INAEC president Benjamin R. Lopez with his wife Georgina and childrenWhen Benjamin R. Lopez was designated as president of INAEC six years ago, he had to learn the business of aviation quickly, so the company could eventually transform itself from being viewed as a cost center to a profit center.
“The first thing I learned is that when you come into a business that you don’t know anything about, you better be ready to ask a lot of questions. The more questions you ask, the better the learning is. I learned the value of questioning assumptions. I understood that there’s always something more to learn, it never stops and I’m still nowhere near being an expert in this field,” said Lopez.
It helped that the then 10 employees in INAEC welcomed him with open arms. “The more they saw me trying to understand the business, the more they appreciated it; and the more we cooperated, the greater the growth potential the company had.”
Before taking on general management responsibilities, Lopez worked in sales, business development and corporate communications. He worked in sales for a chemical trading company in Singapore in the early ‘90s. He then joined First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH) with the business development unit then looking at several projects, among them were in exports. A couple of years later he was seconded to Rockwell Land Corporation to be among its pioneers.
“I was assigned to work in business development and then later moved to sales and then to construction. We started out with only about five employees, so we were practically doing everything all at the same time. Thosewere very busy years.”
He stayed in Rockwell for close to 10 years before being recalled to FPH. He was later tasked to head the corporate communications function in FPH, aside from his duties under the office of the chairman.
Today, he continues his work in FPH while concurrently serving as assistant to the president of Lopez Inc., Oscar M. Lopez (OML), who is now also chairman emeritus of FPH and its publicly listed parent company, Lopez Holdings Corporation (LPZ). In this capacity, he is expected to exercise responsibility over assets owned by Lopez Inc., the privately held parent firm of LPZ. Thus, in addition to FPH, he makes time for assignments in INAEC, Adtel, and the management and development of its various real properties.
And as far as work in INAEC goes, both assets under management and headcount have doubled in the last six years. He gives full credit to the INAEC board and team members who have worked so hard to move the company toward the aspired-for viability and profitability.
“The human aspect of a business is always the most important. It’s very important to develop the dynamic to engage people in a creative and productive way…We have to work together on practicing our core values of excellence, safety, passion and customer service to ensure we get happy clients. Repeat business means long-term engagements, which is what we want,” Lopez said.
By focusing on the basics, that is, instilling values on the-ground, Lopez believes INAEC equips and enables its team members to delight customers and prepare the foundation for future growth.
“We can never really be satisfied with a good enough level of satisfaction. It’s important to keep on trying to improve yourself. It’s a life lesson not just for work, but at a human level, I have seen this with my dad (OML). I think we all need to continue learning, improving and adding value. So in terms of business, we keep on raising the bar…and hopefully, profits will follow. Some people tell us, ‘Why stick with the name, it has no recall.’ We tell them: Stick with INAEC: it’s a name you may not remember, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget!”