Cosette Canilao: Infra builder

Cosette Canilao: Infra builder

By: - Business Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 03:16 PM March 16, 2024

Cosette Canilao

Cosette Canilao

Cosette Canilao broke in 2018 what had been deemed an insurmountable barrier when she was brought in to head Aboitiz InfraCapital, thus becoming the only female president and chief executive officer in the Aboitiz Group.

Navigating male-dominated circles, however, is not new to Canilao, given her years of experience in infrastructure development, a field where men usually occupy the top positions.


Canilao—a product of the University of the Philippines who has also attended executive education programs at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Said Business School at the University of Oxford—has over 20 years of leadership experience in public-private partnerships (PPP), investment and corporate banking, and crisis management and restructuring practice.


She held key management positions such as partner and practice leader for the Crisis Management Group and Financial Services Industry at PricewaterhouseCoopers, director at Standard Merchant Bank Asia, and managing director for PPP Advisory at Atkins Acuity.

She also actively participated in developing and promoting PPP frameworks and shared knowledge with developing countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Tanzania.

Prior to joining the Aboitiz Group, Canilao made her mark as executive director of the PPP Center during the Aquino administration. She was instrumental in building the project pipeline as well as the successful bidding of 12 projects over almost five years from 2011 to 2016.

Today, as head of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Canilao intends to add to that long list of major infrastructure projects, with the group focusing on helping uplift lives and spurring economic growth through smart and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the country—from industrial-anchored economic estates to water facilities, digital infrastructure and transport and mobility projects.

As she brings these projects to fruition, Canilao aims to bring more women along with her.

In 2022, Aboitiz InfraCapital became a new member of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment, saying it was in line with the commitment of the group to further empower women and promote equality in the workplace.


“Conscious and unconscious bias should be eliminated and women should be allowed to flourish and achieve their utmost potential in any field, in any workplace,” said Canilao.

She added, “Glass ceilings should be broken effortlessly; glass cliffs should be overcome easily, until both are extinct. We can only achieve this by being deliberate and articulate in the policies that we put in place. With the support of evidence-based data, it is my hope that more progressive, proactive, and bold policies will emerge to allow female genius to flourish.” INQ

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