Benjamin ?Benjie? Fernandez, a maverick top executive of PLDT digital subsidiaries PayMaya and Voyager Innovations, has died and was buried on Sunday, June 11. He was 55.
His untimely departure on Tuesday, June 6, came after friends called for blood donations after he was rushed to the intensive care unit of St. Luke?s Medical Center in Quezon City.
A post in Facebook by a classmate, Jojy Azurin, said Fernandez was on respirator then with a lung infection. ?His platelets also went down so he needs a transfusion. Benjie needs more A+ blood donors,? the post stated.
Fernandez practically spent his whole professional life with Smart Communications due to his association with Smart founders Orlando B. Vea and the late Dave Fernando.
He was part of the Smart leadership team as head of procurement and GSM roll-out when the company was just starting out.
?Not a lot of people really know he’s behind many things. [Vea] and Fernando and him were like a troika. Then it became a tandem when Mr. Dave passed away,? said Nick Wilwayco, PR and communications head of Voyager Innovations where Fernandez served as co-chief operating officer.
Fernandez was also co-COO for digital payment firm PayMaya but most recently became the company?s chief product officer to concentrate on accelerating product development and innovations, according to Wilwayco.
Aside from helping to establish Voyager Innovations and PayMaya, he was also part of the leadership team that started and established Cignal TV.
Before Voyager and PayMaya, Benjie held senior executive positions in various companies within the PLDT group. Among these positions were president at Smart NTT Multimedia, head of technology management of MediaQuest, chief information and technology officer at Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5), and managing director at MediaScape (Cignal) and Smart Hub.
?At Voyager and PayMaya, he took many young people under his wings, providing guidance and helping many careers,? an internal statement from PLDT said.
?A visionary leader with a bias for action, Benjie oversaw many digital innovations launched and deployed to market. His passion, boundless energy, vision and insights were a source of inspiration and action among his colleagues, partners and friends,? the statement added.
On top of his corporate responsibilities, he also taught at the University of the Philippines Graduate School of Business and the Asian Institute of Management.