For the second straight year of honoring “game-changing” Chief Financial Officers, the country’s most outstanding finance steward this year is, again, a woman.
PLDT’s Anabelle Lim Chua was awarded the 2021 ING-Finex CFO of the Year in the 15th edition of the longest-running and most prestigious award program for finance chief officers. The search looks at CFO’s four major qualities—as a strategist, catalyst, steward, and operator—which Anabelle passed with flying colors.
“I always believe that numbers need to tell the story,” Anabelle said. “We have to make our people understand what these numbers are saying. We have to look at the people, the work they put in, what they’re doing to achieve these numbers. And that has made me realize that being a CFO is much more than knowing my numbers – that being an outstanding CFO meant being a positive force in all aspects of the business, in all parts of the organization.”
Now in her 23rd year with PLDT, Anabelle serves as the company’s SVP, chief finance officer, and chief risk management officer. She said her job has evolved through the years—going well beyond managing cash flows and maintaining financial viability. Anabelle is also a director of Meralco, another listed company in the MVP group, chairing its Board Finance Committee. She is also a director of the Philippine Stock Exchange, representing the Issuers sector.
Anabelle has been pivotal in sealing several landmark deals, such as a USD 600-million bond issuance in 2020. The feat marked PLDT’s return to the international capital market after an 18-year hiatus. As a result, ite International Financing Review recognized it as the Philippines’ “Best Capital Market Deal of the Year.”
A CPA Board topnotcher, Anabelle graduated magna cum laude after taking up BS Business Administration and Accountancy at the University of the Philippines (Diliman) in the ’80s. Despite never having gone to graduate school or taking up an MBA like many of her peers, she managed to prove her mettle in finance, even amid turbulent times.
MVP Group chairman Manny V. Pangilinan fondly recalls his first encounter with Anabelle, describing her as a “tough lady.”
“Anabelle can stand up to somebody like myself and always do the right thing through the ups and downs of this company,” Manny said. “She has always dared to disclose what’s good and not so good after all these years.”
Meanwhile, PLDT president and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio lauds Anabelle’s critical thinking, keen business acumen, and analytical mind.
“Anabelle is a powerful finance person and a very critical thinker,” Panlilio said. “That helps me in my job, as well as the management committee. When we discuss business matters, initiatives, and products, she can challenge those very critical discussions on where we want to bring the company.”
Anabelle is the second consecutive female to win the prestigious CFO of the Year award, which speaks volumes about the excellence in leadership of women in power amid trying times.
“An outstanding CFO displays strong and balanced leadership across a wide array of activities and multiple organizations,” Anabelle said. “We need to lead by setting a ‘tone at the top’ that cascades into a culture of excellence for everyone in the group.”
The ING-FINEX CFO of the Year award was launched in 2006 through a permanent partnership between the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the country’s premier organization for finance and business professionals, and ING Bank, NV. The search was envisioned to inspire the next generation of Philippine financial leaders by recognizing the work of those making their mark in the present.