“Shut the front door!” Chief Financial Officer Andrea Moseley instructs Finance Director Marietta Alay-Ay during one of their regular meetings. It’s an odd request that seems to come from nowhere. Marietta, sort of bewildered, walks over to the door anyway, and closes it. She turns around to the sound of Andrea’s laughter.
Marietta, originally from the Philippines, had to learn that what Andrea meant was, “Oh, that’s unbelievable!”
Beyond the quirky Southern idioms and colloquial English expressions that have baffled Marietta since arriving in the states 24 years ago, she has thrived. What’s truly unbelievable is how she got here.
Do you remember the Y2K craze? At the turn of the century, everyone from everyday citizens to CEO’s of the largest companies were preparing for a total meltdown. Would computers work? What would happen to information stored in servers? Would the world as we know it end? IT consultants were hired from around the world to prevent the looming disaster. Marietta’s husband was one of them.
He arrived in the U.S. in 1996 and sponsored her arrival the following year. After a few subpar experiences with other companies, Marietta started working for Kloeckner Metals as an accountant in 1999.
Why She Stayed
Marietta worked as an accountant for 12 years, before moving into finance.
Sometimes her friends and family wonder how she isn’t bored yet. Marietta assures them, “Even after all these years, there’s always something new to learn.”
Now, as the Director of Finance, Marietta participates in core decisions surrounding business operations, a fulfilling position for her. She appreciates that throughout her time at Kloeckner there have always been opportunities for growth and continuous learning.
For example, Kloeckner’s commitment to digitalization excites Marietta because, “it’s preparing the next generation to be successful in the industry.” Though integrating new technology requires many changes to the way things have been done, setting the next generation up for success is something Marietta truly values.
A Beloved Leader
Marietta’s passion for raising people up is admirable. Her patient and understanding leadership demonstrates to her direct reports and fellow colleagues that she is ready to go the distance with them.
For instance, her direct report, Treasury Analyst Julie Heu, emphasized how Marietta’s supportive nature is one of the most inspiring aspects of her time at Kloeckner Metals. From the initial interview to Julie’s first big project deadline, Marietta has challenged her, all while cheering her on.
Above and Beyond, Kindness as a Lifestyle
Marietta’s enthusiasm for learning and supporting others goes beyond the workplace. These generous Filipino values were embedded long before she was living in the states.
Her daughter, Alyssa, joked that whenever she has friends over, Marietta never lets them leave without taking food home. Over the years they’ve learned to request her unforgettable lumpia (fried spring rolls).
Furthermore, when Alyssa started at UGA last year, her accounting class proved the most demanding. She would study lecture notes for up to 15 hours and sometimes still get stuck. Luckily, she knew she could reach out to her mom for help. They would start by working on just one problem. But, before they knew it, they were reviewing the whole unit together.
I reckon we’re all grateful Marietta’s fixin’ to stick around ‘til the cows come home.
Sara Montijo is a writer for Kloeckner Metals. She graduated with honors from NYU and has previously facilitated multimedia programming and worked alongside renowned chefs. Her friends call her a time warp.