When one talks about “being at the right place at the right time,” it usually means a happy coincidence. But what happens if opportunities present themselves at a not-so-ideal time?

It was during her third year in college when Ms. Genevieve Manalad, now the president of Savemore, found herself at a cashier in SM Fairview. She still vividly remembers how she and her sister lost their parking ticket, revealing how they even went through the bins to check. This is how Ms. Manalad begins to tell her 24-year career as the leader of the fastest-growing format in SM’s food retail brand portfolio.

Seeing the staff at an energetic pace, assisting customers left and right, Ms. Manalad found something that clicked — albeit in the most serendipitous way possible. Witnessing that kind of drive left her with a lasting impression and a goal: to work in a company as dynamic as this.

“I saw the supervisors, I can still remember them,” she recalled. “They were walking to the customer service and they were so busy! At the time, SM Fairview was the number one store with super high traffic. I told my sister that when I graduate, I want to work here.”

What appealed to her most was the fast-paced environment, similar to what she witnessed on that fateful day at SM Fairview. “It’s always a lot of people going in and out of the supermarket,” she said. “You know, making sure it operates well. I like that kind of job.”

President in the making

Ms. Manalad had an arduous task ahead of her. The application process itself had a three-hour interview with the managing director. Hired on the spot, she rose through the ranks after her initial stint as a management trainee. She eventually became the head of the Operations Department and worked side-by-side with then-president Jojo Tagbo before leading Savemore at the helm.

“If you want to know a person who is homegrown, then that’s me, because I never worked with another company except for SM,” Ms. Manalad said.

One of her first branch assignments was at SM Makati—a rite of passage of some sort, since all the leaders were assigned to this SM at some point. It is often dubbed as their ‘university’ for aspiring leaders in the company. Her visitors included the founder himself, Mr. Henry Sy, Sr., as well as Mr. Herbert T. Sy, the chairman of Super Value Inc. (the company responsible for operating all SM Supermarkets).

One of her key takeaways from this experience was to always keep an open communication with the top management.

The first female president of Savemore

Savemore Market President Ms. Genevive S. Manalad (third from right) at the opening of Savemore’s 215th store in Air Mall; in the photo are (from left to right) JS Unitrade President Mr. Samuel Po, Bounty Fresh Senior Vice President Ms. Terry Chen, SM Markets Executive Director Mr. Herson Sy, Blue Mountain CEO Mr. Antonio Villasenor, Abbott General Manager Mr. Stephen Garbanzos, beside Ms. Genevive S. Manalad is SM Hypermarket President Mr. Arnold Daluz, and SCMC Asst. Vice President Operation Mr. Royston Cabuñag.

Through her experiences, she has refined her skills and developed a deep love for her profession, spurring her to set her sights on loftier objectives and work tirelessly to accomplish them. With a combination of her innate charm and honed expertise, she takes on every hurdle that comes her way with grace and poise, making it a part of her vibrant lifestyle.

This was even true when she found herself in an unusual circumstance leading up to the announcement of her appointment as president that caused her to miss the actual announcement event.

She may have missed that, but it does not change the fact that she made history as the first female president of Savemore – a remarkable achievement worth celebrating for the years to come.

After all, in the words of Mr. Herbert T. Sy, the position of leadership in SM Markets is not only for men, but also for women.

On staying ahead of the game as a female leader

For Ms. Manalad, it’s all about being on top of everything and anything that’s going on across all stores. Focus is key, above all.

According to her, “While it’s possible to delegate there are certain crucial areas that require my strategic attention.” Taking a hands-on approach is essential to effectively manage the day-to-day operations of Savemore’s vast network of over 200 stores.

The same goal that initially drew her to apply with SM is still the very same one she strives for in Savemore as she continues to work towards achieving it with determination and enthusiasm.

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