ISABELITA “EISA” PAREDES MERCADO
CHAIRPERSON AND CEO, IPM HOLDINGS INC
Celebrated as among the country’s most influential companies in environmental management, IPM Holdings, Inc and its extensive subsidiaries boast mammoth operations spanning construction, property development, waste management and even alternative fuel. At the core of these herculean tasks and gigantic triumphs is chairperson and CEO Isabelita Paredes Mercado: a fearless entrepreneur, a woman who has braved a man’s world for 35 years and counting.
Of the countless projects realised under Mercado’s watchful eye, there are two she is most proud of. First, Quezon City’s Payatas landfill—not simply for the victory of being awarded such a monumental contract, but for the humbling and eye-opening experience of witnessing the inhumane conditions of neighbouring impoverished communities. “We felt the responsibility to help improve and change these people’s lives, so it became our self-imposed responsibility to take care of them,” she admits. This humble ambition inspired Mercado and her team to enrol out-of-school children, teach illiterate parents how to read through adult education courses and reward college scholarships to the most promising students. In addition, the company has even arranged to develop and construct housing units for over 350 families currently residing in dangerous areas.
The second initiative marries this desire for social welfare with the pressing issue of sustainability. “We all have a stake in the environment we live in,” she states, declaring “, investing our time, talents, and resources is the way to protect our planet, and there is no other time but now”. The Trash to Cashback waste diversion programme aims to close the loop through data-driven waste management tools for stakeholders, incentives earned through the exchange of recyclables and fostering a spirit of Bayanihan throughout the community. These dedicated, heartfelt endeavours are just a few of the many celebrated by numerous organisations, from the Asia CEO Awards to the Child Protection Network.
“I must admit that I wasn’t in a man’s world by accident,” she confesses, “I chose to be part of it. I didn’t mind having construction sites as my workplace. What fuels me to go beyond my comfort zone is the drive to succeed.” Indeed, Mercado acutely acknowledges the male-dominated industry in which she is a formidable player. But utilising creativity, leadership, teamwork and, perhaps most importantly, empathy, she has brought her companies to heights no man has gone before.