Hardhats look great on Alice Eduardo. So do elegant couture gowns and dazzling diamonds. One could say—and forgive the pun—that it’s in the construction; after all, Alice is as comfortable in a dusty construction site as she is at a glittering event in a luxurious hotel. But as any builder will tell you, it’s really all about the foundation. Beneath the hardhat and the glamorous lifestyle is a woman whose foundations are solid, unwavering, and authentic.
Alice Eduardo is a driven mother of three and the dynamo who founded and runs Sta Elena Construction and Development Corporation, a highly successful construction and engineering company. Sta Elena has grown into a serious player in the market: an AAA and Large B firm, which means it qualifies to bid for any billion-peso project.
She’s been dubbed “Woman of Steel” by many, a reference to both the nature of her business and the strength and resilience that has allowed her to reap today’s rewards.
In work as in life, she conducts herself with grace, intelligence, and compassion; not to mention grit and determination.
She has always been fascinated by bridges, tunnels, and subways. In fact, she wanted to take up engineering in college, but was persuaded by her parents to pursue management instead. While still in school, she helped with the family businesses in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, which included a bowling centre, rice milling and trading, and their Manila-based garment exports.
“My first break came when our family’s rice mill was supplying rice to the office of Concrete Aggregates [CA] in the ’90s. I had developed a good rapport with the CA team and they encouraged me to supply other items to them, in particular steel splices. It’s a construction material specific to concrete piles that are, in turn, used for building structural foundations. It was at that moment that I decided, ‘Well, no guts no glory.’ That was also the day pile driving became part of my daily vocabulary. I gave an enthusiastic ‘yes’ for an answer, and figured I would learn what I needed to learn and do what I needed to do to make it happen. Richard Branson said it very well: ‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later!’ It was then after having delivered steel splices to the jobsites of CA that I learnt about the business of foundations and pilingworks and the rest is history.”
She’s been dubbed ’ Woman of Steel’ by many’ a reference to both the nature of her business and the strength and resilience that has allowed her to reap today’s rewards
The notion of “foundation”—in the sense of establishment as well as anchor or grounding—is reflected in the name Alice chose for her company. “Sta Elena” is derived from Saint Helena, the Roman empress who was an architect and builder and was said to have discovered Christ’s cross in Jerusalem. Helena’s own life was not easy; her husband, the Emperor Constantius, renounced her for political reasons. She is credited with influencing her son, who became Constantine the Great, to embrace Christianity and declare it the official religion of the Roman Empire. In effect, Helena’s conversion to the Christian faith changed the course of history and became the bedrock of Catholicism.
For Alice, her own grounding is based on family, friendships, faith, and philanthropy. “My relationships with family and friends are my own living structural foundations. The emotional and moral support I am blessed to receive from them gives me the strength to go the extra mile in all that I do. It also gives me a soft pillow to sleep on when challenges are great.”
Her close-knit family starts with her three children: Jacqueline (23), who graduated at Ateneo de Manila, is focusing on Sta Elena’s administration and human resources department; Jameson (21), who is homeschooled; and Jessica (19), who is currently studying at the Ateneo de Manila. “Each of my children possesses unique qualities that all combine to make them my true partners in life.”