Woman at the helm

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


FOR the first time in its century of existence, a woman, Tess Chan, is heading the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

She is not Cebu-born, like many others in the chamber. The former Ma. Teresa Beltran was born in Davao but grew up in Bataan, which she considers her original hometown.

Tess finished Liacom course major in commerce from St. Scholastica’s College and is a certified public accountant. She also finished Masters in Management from Asian Institute of Management.

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After college, she worked as cost accountant for Petrochem, and then as senior financial analyst of the Human Settlements Development Corporation before she joined Philippine National Bank (PNB). She moved to Cebu after her marriage to David Chan.

They were supposed to settle down in Davao but shortly after their wedding, Chan’s father was kidnapped there. For a while, they thought of settling down in Manila but Chan could not stand the traffic in the city. So in 1987, they moved to Cebu and they have been here since.

In Cebu, Tess continued to work with PNB, this time as assistant senior manager. It was as PNB representative that Tess joined CCCI in 1992. In 2001, she retired from PNB as vice president (VP) and head of corporate control in Eastern and Central Visayas. She then took an STI franchise, which she has now given to her son.

The family is now into trucking and San Miguel beer distribution. Tess also operates a small call center. At the same time she has been doing all this work, she was also helping her Beltran family’s business in Bataan, where they are into residential estate subdivision and mall operation.

When she first joined CCCI as PNB representative, she got involved in committee doings and she saw how her “small” contribution could make a difference because through the organization one could become part of the engine for growth of Cebu.

She says: “Through the years, CCCI has really become credible. National, international agencies, and non-government organizations look to the chamber when they want collaboration and when they want to get things done. CCCI has become one of the major organizations which have contributed greatly to the progress of Cebu in partnership with local governments.”

Tess ran for the CCCI presidency because everyone was telling her it was time she did, after all the committees she chaired and after being VP for finance, VP for membership and Cebu Business Month chairperson.

As CCCI president, she said: “I would like to continue the good programs we have and to refocus as we have limited resources and we cannot spread ourselves too thin. I would also like to categorize our programs into short-term, medium term and long-term advocacy, and further classify our programs into those which benefit the business community and the community as a whole and those which benefit the members directly.

All our programs will hopefully create jobs not only to improve the bottom line of our member companies, but create jobs for the economic improvement of our people. I would like the chamber members to make a vibrant economy for Cebu, which creates jobs and addresses poverty.”

To realize all this will not be easy. But with Tess’ record of success in the CCCI committees she handled, it will not be an unreachable goal.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 19, 2014.

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