When the Well Runs Dry: It’s Time for Management

Written by Kayleen Cheng

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” — Benjamin Franklin

It’s astonishing how, to this day, we remain what Benjamin Franklin himself perceived society to be — individuals who neglect the value of water. This tasteless, odorless, and transparent fluid as we may or may not know it, is our source of life itself.

Now, you may be thinking how this short article will go on about the importance of conserving water — which of course, should definitely be practiced — but in all reality, it all boils down to our nation’s real problem — the management of it.

Last June 2, 2017, at the Mireo in Raffles Makati, the Harvard Business School Club of the Philippines held the first of its Business Breakfast Series and invited Dondi Alikpala and Ernesto Ordonez as speakers for a short panel discussion. They both tackled the topics “Water Situation in the Philippines” and “Addressing the Water Crisis in the Philippines.”

Dondi Alikpala, who has an MBA from Fordham University, served as a consultant and former director of the Natural Water Resources Board and the Department of Environment and Resources. He also was formerly the head of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

On the other hand, Ernesto Ordoñez is currently the secretary general of the National Water Roadmap and Summit. He was an undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry for 16 years and the former president of the ASEAN Federation of Cement Manufacturers. He earned his MA in Operations, Research, and Organizational Development from Yale University and his PhD in Business Administration from New York University.

Impressive and insightful, the panel discussion began at around 8:00 AM, with a brief presentation from Mr. Alikpala. It was followed by a more casual discussion with Mr. Ordoñez on the call for improved water management in the Philippines.

Present during the breakfast discussion were representatives from various companies such as Metro Pacific Water, Hiraya Water — even the CEO and president of Manila Water Company Inc. attended the event. Countless points of discussion such as the need for institutions, the call for the private sector to take action, and more were raised and discussed.

As soon as the breakfast discussion ended, we were not only filled with delightful pastries, but with food for thought as well. I can say that we all left with our glasses half full.

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About the author:

Kayleen is a graduate of De La Salle University-Manila with a bachelor of arts degree in Development Studies. Currently she is working as the club administrator of the Harvard Business School Club of the Philippines, where she coordinates among the alumni.