Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi – The Trailblazing Filipina
With her grace, warm attitude and cheerful smile, it is sometimes hard to imagine that a consummate lady like Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi could figure so highly in a company that deals with corrosives, construction material and nuclear testing, and yet she does. Not only is she a card-carrying member of the well-renowned Geoscience Testing Laboratory, she leads the company. As CEO, she oversees the operation of 4 branches and 54 laboratories, and looks after over 700 employees.
Mary Jane is renowned not just as an inspirational personality in the Filipino community, but also as a key figure in the Middle East business community and a global force for women empowerment. Her list of accolades is as lengthy as it is diverse and far-reaching: Illustrado Woman of Substance, Emirates Woman of the Year, recipient of the Blas F Ople award for exemplary OFW’s, recipient of the Presidential “Pamana ng Pilipino” award. She is widely recognized for opening doors and breaking racial barriers for Filipinas in the Gulf.
One of her most admired initiatives was the Filipino Digerati Association, which she established with the help of her friends in 2008 with the purpose of uplifting the standards of the Filipino work force in the United Arab Emirates. Their knowledge and skill-building programs produced some of the most valued Filipino employees in the region, with many gaining higher positions in their respective companies or moving onto more important and lucrative employers. Her leadership style is characterized by a keen focus on creating and fostering a culture of Excellence. She expounds, “I strongly believe that achievement and value creation in the organization will not be sustained if one is without the other,” she says. “It is my duty to build a culture. Work gets done through people, and people are profoundly affected by culture. A lousy work environment can drive away high performers.”
She says that as a leader, she creates a compelling purpose, tells a story about aspirations and vision for the company, and articulates clear values and behaviours for the organization. “Helping people is my main advocacy,” she says. “It is my way of celebrating the greatness of God and thanking Him for all the blessings He continues to bestow upon me.”