When I took up Management Engineering as a course in 1974, I already knew I wanted a career in the corporate world. The only question was, “In what field?” One day in fifth year, a friend who graduated from ME the year before (and double-majored in Math) came to visit the school. He strutted around, confident, wearing a coat and tie.  He looked like he had come from the office. So I asked him where he was working. He said, “Filipro.” I said, “Filipro? That doesn’t sound like anything I know. What are their products?” He said, “Oh, we manufacture and market Nescafe, Milo, Nido, and Maggi. Products of Nestle.” I said, “Wow. Those are big brands.” That encounter started my relationship with what is now known as Nestle.

While I applied in Nestle immediately after graduation, dreaming and being hired were of course two different things. At that time, there was no Google search to help us look for jobs. It meant listing down the companies I wanted to join and actually calling them to find out if they had any openings. For several days, I literally walked the length of Ayala and Buendia Avenues and went door to door among the multinational companies to apply. I received several offers, but I kept turning them down on the chance I would be accepted in Nestle, where I had applied for a marketing trainee position. Nestle accepted me in October of 1979 together with two others. Out of how many applicants, I can only imagine. But I felt so happy.

They first assigned me as trainee for Infant Nutrition, which gave me the opportunity to manage and work with people. It meant honing skills and motivating, handling, and learning from people. I met and became friends with midwives and health workers and, in our own small way, contributed to their professionalization by sponsoring continuing education programs. We also helped the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP) to raise midwifery to the level of a college degree. In return, the tens of thousands of midwives rewarded us by endorsing our products to the mothers of all the babies they delivered and catapulted Nestogen, our economically priced product, to Number One. This brought Nestogen to the level of the big brands like Nido and Nescafe.

Many times during my career I told myself that if Nestle no longer made me happy, I would leave. That situation never arose, but there was much to be thankful for.  First of all, the company valued training and knowledge sharing. They sent me to various parts of the world to make sure I got them. Second, they listened. When I said that I had always longed to pursue my MBA abroad, they sent me to IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a stipend and housing allowance on top of my regular salary. Third, they expatriated me three times: to Switzerland, Vietnam, and Indonesia, which exposed my children to various nationalities in international schools and gave them experiences that they could never have learned from any classroom.

Choy on vacation at the Canadian Rockies in 2016 with, from left, son Mark, wife Bingle and daughter Nicole.

I have been retired for five years now. I have had offers to be a consultant of this or that company or venture, but I have since moved on to other things I longed to pursue: my hobbies, keeping fit, travelling, and writing a book about my childhood. I look back and see my career, not in terms of what I achieved, but what I have given to those I love. I am lucky, I admit, to have had a good career and a loving family but, as with everything, these have happened only through the grace of God.


Choy Florendo (BSME 1979) is the author of Centro: Ateneo Days and Vigan Summers.

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