Aboitiz's big bet on data science bears fruit
ABOITIZ scholar Gilbert Chua (standing) during his studies at the Asian Institute of Management-Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship. ASIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT

Aboitiz's big bet on data science bears fruit

3 min read

THE Aboitiz Group donated in 2019 US$10 million to the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) to establish the Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (Asite), one of the most advanced learning facilities in the region for data science and innovation.

A cornerstone of Aboitiz Group’s centennial anniversary celebration, the investment included study loan grants for aspiring students, which include Gilbert Chua.

Chua, then a government employee, would go on to become a scholar, a data scientist and a pioneer in one of the fastest-growing industries here and abroad.

A trained physicist from the University of the Philippines, Chua knew the path forward for him was to earn a masters degree in data science, and the best institution that offered it was the prestigious AIM. There was just one catch—the program fees would cost around P1.5 million, a big burden for aspiring students like Gilbert.

Scholarship loan

Thanks to the partnership between the Aboitiz Group and AIM, Gilbert qualified for a scholarship loan that would help finance his studies. As part of the Aboitiz Group’s commitment to developing data science and innovation, it heavily invested in students by providing generous scholarship loan terms.

“I was surprised because I did not know of any other group at the time who was so willing to collaborate so deeply or bet so much on data science, since it’s still an emerging field. To me that spoke of how forward-thinking Aboitiz was,” Gilbert said. “It was a no-brainer for me to accept the grant. The terms were extremely generous—it was zero percent interest, paid for almost 90 percent of the cost, and had even more generous repayment terms.”

The Aboitiz Group’s historic donation to AIM was meant to address the local and regional gap in data science and innovation by supporting degree programs, student loan programs, and sites and facilities. Gilbert is one of many scholars that became beneficiaries of the partnership and was part of the first batch of loan grantees.

“We are thrilled to see our vision for the Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship come to life through the success of scholars like Gilbert Chua. Our investment in AIM was an investment in people as leaders of the future. Gilbert’s journey from scholar to data scientist illustrates the transformative impact of education and our dedication to empowering people,” said Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer Sabin M. Aboitiz.


After graduating with his Master of Science in Data Science degree, Gilbert later joined the Aboitiz Group, which had recently formed its own data science and artificial intelligence arm, Aboitiz Data Innovation Inc. (ADI). ADI has since become one of the key components of the Aboitiz Group’s preparations to transform itself into the Philippine’s first techglomerate by 2025. A large part of that is becoming an agile business that embraces a start-up style and emerging technologies, such as data science. “I chose Aboitiz because I saw them as the most principled conglomerate when it comes to data science,” Gilbert said. “Because of that collaboration with AIM, I knew that the Group put its money where its mouth is. That much investment proved they were serious about data science.”

As of this writing, Gilbert has become a principal data scientist at ADI. He said that with this data science position, he’s happy that he has a job that values his expertise and gives him the opportunity to do more, especially for his family.

“I can finally give back to my family. It’s a good feeling when you can finally give your parents comfortable lives after everything they’ve done for you. Now, I can finally give back, buy them things they want. I am so thankful that I can do that now.”

(The article was originally published on Sunstar Cebu.)