In this series, we speak to IESE alumni from around the world to find out about the different paths they have followed and the impact of IESE on their lives.
Name: Ernesto (Enzo) Ladrido
Year of Graduation: 2016
Country of Residence: Philippines
Current Employer: CEO & President, Suntrak-Monde Nissin; CEO & President, Diversa Resources & Realty Corporation; Chairman, SIMPEX Machineries Inc.; Senior Vice President, Calaca Harvest Terminal Inc.; Director, Atlantic Grains Inc.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did your career begin and evolve?
Growing up, my summers were spent working for the family businesses in order to familiarize myself with each organization, its processes, its functional areas and its people. Our family businesses include flour milling, food manufacturing, commodities trading, port & terminal logistics and machineries manufacturing and trading. Still, before working full time for our group of companies, I originally had a finance background, having worked for Citibank, ING and Bank of the Philippine Islands.
Upon gaining enough work experience, my father spoke to me about pursuing graduate studies in business abroad. As a then budding entrepreneur, he had pursued his MBA locally. Still, it was always in the pipeline that pursuing an MBA abroad would hone the necessary skill set in order to become an effective and efficient leader.
Why did you choose IESE Business School?
I knew beforehand that studying abroad would give me new and different perspectives. In order to make a sound choice for business school, I attended a number of MBA fairs in Manila. I was originally inclined to pursue my MBA in the United States; however, it was during this time that the US economy was going through its recovery phase.
I knew that I wanted a world-renowned MBA program, with a very culturally diverse mix of students from different employment backgrounds. Still, the program had to be able to cater to my non-negotiables. First, they had to specialize in training next generation leaders. Second, I wanted to be able to study, analyze and discuss via a case-based method, the problems and eventual solutions of real-life companies. Third, I wanted to be in a school that would challenge me and push my technical competencies to its limits. IESE checked all the marks of my non-negotiables. Apart from this, living in beautiful, charming Barcelona didn’t hurt either – it being a melting pot of different cultures.
Since rejoining your family business, what has been your experience so far? How has your MBA helped you?
After my MBA, I started working in the family businesses. I am lucky to have worked and to have been mentored by my father. In addition, I was assigned and rotated to different functional areas from finance to accounting to human resources to procurement and finally, to operations. My father and our partners, realized that I fit well in operations. It was good for me as I would be out on the field, talking to people in the plants and meeting with different suppliers and customers. This familiarized me with every nook and cranny of all the facilities and sites.
My IESE education made me technically competent. My accounting and finance skills were honed, while analyzing reports and financial statements became a new norm. But more importantly, the program taught me about leadership and human behavior in organizations. When you learn to deal with people in a company, one must figure out and analyze their extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. One has to be willing to understand these underlying factors, beyond mere number crunching and making financial projections.
Having an MBA is not an excuse to feel as if you know everything that is going on. There is no substitute for experience. Even if I have assumed the position of CEO in some of our companies, sometimes you still have to listen to the people who have been there longer. One must not be afraid to ask for help and counsel. It is important to recognize the dedication, effort and expertise of your employees. When making difficult decisions that affect you and the people in your organization, always consider alternatives, opportunity cost, the time frame of your decisions and yes, gut-feel.
What are some of your experiences in the IESE MBA? What is your advice to future applicants?
First, your total experience in the MBA program can be likened to the three corners of a triangle. In no particular order, these are: (1) Excelling in school work, (2) Prioritizing social activities and (3) Maintaining personal priorities (family, health). At any given point in time, it would be best to prioritize 2 out of 3 corners. Though not impossible, giving each corner the same weighted priority would be rather challenging. Before starting the program, be clear on what you want out of your MBA. An MBA program is not the real world, but it comes pretty close to it. Juggling your personal life, finishing school work, adjusting to a foreign country life and establishing new friendships can be demanding and time consuming. The key to making the most of your MBA is to find your own balance.
The friendships you will make in the program are the ones you will treasure forever. Being a friend to someone does not mean that you have the same or different personality type. People will be coming from different walks of life, and your ability to adapt to these people is essential in making lasting connections. Utilize your MBA network, but at the same time, be sincere about your motives.
Outside your job, what are you passionate about?
I have always believed that education is a means to improve a person’s life. Especially in the Philippines, where many live below the poverty line, getting a college education is an enabling and empowering factor in helping a family overcome poverty. Education has a ripple or domino effect. If I can help one child acquire a college degree, I know that his and his family’s life will improve as well.
In line with IESE’s Doing Good and Doing Well (DGDW) program, my family’s educational scholarship foundation has been helping bright, deserving children, with little to no financial means, gain a college education.
Even with my father’s passing, my siblings and I have continued with our family’s educational scholarship program, and are preparing new activities for our beloved scholars. My siblings and I have pledged to increase our number of accepted scholars into the program each year.
I personally believe that one can never be too well-read or too well-educated. Indeed, one must never stop learning.
Thank you Enzo for sharing your story!
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