Rene Ochoa and the AIM Class of 1975

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION -

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.

RAMONJ. FAROLAN

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