Judy Miranda Abalos: An Extraordinary Class Act

  • Written by Women's Journal
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Judy Miranda Abalos Judy Miranda Abalos

As is often in life, the third time is the charm. Judy Miranda Abalos who has been on the cover of Women’s Journal twice before is “it” again this lovely month of February. On WJ cover anew, herstory reveals more of one who is evolving from being a woman of steely reserve to one with quite extraordinary combination of brains and beauty. A class act all her own.

Fast forward from the past

Following her father’s strict way of inculcating discipline to all four siblings in her family – “education above all” – Judy grew up with the singular goal to succeed in life, taking to heart and mind further her father’s definition of womanhood that “education affords women to become self-determined, independent and truly beautiful if not powerful.” It has become her life’s mantra that has repeatedly worked for her as early as her kindergarten years up to earning a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy degree from De La Salle University in Manila.

Judy’s beauty and grace explains in a glance her several magazine cover invitations. It fortuitously led her to the would-be father of her offspring and their sojourn, from which she tendered her ideal of a life partner.

After a stint at the Asian Development Bank as fulfillment of her younger years’ wish to work in a bank – and perhaps become an international banker –  Judy is now totally on her own, a highly actualized corporate lady on top, hands-on, of her own real estate/property business.

Now, even if it seems like life is a bed of roses,  her time is taken by the demands of her superwoman roles – her current priorities are being a mother, entrepreneur and student. Judy just recently took another leap of faith, a second rounding off of her enthusiasm – her life’s journey indeed – that’s centered on education. With her enrollment in the Melbourne Business School of The Univesity of Melbourne for a masteral degree that, she says, would make her a better leader, Judy is also subconsciously conforming to its academic motto: “May I grow in the esteem of future generations.”

While the impression Judy makes could pass for a Love month story, on her third feature in the Women’s Journal, Judy Miranda Abalos focuses on how she has thrived in her multiple roles.

On a year-end break from business school, Judy concedes for a quick interview and here are excerpts from our lively conversation for this Women’s Journal “Love Month” issue.
Women’s Journal (WJ): What’s your routine nowadays?
Judy Miranda Abalos (JMA): My routine has been streamlined to the essential roles that I play. For almost a year now, I needed to fly in and out of Australia for my MBA degree. When in Manila, my time is spent on attending to my family and realizing business prospects. I slip in a little alone-time in the morning for a swim or at the gym. At night, I prepare for the next course module. Socializing has been limited to my family now; I miss them when I am in school and I especially reserve time for my Dad and Mom, who are both getting old.
WJ: Going to your MBA studies, how tough is it? Or how easy is it for you?
JMA: One often gets both ends of a thing. Having professionals and entrepreneurs for classmates requires adjustment, of course. What has been working for me was my first hand experience in business. Melbourne’s Senior Executive MBA program has helped me put a name on the practical knowledge that I gained through the years. It has been a discovery of theories behind practice.
WJ: You and your classmates are coming from different viewpoints, is that correct?
JMA: Everyone comes with his or her own viewpoints, values, skills, and approaches. We need to realize this whether we are in class, in business, or even just in familiar situations. This has been an important life lesson that MBA has given me.

WJ: Tell us more about this life lesson that you just mentioned.

JMA: It surprises many that the ultimate learning I have gained so far from business and business school is humility.

As a child, I took my parents’ advice to heart.

In school, especially now, I learned how much good differences in opinions and expertise can make. I once came at the outset with my business formula. Because I have attributed the growth of my career and business to this formula, it came handy during group discussions. Not surprisingly, however, each student has his or her own recipe for success. I learned slowly that business is about listening to people rather than applying your own rules. There are periods for negotiation and compromises and moments of assertion. You can win even without prevailing.

WJ: Your drive to finish the course is apparent. When are you graduating?

JMA: I am graduating this year. Completing this course follows humility again. As a child, I was fortunate to learn from my father and the university. Now, my teachers are other countries’ cultures and people.

This is a personal experience in business school and a chance to thank a good classmate, Dave Palmer.

I had difficulty in one subject, data analysis. Before the exams, he patiently taught me the steps and techniques. Suddenly, everything was quick and easy! I got a good grade in the exams and profusely thanked him. Instead of taking credit, he acknowledged my effort, telling me I earned the grade.

I never experienced how powerful emotional payments can be.

I went back to Manila and began to notice the hardwork of my employees. Asking for opinions and giving credit became very easy. Dave taught me that kind of leadership—one that empowers.

There’s also Vivek Chaudhri, who challenged me to adjust my own views instead of shaping others’ views in order to fit to mine. Leadership entails understanding what you can and cannot control.
WJ: After graduation, what will Judy Abalos be like?

JMA: I cannot belabour the point that this course has been humbling to me. I realized how fortunate I have been to have means and opportunities. My little wins will be defeated if they will stay with me so I am determined to impart whatever I can to others.

As a leader, I have been starting to put my employees first. You have to develop the people behind your business. Their successes—in work and family lives—are yours. I intend to empower them in the same way that I have been nourished by my parents, family, business colleagues, employees and faculty and classmates from Melbourne Business School. As grandiose as it sounds, I feel as if I ought to give others their respective opportunities. Education has been my privilege and I intend to make it a starting point for a few people who happened to be within my reach. This is a quest that I hope not to fail in.