New IBM PH chief: The best is yet to come

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[/caption] Almeda-Winhoffer, the first female country general manager of IBM Philippines, says the local landscape has changed tremendously since 1995 when she last visited the Philippines. At that time, the country was still reeling from the twin devastations brought about by the 1990 earthquake and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo the following year. The series of coup d?etats in the years prior also pushed investors out of the country, creating economic stagnation. ?It?s much, much better now. Everything is so different. There?s more energy and optimism,? shares Almeda-Winhoffer in her first media interview since being named to the prestigious post in January. Her stint in the US started in the 1980s when, after taking up basic schooling in the Philippines, she enrolled at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York to study finance and computer science. By the time she graduated in 1985, cum laude, she had already spent internship work at IBM ? a move she long planned since she was already eyeing to become part of the tech giant. ?When I was still a student and I was walking in New York, I saw an IBM logo. I said to myself ?Someday I?m going to work for that company,? she reminisces. ?So when IBM offered me a job after my internship, I readily accepted it.? Along the way, she married American Ernest Winhoffer and gave birth to four children: Nicole, Ernest Jr, Michael, and Mark. She has never worked for any other company except for IBM, sticking with Big Blue even during the time when the company teetered on the brink of collapse in the early 1990s. But, as the company recovered and pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of business, Almeda-Winhoffer also started her climb of the corporate ladder. She occupied top executive posts within IBM that allowed her to work with the company?s decision-makers. In fact, prior to being named chief of IBM Philippines, she reported directly to the chairman and provided support for global client engagements. It was through these global roles that she saw firsthand the emerging importance of the Philippine as a global ICT hub for IBM and the whole tech industry. So, when the offer came to relocate to the Philippines, there was almost no second-thoughts on her part. ?My life was already settled in the US since my mom and my family were already there. But, when they looked around and asked me ? perhaps it helped that I was also a Filipina ? if I was willing to take up the job, I said yes,? she recalls. [caption id="attachment_2577" align="aligncenter" width="331" caption="With her mother, husband, and children in Chicago, Illinois (from her Facebook account)"][/caption] Almeda-Winhoffer, whose passionate demeanor was palpable throughout the interview held at the IBM office in Eastwood City, says the Philippines is in a very unique position to capitalize on the technological revolution sweeping the world. ?In the case of IBM, our Philippine office is the only subsidiary in the region which has a sales division, an innovation lab, and global delivery center,? she points out. ?We have a huge potential for growth.? Going home on the same year that the company is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary in the country also gives an added significance for Almeda-Winhoffer, the first female exec to lead IBM Philippines. Interestingly, IBM Corporation also marked its centennial last year with the appointment of its first woman CEO and president, Virginia Rometty. Aside from the hardware and software products that IBM has provided to local businesses and institutions over the last 75 years, Almeda-Winhoffer says she also takes pride in the company?s investment in global delivery centers and R&D labs in the country. ?We?ve also helped to enhance the talent management pool in the country through our Corporate Service Corps,? she shares. While a new era has descended on IBM Philippines with a woman now calling the shots, Almeda-Winhoffer stresses that she intends to build on the contributions made by her predecessors. Almeda-Winhoffer is aware of the caliber of executives that the local subsidiary has produced over the years. Apart from the long line of IBMers who went on to lead other top IT firms, some became influential policy makers such as former Commission of Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairs Virgilio ?Ver? Pena and Ramon Sales, and current ICTO deputy executive director Alejandro ?Buds? Melchor III. ?My plan is to operationalize the vision of IBM and align it with agenda with the government,? she says. ?This way, we can help make Philippine business become global.? She notes that the company, which encountered some issues with government-owned pension firm GSIS during the previous administration, has a smooth relationship with the Aquino government. She points to the recent deal signed in Malacanang in which IBM and the Department of Science and Technology will collaborate to put up a R&D facility dedicated in creating IT solutions for the public sector. A top recruit, Delfin ?Jay? Sabido IX, will be in charge of the initiative. Sabido, a former professor at the UP College of Engineering and a PhD graduate of Stanford University, once headed the National Computer Center and the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the DOST. ?So, we are really in a position to push the envelope,? Almeda-Winhoffer enthuses. ?We?re just beginning. The best is yet to come.” ]]>

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