healthcare,
Alfonso was promoted as AC Motors Group’s chief executive officer, after co-leading the firm’s Corporation Strategy and Development Group.
He spent nearly three years in Globe handling fixed-mobile convergence.
Urquijo, the son of philanthropist Bea Zobel de Ayala Jr., was named AC’s chief sustainability officer and chief risk officer and a member of the management committee last August. He is a director of Bank of the Philippine Islands, Integrated Microelectronics Inc. and AC Industrial Technology.
Mariana and Alfonso both graduated from Harvard, following in their father’s footsteps. Urquijo, an alum of the University of Notre Dame, pursued his MBA at INSEAD, mirroring Mariana’s educational path, while Alfonso obtained his MBA from Columbia Business School.
While AC made a strategic move towards professionalization generations ago, family members persist in holding pivotal roles within the company contingent on their qualifications.
‘Many of us in the family recognize that our shared gene pool may not encompass all the experience, talents, and skills required to navigate the diverse industries we engage in. In this regard, the prevailing perspective is, essentially, ‘Let’s appoint the most qualified individual for the job—whether they are a family member or not,'” Mariana said.
“In terms of assessing our interest in and capacity to contribute to Ayala, the generation above looked for indicators of interest and commitment—how we performed in school, what internships and jobs we secured,” she added.