Game-changing CFO of the Year 2021

Published November 23, 2021, 5:07 AM

by Flor G. Tarriela

Now on its 15th year, the ING-FINEX CFO of the Year Award that honors outstanding chief financial officers goes to Anabelle Chua, PLDT CFO and Risk Management Officer. Congratulations to Anabelle for being the finest among the best of the Chief Finance Officers in the Philippines and winning the “OSCAR” for CFOs!

Which companies have been recognized for their CFOs?

Ayala Group, known for its good governance, got the lions share, six out of 15 awardees with Delfin Gonzales of Globe as the first awardee; Sherisa Nuesa and Chito Oreta from Manila Water, Jimmy Ysmael and Agusto Bengson from Ayala Land, and Jose Teodoro Limcaoco from BPI.  SM Group has two with Joe Sio of SM Investment and Jeffrey Lim of SM Prime. Others are San Miguel Corp. – Ferdinand Constantino, GMA7 – Felipe Yalong; Jollibee Group -Ysmael Baysa; Shell Exploration – Jerome“Jeng” Pascual; and Robinsons Retail Holdings – Mylene Kasiban. The MVP group has two awardees -Danny Yu of Philex and now Anabelle.

The past two years 2020-2021 were quite challenging due to the pandemic. Its noteworthy that last year, a woman, Mylene, was the awardee prompting Mike Toledo, the event host, to say“ women manage well in a crisis; if you want something done, give it to a woman.”

How does one get selected as CFO of the year? What are the criteria and process involved?

First, the criteria, used since 2014 were based on the four roles of a CFO:

*Operator – balance capabilities, talent, costs and service levels to fulfil the finance organization’s core responsibilities efficiently;

*Steward – protect and preserve the critical assets of the organization and accurately report on the financial position and operations to internal and external stakeholders;

*Catalyst – catalyze behaviors across the organization to execute strategic and financial objectives while at the same time creating a risk intelligent culture;

*Strategist – provide financial leadership in determining strategic business direction, M&A, financing, capital market, and longer-term strategies vital to the future performance of the company.

The chairman of the 2021 CFO of the Year committee was Enrique “Jet” Pampolina, Partner at Deloitte Philippines with P&A Grant Thornton partner Renan Piamonte as Vice Chair. To search for nominees, a search and selection panel was formed composed of Yoly Albano, Lorraine Belo Cincochan, Domingo Go, Jose Luis Gomez, Jerome Pascual and Euney Mata-Perez.

Then each identified nominee was assigned “champions” which included: Arthur Arana, Albert Gamboa, Carmen Serina, Nestor Tolentino and Mildred Vitangcol. Nenette De Jesus was in charge of the successful hybrid event held at New World Hotel and Edith Dychiao for Media Relations.

Despite the challenges of the lockdown, the search outcome was excellent. The distinguished Board of Judges, chaired by Dr. Jess Estanislao Chairman Emertius of the Institute of Corporate Directors were: Emilio Aquino, Chairman, Securities & Exchange Commission; Carol Dominguez, CEO of John Clements Consultant Inc.;  Chiqui Escareal-Go, CEO of Mansmith and Fielders Inc.; Francisco Lim, President, FINEX; Brother Bernard Oca, FSC, President, De La Salle University; and Hans Sicat, Country Manager, ING Bank Philippines and major sponsor of the CFO of the Year.

Anabelle, a CPA topnotcher, has over 30 years of experience in the areas of corporate finance, treasury, financial control and credit risk management. She played a crucial role in sealing the $600-M PLDT bond issuance in 2020.  She was a Vice President of Citibank N.A. where she worked for 10 years prior to moving PLDT in 1998. It was in Citi corporate finance that I met Anabelle; we worked on corporate finance deals where I represented the customer relationship side.  She demonstrated, even then, to be hard working, sharp with numbers, highly dependable, a critical thinker and trustworthy. Always simple, she never liked the limelight on herself so it’s just wonderful that she agreed to be nominated for the CFO of the year and go thru the process. Her boss Manny Pangilinan had nothing but praises for her as a true partner in the business. Congratulations Anabelle for a well-deserved recognition!

The CFO of the Year was a huge success thanks to the CFO committee teamwork. Many find this year to be one of the best years of FINEX with the able leadership of President Francis Lim. Looking forward to an equally significant year with incoming FINEX President, KPMG Partner Mike Guarin.

Thanksgiving week, in everything let us give thanks. This Christmas let us remember its the true meaning. Stay safe!


Ms. Tarriela was the first Chairwoman of the Philippine National Bank. She was the first and only independent director/ chairwoman in the commercial banking industry. She is a former Undersecretary of Finance and the first Filipina vice-president of Citibank N.A.  She is an Institute of Corporate Directors fellow and Finex trustee where she is liason director the ING-Finex CFO of the Year.

A gardener and an environmentalist, she established Flor’s Garden in Antipolo, an ATI Accredited National Extension Service Provider and a DOT Accredited Agri Tourism Site.

(The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)