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March - April 2014 Issue

Business Woman of the Year

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Guam Chamber



A Global Career

One cannot imagine a more exciting career than one in the travel industry, and Marie P. Lizama can attest that she is enjoying herself immensely. Lizama is the Guam sales manager at Delta Airlines and has been in the travel industry for 27 years.

As someone who works in the travel industry, Lizama does her fair share of traveling, though she says her list of places travelled is probably not as extensive as it should be. "I've been to most of the countries in Asia, Australia, just over half of the U.S., and two [countries] in Europe. As with many other island residents, though, a lot of my personal trips involve going to see family members who live in certain areas outside of Guam." On her wish list of places to eventually see are South America, Africa and more countries in Europe.

After graduating from high school, Lizama received a scholarship at the International School of Business. "I chose to go into the airline-hotel program because it sounded fun. It wasn't until my friends were graduating from college that I finally got that desire to go back to school and get a degree. I still enjoyed my job, though, and was very fortunate to have been able to work on a part-time basis while attending classes at the University of Guam," she recalls. Lizama eventually earned her bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Guam.

Lizama began her career at a small travel agency. "I started as a travel consultant at Paseo Travel, which was in a tiny building in the center of a huge grassy parking lot next to Bank of Hawaii. My uncle used to call it 'The Little House on the Prairie,'" she recalls. She also worked for Guamerica Travel from 1985 to 1987. Then she became a reservation sales agent for Northwest Airlines from 1987 to 1998. In 1998, Lizama accepted a position as account manager for Worldspan, where she worked until taking her current position for Northwest Airlines/ Delta Airlines.

One of her favorite parts about the airline industry is hearing the stories and experiences of first-time travelers. "I never tire of that," she says. Additionally, she likes working in a field where technological advances are embraced and used to better the travel experience, she says. "The travel industry changes constantly and is almost never boring," she says.

During her free time, Lizama is an avid fan of sports. "Believe it or not, I understand and actually enjoy watching NFL and college football games," she says. She also likes to watch the History Channel, the DIY Network, and "Duck Dynasty" and other shows on the A&E Channel.

Watching television allows her to spend quality time with her husband, John. "Our jobs keep us pretty busy, so we prefer to stay at home any chance we get and thus get to see quite a bit of shows. Our favorite reality show is the 'Amazing Race,' of course," she says.

When she is not at home relaxing, she strives to experience something new, usually travel or food related. She also loves to travel for fun and read and is really happy when she can do both at the same time.

Despite her love for travel and the travel that comes along with her job, nothing compares to living on Guam. "The reality is: I couldn't, and still can't, imagine living anywhere else. How ironic that I would end up working in an industry that takes me away from home every so often," she says.

Lizama has learned enough conversational Japanese "to stay out of trouble." As part of her heritage, she also understands Chamorro. "I understand Chamorro but don't feel confident enough to speak it. Yes, I know that sounds terrible. One my brothers used to tease me mercilessly about the way I spoke it, and I've been self-conscious about doing so since that time," she says.

When the time to retire comes around, Lizama foresees more travel, mostly to visit and spend time with her sons and other family members who live in the states. "[I would also] possibly go into teaching, further my education, help out the elderly or mentor the young — anything that will help me to give back to our island community," she says.

Lizama is the mother of Christopher, 27, and Dominic, 19. She is a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Education Council and the School of Business and Public Advisory Council, and she holds a position on Sanctuary's board. She is also a Guam Workforce Investment board member and co-chairperson of its respective monitoring and oversight committee. In 2007, she received the University of Guam's Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award.


A pre-constructed path to engineering

Aquilino S. Cabrias Jr. knew he was going to be an engineer from an early age. His father was an engineer. "Even before I went to first grade, I made it a point that one day, I [would] be like him," Cabrias says. "I wanted to be an engineer too. Since that day, I never saw myself doing any other type of work or profession, so here I am an engineer."

Cabrias is a civil and structural engineer with J.M. Robertson Inc., which does business as AmOrient Engineering. He has been with the company since 2009. Now 36 years old, the engineer has 14 years of experience in the industry.

He started his career in the Philippines at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, where he received a bachelor's of science in civil engineering. He then went on to work in a structural engineering firm operated by his college professor, applying his knowledge to actual design in the real word. From 2001 to 2004, Cabrias worked as the design engineer and coordinator for Makati Development Corp., obtaining extensive training and experience in civil and structural engineering. In 2004, Cabrias branched off and founded AMMA Engineering with a college friend and classmate residing on Guam. This led to his eventual move to Guam to become a civil engineer for Smithbridge Guam Inc. from 2006 to 2009.

"I had been working in the Philippines when I started my career as a professional engineer in 2000, and I was doing well there, too. However, opportunity on Guam came, and I decided to come over in 2006 and find out where it would take me," Cabrias says. "I have been here in Guam for eight years now. I got all my other licenses along the way, and I am still here, so you could say that I like it here," he says. In 2008 he obtained his first U.S. professional engineer's license and has since obtained several other certifications.

Although it is work, engineering has its rewards. "In general, my favorite thing about my job is being able to apply my knowledge about math and science to the real-world infrastructures, facilities and buildings that are useful to other people. Here in the office, I am glad that I am able to work and interact with different people doing different things and in different roles," Cabrias says. In addition, he likes being part of the team at his workplace.

In between his pursuits, both professional and personal, Cabrias cultivates an interest in music. "I spend most of my time working at the office. But whenever I get a chance, I love to play guitar and keyboards. I can say that apart from work, I love music," the engineer says. Other things that interest him include reading, films and photography.

In addition, Cabrias is eager to share his knowledge with others. His extensive work history includes teaching. From 2001 to 2004, Cabrias took a part-time teaching job at Collegio de San Agustin in Binan, Laguna, Philippines, where he taught college physics for a computer science class. He also worked as a parttime review instructor for Besavilla Engineering Review Center, Manila and Baguio branches.

When he retires, the engineer looks forward to living a simple life in the Philippines with his family and teaching. "I would like to take on a teaching job at an engineering school — my alma mater, if possible — so that I can pass on the knowledge, wisdom and experience I learned during my career to the new generation of would-be engineers," he says.

Cabrias is married to Melissa P. Cabrias and is the father to 6-year-old Chantel Dae P. Cabrias. If the day had an extra eight hours, he would spend the time with his family.


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