Irene Maranan is an impressive force in the corporate world.
She doesn’t appear like your typical alpha female in a high-pressure environment, unaware and unadaptive. No, Irene is naturally communicative and carries herself with a calm confidence. Immediately, you know you’re in the presence of someone who knows what to do and someone who has a clear sense of where she wants to be. Several years back, Irene’s compass pointed toward Ayala.
So when Ayala came calling in 2015, she took the offer to form the corporate communications of a new business unit — and she took the reins of handling sustainability for AC Energy Corporation.
“If my role is purely communications or marketing, lagi ko s’yang hinahahaluan ng CSR work or sustainability. Even if it’s not my role. Because that’s my passion, to give back. I make sure I align whatever I do with sustainability, influencing the management.”
An Emerging Leader
Irene’s clarity about her professional life was different when she was studying Mass Communications at St. Scholastica’s College.
Back then, her dream was to enter advertising. But fate would have other plans because right after an internship at GMA Network, Irene joined a small PR firm. A few months after doing PR projects, she had an opportunity to work for Globe, an exciting time then because telecommunications industry was still in its infancy in the country with only a handful of players.
Her two years at Globe would shape her future career and senior place in the corporate world. Although Irene’s experience at the Ayala company was a positive first glimpse, she decided to take an incredible opportunity from Chevron.
At Chevron, Irene dove deep into the corporate world, learning the standards and processes of a multinational company for seven years. The lengthy stint would come to an end because Irene started to toy with the idea of running her business, of becoming her own boss. Like every innovative thinker, a change in her familiar routine was Irene’s way of also resolving another development in her life: a baby daughter needing her attention.
Irene recounts how the commute from work to home was brutal, making her miss crucial time with her first daughter.
“It wasn’t an easy decision . . . I took the risk.”
That risk came in the form of a PR and marketing firm she put up with a few other friends as partners. The thriving business would last for three years; the corporate world would come calling once again and Irene responded with open arms. This time, she found herself in the real estate industry — again, at an exciting time when commercial and residential development was booming. It is here where Irene got her start with working toward sustainability, and ever since it’s become her passion.
As AC Energy’s vice president and head of corporate communications and sustainability, it’s also become her goal.
“The sustainability here . . . is really embedding it into the process. We integrated sustainability into how we think and how we do business.”
Building an Energy Brand
And that sort of mindset for a commercial organization has delivered in terms of growth and revenue. The then-business unit has become a core Ayala company in just under ten years. AC Energy’s skyrocketing growth has led to its expansion within the Southeast Asia region, increasing its renewable energy assets and projects outside the country.
The now-listed energy platform (PSE: ACEN) of Ayala Group has also issued green bonds and is also more than halfway (~2,600 MW) through its primary goal of reaching 5000 megawatts by 2025.
“It’s only our tenth year . . . We’re able to grow the company this fast and achieve those goals. We have been contributing a lot in terms of bottom line. Becoming a core company of Ayala is really a big deal for us. We started as zero. In 2011, we had zero megawatts.”
Behind the swift upward trajectory is hard work, not just in laying the groundwork for building the energy portfolio but also in determining its place in the market: AC Energy’s branding.
The buy in from the top execs to the middle management and the rank and file was made easier, Irene says, because of Design for Tomorrow.
“They (did) our brand personality. They did the patterns, messaging, the layouts, and the look and feel. They’re really very creative in terms of integrating the energy types in our branding. Because when they developed our brand, they were able to bring out the sun patterns, the wind patterns, the thermal, and interpret them into branding.
“What they have developed for AC Energy really made us a strong brand. The standards and consistency, the creativity play, the type of energy we have.”
And this strong brand of AC Energy, poised to be the largest listed renewable platform in Southeast Asia, has bigger plans in its future besides scaling its renewable assets. With its sustainability communications in alignment with the Paris Agreement, AC Energy Corporation is also committed toward divesting its coal plants by 2030.
“. . . We believe in a carbon-free world future. That’s what I’m really aiming for — for AC Energy.”
Writer Jen Tagasa
Photography Chris Yuhico
Date Published February 04, 2022