Philippine tycoons

Next generation of Ayala leaders step into the spotlight at media party

Ralf Rivas

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Next generation of Ayala leaders step into the spotlight at media party

MEDIA NIGHT. Jaime Urquijo, Jaime Alfonso, and Mariana Zobel de Ayala host the inaugural media night of the Ayala Group on Friday, February 16, 2024.

Ralf Rivas/Rappler

Mariana and Jaime Alfonso Zobel, together with their cousin Jaime Urquijo, meet some members of the Philippine press in the inaugural media night by the Ayala Group

The eighth-generation of Zobel de Ayalas, the clan that controls the Philippines’ oldest conglomerate, got to know members of the press through its inaugural media night.

For the first time, the daughter of Ayala Group chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Mariana, son Jaime Alfonso, and nephew Jaime Urquijo went all on stage for some brief speeches, happily played some party games, and danced to ballroom music. 

The Zobel brothers, Jaime Augusto and Fernando, were noticeably absent in the event in Dusit Thani in Makati. The last media night they attended was in 2019.

Ayala executives told some reporters that the media night, held last Friday, February 16, was meant to highlight the next C-suite leaders.

Meeting the press for the first time is some sort of rite of passage for any business leader. Informal events, more so a party, is the best time for the public to have a glimpse of their character. The media also uses this social event to give out their calling cards, with some even attempting to ask burning questions about the companies they cover.

Mariana, who was deemed somewhat shy by some members of the media in previous events, was the most energetic of the three on media night. She was the most competitive in the party games, strategizing how her team would give the best answers in a game of Family Feud hosted by Ogie Alcasid.

Meanwhile, two young men also loosened up, bantering with the press on the sidelines of the event.

GAME NIGHT. Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala picks a topic for a game of Family Feud hosted by Ogie Alcasid, while Jaime Urquijo and Mariana Zobel de Ayala wait for their turn. Photo by Ralf Rivas/Rappler.

The three are expected to engage with the media even more, as they assume bigger responsibilities and eventually take over in leading Ayala Corporation (AC) and its subsidiaries with interests in real estate, banking, telecommunications, energy, health, logistics, and other industries.

It’s also important for the public to get to know them. During the party, AC Logistics president Rene Almendras emphasized that the Ayala clan was instrumental in the development of key infrastructure and real estate in the Philippines.

Prior to media night, Mariana, Jaime Alfonso, and Jaime were last seen together in a Christmas party for the conglomerate’s employees.

Stacked credentials

Mariana, the eldest of Jaime Augusto and Lizzie Zobel de Ayala, was named senior vice president of Ayala Land and president of Ayala Malls last October 2023. 

City, Metropolis, Urban
LEADER. Ayala Malls president Mariana Zobel de Ayala. Photo by Ralf Rivas/Rappler.

Just recently, she led Ayala Land’s unveiling of the P13-billion redevelopment plan for their flagship malls.

The 36-year-old is also a board member of AREIT Inc. and was the senior vice president of Bank of the Philippine Islands. 

She has a degree in social studies from Harvard and an MBA from INSEAD.

Her brother, Jaime Alfonso, is currently the head of AC Motors. 

NEW LEADER. AC Motors CEO Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala. Photo by Ralf RIvas/Rappler

His first major media engagement was in October 2023, when AC Motors and Bosch unveiled a plan to open some 20 new outlets in 2024 and expand the network to 60 in the next five years. The partnership will serve current internal combustion engine-run vehicles and will eventually have repair and maintenance capabilities for electric vehicles.

The 34-year-old is also a Harvard graduate and has an MBA from Columbia. He graduated from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with primary concentration in government in 2013, and got his Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School in New York, in 2019. 

The cousin of Mariana and Jaime Alfonso, Jaime Urquijo, is currently Ayala Corporation’s chief sustainability and risk officer (photo below).

The 36-year-old is also the director of BPI, Integrated Micro Electronics, AC Industrial Technology Holdings, and Merlin Solar Technology. He was previously ACEN’s vice president for business development, leading the company’s portfolio expansion in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. 

Jaime earned his degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame and boasts of an MBA from INSEAD.

With the three stepping into the spotlight and embracing bigger roles, should the media expect more interviews with them? Perhaps a guesting on Rappler’s Business Sense soon? –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.