End-to-end investor relations: The IR journey of rising star Giovanna Vera
I joined Century Pacific Food in 2014, while it was in the middle of executing an IPO. At that time, I had minimal work experience having just graduated from university two years prior.
Out of necessity, however, I was quickly thrust into a leadership role – overseeing the deal process that was previously being handled by the CEO and CFO.
Several sleepless nights later, Century Pacific successfully listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, putting the onus on me to now create an IR program from scratch.
This involved not only developing our communication strategies, but also laying out the pipework that would get out financial and business information like clockwork.
To do that, I had to first shape and explain my function internally, proving that an IR officer could still create value even after the listing of the company.
I worked up support internally, encouraging colleagues to embrace life being publicly listed with both excitement and openness.
Due to my inexperience, I also consciously sought mentors among the IR, sell-side and buy-side communities, all of whom endured my endless questions and requests for feedback.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I worked to win the trust of our principal owners. Together, we made long-term thinking our guide. This meant being open and honest, not only about the business’ opportunities, but its various challenges as well.
In this regard, I’ve taken a view that, in an IR role, you can only be as good as the company’s principals allow you to be. It is a job where you speak for them and on their behalf. Without their trust, no strategy or technique will help you do the best possible job.
The circumstances of my joining Century Pacific were also a first taste of what I’ve now coined ‘end-to-end IR’ – where the IR function is involved in all stages of both raising and utilizing capital.
Since then, I’ve officially expanded my role to include not only IR, but treasury and corporate finance as well. While planning and directing investor relations, I also analyze and execute various investment and M&A opportunities for the group.
Foremost of these, since Century Pacific’s IPO, was the acquisition of Shakey's Pizza Asia Ventures in 2016.
Months after closing that deal, we listed Shakey's as well – a repeat for me in terms of the many efforts that went into setting up Century Pacific for its own listing a few years ago.
Today I find myself in a unique position, differentiated from the more conventional IR function: I oversee the execution of capital raising activities for both equity and debt, get involved in the investing and utilization of the funds, and work on maintaining our companies’ credibility in the financial markets so we can easily access capital again in the future – a virtuous cycle of end-to-end IR.
This is an expansion of what the function means on paper. But in reality, IR is a function that should be the responsibility of everyone in the company. All should feel the pressure of being listed as it is everyone’s role to create shareholder value. IR is simply the public face for it.