Build Upon The Good Work Of Those Who Came Before Us

QUESTION: How does it feel being one of the corporate leaders of one of the country's top agri-industrial companies and marketer of one of the world's top branded food products?

ALEJANDRO: A First of all, it is humbling when you realize you follow in the footsteps of dedicated men who gave their best to do their part in building Del Monte into the pre-eminent company it is today. Secondly, it is exciting to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of this awesome company. It is also quite an honor to manage a company with a strong heritage of quality products and reliable service, and to be associated with one of the world's most prestigious trademarks.

Q: What would you consider as the high points of your career both at Del Monte and outside?

A: I started in the Marketing Department of Procter & Gamble, considered as the inventor of the brand management system and the world's foremost consumer product marketing company. That start in itself was my first career highlight, considering I bested many classmates who were much better academically. The next career highlight was with my second employer, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, where, as a 26-year old product manager, I was appointed General Manager of the company's bottling plant in Tanauan, Leyte, and later in Muntinlupa. Not only was I the youngest plant general manager in the worldwide Pepsico system, I was also one of only a handful who crossed over from marketing to operations.

In Del Monte, I feel my main career highlight is the recruitment and nurturing of a team of professional managers and the development of a “culture of growth” which has engendered a continuous striving for excellence in the local market. The results are reflected in the continued robust growth of the local market's sales and profits over the last 18 years, with the quality of financial results improving as the years went by.

Q: What personal attributes do you think help you achieve career goals?

A: First of all, I try to focus on the fundamental mission of the business. I then try to develop my own vision aligned to this. All my day-to-day actions would then be guided by this vision. If you do this consistently with creativity and courage, you are bound to make a significant impact on any business. Secondly, I think I communicate clearly enough to people. I actually like dealing with people and find it easy to talk to people. I feel I can help a team gel well. My experience in marketing and operations and a basic understanding of finance allows me to integrate the various functions in the company to achieve corporate goals. I like to always think of the big picture, but I am also at home with the “nittygritty” stuff. I'm quite realistic and pragmatic. I can “compartmentalize” things so that I avoid being overwhelmed. I pray.

Q: What's your vision for Del Monte Philippines in the future? What will be the contribution of Del Monte's work teams?

A: My vision for DMPI in the future revolves around five issues, as follows:

Product Quality - We will become the producer of the best pineapple and tropical fruit product compared to anyone else in the world.

Price Competitiveness - We will be so efficient in the management of our costs that we will be competitive with anyone in the world in our main product categories.

Customer Service - We will develop excellent customer service as a core competency and a competitive advantage so that DMPI will emerge as the supplier of choice for pineapple, tropical fruit and other products for any present or potential customer in the world.

Market Development - We will develop the full potential of the Philippine Market and participate as appropriate in the expansion of DMPI's businesses in Asia and the Indian sub-continent. We will also develop new products for our existing customers in the US, Europe and Asia.

Teamwork and Communication - Del Monte's work teams will be challenged to identify and address issues in their respective areas to remove any impediment to the accomplishment of their part in this vision. The teams will also be challenged to work together better so that the full potential of the organization as a whole will be realized.

Q: How will this vision blend in with existing programs, our relations with our shareholders, business partners, suppliers and our host communities?

A: This vision is coming straight out of the wishes of our shareholders; and because it is not new, many of our existing programs are already aligned to this vision. Many of our business partners (distributors, advertising agencies, etc.) and suppliers have actually begun to feel the impact of this vision. And because we are inextricably linked to our host communities, our success in realizing this vision will further benefit these communities and strengthen our relationships with them.

Q: New technologies keep global business on the fast track. Are we up to it?

A: Yes and not yet. Yes, because much of our “backend” systems have been integrated with our new enterprise-wide information system, SAP. Not yet, because we still have a long way to go in the “front-end”: linking up our internal systems, as appropriate, with our external suppliers and customers.

This is crucial if we are to develop customer service as a key competency and competitive advantage. I am convinced that as an organization we are eminently capable of rising to this challenge.

Q: Can you tell us more about your family?

A: My wife, Lelo, has been my partner and supporter in all my endeavors for the past 26 years. We have 4 children. Our two elder sons, Mark (25) and Paolo (23) are pursuing their own careers. Our third son, Jody (14) , is in Second Year High School. Our only daughter, Stephanie (12), is in Grade 7.

Q: Any “words of wisdom”?

A: We are blessed to be part of a strong and financially healthy company. DMPI is strong and healthy, thanks to the work of a strong team - that's you and me and all the other employees in Makati, Bugo and Plantation - who have built upon the good work of those who came before us. Our company is strong also because of the unstinting support of our shareholders. I propose that together and with God's help, we continue to build on this strength so that those who will come after us will find an even stronger DMPI. I call on everyone in DMPI to focus on their individual accountability, cultivate a sense of urgency, cultivate teamwork and communication, and strive for excellence in everything we do. Not only will we become more productive, we will also experience greater fulfillment and have more fun in our jobs.

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