BEHIND the fuel that revs up your engine is a full-throttled Thomasian chemist.

Serving for more than a decade at Shell Philippines Exploration B.V., Donnabel Kuizon-Cruz had always been in love with science.

“Before, I used to write on slum books what I wanted to become. What I always put on mine is to be a computer scientist or just a plain scientist for that matter,” she said.

“I also considered taking up Psychology, because my original plan was to proceed to Medicine right after graduation. However, I wanted something more hands-on and challenging, to solve solutions and create formulas.”

And like every scientist who works independently, Cruz has carried within her a distinct personality she grew up with.

“I think I have been blessed with the skills to deal with people, to know what makes them tick, to know how they interact; and that’s when you know how to activate people in order to do something.  I am a mix of things now, a vocal person, a scientist, a leader,” said Cruz, who graduated magna cum laude and was the batch valedictorian of the College of Science in 2000.

Serving at the Production Services Lead Department of Shell, Cruz continues to implore scientific disciplines in leading her team with utmost excellence.

“At first, you become an individual contributor. But as you progress, you become more of a leader, working with groups and people. Every detail comes to importance because an action might mean more on a macro scale,” she said.

Working with a smile

Cruz started in Shell as a generalist technologist—a role with no clear specialization. Eventually, her scientific prowess and love for number crunching landed her to a higher position as an “Energy, Loss and Benchmarking technologist” wherein she inspects and benchmarks the performance of the sectors of the Batangas Shell Refinery, which she then reports to the management of the refinery and to the top honchos of Shell Philippines.

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“I take the roles of an inspector, an analyst and a statistician and also, I look at the other performance factors of the refinery. By performance I mean the efficiency of the refinery like the number of barrels produced per day,” Cruz said.

But what Cruz is known for by most of her peers and co-workers is her constant longing for a more hands-on experience at work, along with being sweet, cheerful, energetic and extremely kind.

“As much as possible, I do not order the members of my department to do the job; as much as possible, I volunteer to get the job done hands-on,” said Cruz.

The kind of work that Cruz occupies demands a high sense of discipline and strict compliance to life-saving rules and protocols inside the refinery. It helped that she joined the BPI Management Training Program.

“After studying for the boards, out of curiosity, I joined the BPI Management Training program which was six to 12 months, training me at the banking industry,” said Cruz.

“It was very far to the discipline I have studied—BS Chemistry; but I learned to respect protocols and to be more disciplined; this I still apply to my work today.”

Highflying student

Just like any other college student, Donna had problems with school work and social life. Nonetheless, she found a way to cater to her social circle without putting her academics at stake.

“I used to live in a dorm and peer pressure is always there. My friends would always ask me to watch movies with them. The problem is, when you’re in the College of Science, you need to study every day,” she said. “It’s as if you have no time for study but you need to provide time for your friends and the soft side of yourself.”

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In her younger years, Donna had a unique personality, but then she changed this when she stepped into high school.

“When I was in Grade Five I tend to bully other people, I kept a dominant personality. I think before I was insensitive to my peers. Then I learned that to be happy, to be accepted, you need to be very simple, and that’s when I learned to become a leader in high school,” said Cruz.

The road for her in college brought a lot of tracks that lead to a well-rounded Donna. She proved that no amount of extra-academic work can overshadow a good scholastic performance.

“There were so many things that I was involved in Chemistry. I became the president of the UST Chemical Society. Though I didn’t experience any academic hindrances because I managed my time fluidly, you need to manage your time and follow it to the letter,” she said. “That’s the way we learn, and we learn to become stronger.”

Coming from a middle-class family, issues on finances lingered with the young Donna in college. But the bright mind she possessed earned her scholarships from the different schools she has been in.

“Being the high school valedictorian, UST granted me a scholarship. The Department of Science and Technology also offered me a scholarship which gave me a stipend worth P2,000,” said the September 2000 Chemist board exams topnotcher.

“I have high ambitions for myself. I’ve always felt that God gave me talents and God gave me the opportunity to contribute and make a difference in the world,” she said. “And to do that, I really need to exert effort and aim something not mediocre.”

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But the mounting success and glory she built in her formation years humbled this woman even more.

“I don’t compete with people. I don’t care if there is someone better than me. People have different paces. What I care more is how I did before and topping it every time,” she said.

A family woman

A 33-year-old mother of two, Donna makes it a point to always have time for her family. Her fluid time management skill, which she learned in college, was vital to her orderly plans.

Donna’s strongest motivation during college years was her parents, and how she must work hard for them.

“First of all I really wanted to dedicate all my achievements to my parents,” said Cruz, who was also a recipient of the Rector’s Award of UST in 2000.

“I grew up in Southern Leyte. My parents really need to work hard to help me and my sister study here in Manila. I really wanted to give back to my parents for all the hard labor that’s why I promised to really shine.”

Also highly religious in nature, Donna never forgets that everything that God has given to her is part of a greater plan; a plan that she believes to be a part of a greater and more important plan.

“All of us are given this task to create a better world in our only life; that is why I believe that whatever happens to all of us is all part of God’s plan.”

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