It’s been four years since Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al-Mahdi has been hailed as one of Illustrado’s Women of Substance.
But through all the recent accolades – her recent Emirates Woman – Visionaries Award, the Bagong Bayani, her inclusion in the 100 Most Influential Filipinas in the World, among other commendable developments in her life.
Her story remains the same – that of an empowered Filipina who has shown the world that she can compete, excel and eventually lead, with sheer talent, determination and hard work – as well as a generous helping of good old Pinay charm.
We look back at Mary Jane’s past (from Illustrado’s Women of Substance 2009) –
Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi
Outstanding Professional-Trailblazing Filipina
from ILLUSTRADO WOMEN of SUBSTANCE 2009
Story by Lalaine Chu-Benitez; Photography by Mac Antonio
She led us through chemical labs smelling of foul waste water, through to dusty corridors where concrete slabs were stacked and tested for torque, weather resistance and other technical parameters mere mortal like us do not understand. Along the way, she stops and points to a nuclear test lab in one corner of the complex. All this time, her elegant abaya was fluttering in her stride as technical staff, mostly male, acknowledged the presence of ‘madame’. Taking in the surreal scene, I had to make a mental note to remember that this confident lady before us, is in fact a Pinay – a simple Filipina who has managed to break quite a few stereotypes in her trailblazing professional life.
Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi, is quite the picture of female empowerment – a role model not only for Filipinas but for Emirati women as well. The San Pablo, Laguna native is the first Filipina to have won in the prestigious Emirates Business Women’s Award (EBWA) in 2008, the first runner in the Professional Category – now part of an elite group of females lauded by the UAE government in lieu of their professional excellence, exemplary works and leadership. CEO of Geoscience Testing Laboratories (GTL) a multi-discipline testing company, Mary Jane runs a multimillion company with over 700 employees, with 4 branches around the country and 54 laboratories. GTL counts the prestigious Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Metro as but a few of their impressive projects.
A Chemical Engineering graduate, she started as a humble chemist in Al Futtaim in 1992, armed with a hard work, patience and typical Pinoy talent for fostering good relationships, not to mention putting a premium on her professional education by earning two masters degree, one in Quality Management and another in Engineering System Management, the GTL in 1998 – before her birthday. She was eventually promoted to CEO in 2003. Mary Jane admits that she has been very fortunate to have been nurtured by the company which has puts so much trust in her abilities. She also explains the definitive reason for her success _”My failures. If I didn’t make mistakes, I will probably not be successful as I am today.”
Married to an Emirati man and mother of two, the self made top executive says that she is also lucky to have a husband and in-laws who have welcomed her to their family and have given her support in her endeavors. “My mother and father-in-law were the proudest parents when I received my award last year,” she remarked.
With the EBWA just recently concluded, Mary Jane has been occupied with invitation to high profile events, speaking engagement, interviews, and has been featured in a documentary on local TV channel City 7. Through all the flurry of activities, she confesses that she’s surprised with all the fuss and how much attention has been given to her because, according to her, she still feels the same normal person. Truly, it is quite refreshing to see that despite success and good fortune, Mary Jane does not exude an air of arrogant self-importance and instead retains her sweet Pinay persona. She also still finds the time and motivation to support the Filipino community as one of the founders of the Filipino Digerati Association providing free computer application training to kababayans in the emirates.
Whether she is making a groundbreaking statement of empowerment for Filipina and Emirati women, or showing that a simple girl can carve out her own hugely successful future, or debunking the myth that money and power corrupts, the story of Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi serves as an inspiration from quite a number of outstanding angles.