Rene Ochoa and the AIM Class of 1975
Next year the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) marks its 50th anniversary and this early it kicked off celebrations with the launch of a new logo to emphasize that the institute remains at the heart of an ever-changing Asia. It was in 1956 that three gentlemen—Washington Sycip, founder of the SGV Group; Ramon del Rosario, founder of Phinma; and Stephen Fuller of the Harvard Business School—signified their interest in establishing a full-term Master in Business Program in the Philippines. They were backed up by a group of prominent business leaders, Philippine academic institutions, and the Harvard Business School. Jaime Zobel de Ayala pledged a onehectare piece of land in Makati as the site for the new school. Eugenio Lopez Sr., followed with a donation of P5 million for an AIM building. This amount actually went up to P6.5 million. Stephen Fuller of Harvard accepted an appointment as the first AIM president. On June 27, 1968, AIM became a legal entity when it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the following year, classes began at the Ateneo campus on Padre Faura.
In the beginning, AIM conducted only a one degree program, a two-year Master in Business Management. There were a number of short-term offerings (nondegree) such as the Basic Management Program, an Air Transport Course and a Management Development Program that would later become a full-blown degree undertaking.
It was in 1974 that a new one-year degree program, a Master in Management (MM), was launched. The course was geared for individuals already holding managerial positions or who possessed the experience that would enable them to assume higher levels of responsibility.
We were part of this first batch, the MM Class of 1975. Our classmates came from India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. The majority were from the Philippines.
Five of us came from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, two were priests, one was an airline pilot from the United States, while the rest were from various business corporations in the country and the region. Jesuit Leo Larkin received his discharge papers from the priesthood in the middle of the schoolyear and went on to marriage and a successful business career. His thesis at the school was “A Strategy for the Organization and Management of the Ateneo de Manila University.” Ofelia Liclican and Singaporean Yip Sek Wah were in the same “can group” (students were broken up into small discussion units for closer interaction). Of course, they saw much of each other, fell in love, and got married shortly after graduation. Jerry Salvosa continues the family tradition of excellence in education with his work at the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City. Al Barbe, a commercial pilot with American Airlines, went on to management positions in the industry.
Of the five from the Armed Forces, Nicasio Rodriguez and I would cap our military careers as commanding generals of the Philippine Air Force. Roberto Ampig closed his service as a Navy commodore. Ben Liclican ended up with Army operations (G-3). Ed Abenina would be detained for his participation in the failed 1989 coup attempt. In his autobiography “My American Journey,” Gen. Colin Powell who was chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff at that time, had this to say about Abenina’s role: “Cheney [Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney] and I had just returned from a conference in Brussels. I went to work the next day, returned home and gratefully hit the sack after dinner. An hour later the phone rang and I was informed by Tom Kelly (JCS Operations officer) that a coup was underway in the Philippines, headed by a General Edgardo Abenina. I went immediately to the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon, arriving just after 11 p.m.” Ed Abenina would later serve as Land Transportation Office chief under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The class graduated 48-strong in May 1975. Our guest speaker was Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, chair and managing director of Bank Bumiputra, Malaysia and chair of Petronas, the state oil agency. Gaston Ortigas, the beloved associate dean of the institute, bade us all farewell.
Rene Ochoa was one of two students sent by Unilab to take up the MM program. Born in Pulilan, Bulacan, his father was an insurance agent, a calling that did not provide much of a steady income for the family. And so it took Rene a few more years than usual to finish a journalism course at the MLQ University. After graduation, he found employment at Unilab’s human resource department. Twenty years later, he opted for retirement in the hope of starting his own business. Unfortunately, it was one disappointment after another. But he persisted in his dream. In 1991, he set up Canam, a company engaged in the sale of laboratory instruments. He discovered it was a crowded industry with cutthroat competition, making life even more miserable.
After a few years, learning from his mistakes in the past, and devoting more time to studying the market, he put up another company, Glenwood Technologies International Inc. Since its establishment in July 1995, Glenwood has become the leader in the exclusive distribution of premium rapid diagnostic and hygiene monitoring test kits to meet emerging needs for food and feed safety. Now known as the pioneer in the rapid test kits market, Glenwood has developed numerous product lines to provide reliable and immediate results for its clientele. Its core group of technical and marketing staff consists of top microbiologists, food technologists and allied professionals in the medical and agricultural fields.
Today Glenwood has annual sales of over P200 million with a workforce of 75 nationwide. It is not a giant of industry with huge outlays for advertisements. In fact, it is considered a medium-scale business undertaking which is precisely what the country needs—small and medium-sized industries with good growth potential and providing employment for our people.
Wehave oligarchs, tycoons, billionaires, and so do other countries. But when 40 families control 80 percent of the country’s wealth, this is clearly a red flag that should be addressed, preferably in a peaceful and progressive manner. We need to build a strong and informed middle class in order to correct this imbalance in our economic and social development. Rene Ochoa’s Glenwood Technologies is an important part of the solution.