Since he was a child, Allan G Alfon, President and General Manager of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), has harboured a deep appreciation and passion for bridges – not just the structures themselves, but for everything they represent and make possible.
"For me, it’s also knowing that bridges can connect economies, connect people, connect cultures – bridges can link practically anything," he enthuses. "When I travel abroad, I see different kinds of designs for bridges, and how they help communities around them. My appreciation for them just continues to increase. I’m amazed by what bridges can do and how much they mean to people."
Indeed, now Allan has an opportunity to oversee the creation of a culturally and structurally significant bridge, the US$624 million 8.5-kilometre Cebu–Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) that will connect Cebu City and the Municipality of Cordova. "I believe this project will be my humble legacy for our fellow Cebuanos. It will be an iconic structure in the years to come," he says.
"This will be the third major link between the main islands of Cebu and Mactan. This project will continue to bridge cultures and connect people. The first two bridges had an enormous economic impact and we’re confident that this third bridge will contribute in a major way to the development of not just Cebu, but also to the rest of the Visayas region – the islands of the future."
With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Allan, who originally trained as an engineer, was the obvious choice to spearhead this complex and important development.
His work in the construction and engineering sectors has been extensive and varied, including in commercial leasing, property management, business development, and network and franchise management across real estate, food franchising, oil and engineering companies.
In addition, as a native Cebuano, his personal investment in improving the infrastructure of the region is unsurpassed. "As a new world-class landmark infrastructure in Cebu, CCLEX will make a big difference to the lives of the people, especially economically," he says.
"The Cebuanos are very proud of this project and grateful to be given this opportunity to be behind it. We may have separate challenges, such as the pandemic, but we’ll keep moving, keep being efficient and make sure we deliver this project as soon as possible."
A manager who favours an open-door approach and encourages his employees’ autonomy, Allan is also a firm believer in leading by example.
"I set the direction, but I also let my people be secure in their own style to maximise creativity and ownership," he explains.
"Of course, everyone is expected to be efficient and act with integrity, as I do. To be a strong leader, you must show empathy, honesty, openness and objectivity. My late mother inspired me to be a strong person. And my late father always advised me – and moulded me to be serious, stay focused and be conscious of what we need to do in life."
To be a strong leader, you must show empathy, honesty, openness and objectivity.
Thanks to the unwavering support of key partners and stakeholders, Allan says that the process from development through to execution has been without fault.
"While this is our very first project in this part of the Philippines, we believe that in our mandate to expand or bring in more investments in this region, we should be able to harness, cultivate and even collaborate later on with our local and international suppliers. At present, it’s meant that we’ve really been able to minimise supply chain issues brought about by COVID-19. Our CCLEX project is being implemented as a public–private partnership with the local government units of Cebu City and Cordova. We give utmost importance to the concerns of our grantors and the other stakeholders in the project – CCLEX’s success wouldn’t be possible without their full support. Without these partners, we could not achieve our goals."
And in the same way, without a strong and unified team behind him, Allan understands that the project would not be possible."It’s the same as how we nurture relationships with key suppliers and grow opportunities for future collaboration," he says. "We always do this. We always do things in a transparent way so that trust is continually built on.
"Of course, trust comes from efficient processes and timely delivery of products and supplies. In the same way that you build the trust of your colleagues or employees, then collaboration, cooperation and loyalty easily come into place as well. Our success has really been attributed to the efforts of our employees. We organised a strong, multi-disciplined team with international and local expertise, and underwent a thorough selection process to ensure the best people would be working with us."
While completion of the project has been delayed by a few months – an unavoidable consequence of the pandemic – Allan is certain that once CCLEX is operational, the entire fabric of the region will have been permanently changed, for the better.
In addition, by using technological advancements and heralding innovation, he says that CCLEC is ultimately paving the way for other players in the industry to follow suit, resulting in a better Philippines. "This industry has developed quickly over the years, such that we are now gearing towards electronic collection systems, among other things," Allan explains.
"This means, of course, that we have to make sure that the use of technology is suited to the client. Our company leads the way in terms of innovation – we know how important it is to be abreast of and then ahead of the latest technology and innovation, so that we can continue to be the leader in this part of the world."
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