Beyond fast food: Filipina’s remarkable rise from Jollibee crew to CEO in Dubai

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Mary Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi

DUBAI, Nov 30: In a remarkable journey, Mary Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi, a former Jollibee service crew member in Manila, has defied the odds to become the CEO of her own company in Dubai. Starting on a modest salary of Dh1,000 per month, Mary Jane, now 53, has risen to the top of the corporate ladder, currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of a company operating in the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia.

A Chemical Engineer by profession, Mary Jane played a significant role in major projects like Downtown Dubai, including the iconic Burj Khalifa. Her resilience and dedication led her to the position of CEO of Prime Group of companies based in the UAE.

Mary Jane’s early life was marked by financial struggles, being the fourth of five children in a family that ran a small restaurant. Despite facing challenges, her academic excellence stood out, consistently ranking at the top of her class. Her father’s chronic lung condition and eventual passing compelled Mary Jane to become the family’s breadwinner, supporting her mother and four younger siblings.

Upon arriving in the UAE in 1992, Mary Jane, armed with her degree, secured a role as a quality assurance officer at a Jebel Ali textile company, earning a modest Dh1,000 monthly and residing in a “labor camp” accommodation. Over the years, she climbed the corporate ladder, contributing to significant projects and eventually becoming the CEO of Geoscience Testing Laboratory.

In addition to her professional achievements, Mary Jane pursued higher education, completing her Masters and PhD. She played a pivotal role in testing construction materials for prominent projects in the UAE, such as the Downtown Burj Dubai, Dubai Metro, and Emirates Road.

Recognized for her accomplishments, Mary Jane became the first Filipina to win the Emirates Business Women Award in 2008. She has since become the Group CEO of Prime Group of Companies, overseeing operations in the UAE, Africa, and the Far East.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary Jane demonstrated resilience, guiding her team to develop alcohol-based hand sanitizers, contributing to the fight against the virus. Her success mantra revolves around anticipating and adapting to change, encouraging her colleagues to step outside their comfort zones.

Beyond her professional journey, Mary Jane aims to strengthen bilateral ties between the UAE and the Philippines, aligning with both countries’ visions for a knowledge economy. She attributes her success to the unwavering support of her husband, Mohammad Al Mahdi Lari, and her parents-in-law. Mary Jane’s story is an inspiring testament to determination, hard work, and the pursuit of excellence.

This news has been read 1190 times!

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