Gretchen Choa of The Camden Trading Group on Taking Charge
loader image
Gretchen Choa of The Camden Trading Group on Taking Charge

Gretchen Choa of The Camden Trading Group on Taking Charge

Fashion | May 16, 2022
  • 1

As the Vice President of The Camden Trading Group, Gretchen Choa has big shoes to fill. Learn her secret to success and advocacies in this exclusive interview with the woman herself.

Juggling many responsibilities—both in business and at home—is an amazing feat that not a lot of people can manage. But 40-year-old businesswoman Gretchen Choa takes pride in being able to do all this effortlessly—and with grace and poise, too.

Mom of boys, entrepreneur, and foodie. These are just some of the many roles that Gretchen takes on. A multi-hyphenated individual with both impressive credentials and impeccable style, she primarily takes the reins as The Camden Trading Group’s Vice President—a title she earned, not by connections, but by merit alone.

Just like her, the family business is diverse—first offering cosmetic, personal care, pharmaceutical, coatings, semiconductors, and confectionery industry in its humble beginnings in 1988 before entering into the feed industry in 1991, and eventually, venturing into the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market in 2013. To date, the company has organized all its offerings into neat divisions: Camden Agriculture for better yields, Camden Food Chemistry for specialty foodstuff ingredients, and Camden Chemistry for industrial needs—with goals of expanding over and beyond.

Just how does she do all this, while taking care of her family and looking not a day older? I’ve had the pleasure of talking to this superwoman of a business figure, where she proudly tells all.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FIRST-LOOKGRETCHEN-CHOA-4.jpg

Being such a young businesswoman, how did you get into the business, and who was your mentor?

The Camden Trading Group is a leader in global sourcing and nationwide distribution of raw materials in the agriculture, food manufacturing, and chemical industries, which was started by my father 34 years ago.

I first “presented” myself to my dad after graduating [from] university, as it seemed—back then—a logical progression to join the family business. To my shock, my dad rejected my offer and told me to find my own job. I took that in stride and found my own way in the corporate world. In hindsight, that was my first official (and humbling) lesson from my Dad, who is not only my mentor but also my best friend and confidante. 

After several years in corporate life, I talked to my Dad and this time, [I] asked if I could join the family business because I wanted to learn and help him. I didn’t care where I would be assigned—I just knew [that] I wanted to be of help and service to the company. This time, I was hired. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FIRST-LOOK-STUDY-GRETCHEN-CHOA-3.jpg

What are your areas of responsibility in said businesses?

As Vice President, I oversee internal operations, help direct strategy and lead in the development of new products. As my dad’s right-hand woman, we discuss various issues and reflect on our business on a regular schedule. I am fortunate that my dad not only gave me a seat at the table but [also] allowed me to have my own voice. 

What do you find challenging in your line of work?

Since we import 90% of our products, ensuring a smooth flow in inventory and supply is highly crucial. A good balance of prudence and calculated risk is [also] necessary. The current pandemic-induced supply chain disruption—to say the least—makes things extra difficult, yet also exciting. 

How do you see yourself 10 years from now?

It is my dream to someday have a foundation involving assistance and support for our Filipino farmers. [Also] improving their yield and further developing the current local food supply chain. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FIRST-LOOK-STUDY-GRETCHEN-CHOA-2.jpg

If you weren’t in this kind of business, what kind of career do you want to be in? 

I would probably go full-time teaching. I was invited to teach again for a semester (after more than a decade!) at my former university—the University of Asia & the Pacific—back in August 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Teaching satisfies my curious nature and I loved connecting with my students. I think teaching helps keep me young, too. Haha!

In your bucket list, what are your top three?

First, to go on a cruise with my two boys around Europe or a road trip to the South of France. Second, my best friend and I made a pact long ago to travel to San Sebastián when we both turn 40. We hope to get to do these soon, now that travel is opening up. Lastly, I want to get another master’s degree—this time in business. 

What else do you need to do to make your company bigger than what it is now?

I’m glad you asked this question because, since the pandemic, the opportunity to expand and improve internal communications [have] played a crucial role. We have multiple salesmen and warehouse hubs nationwide, and so, to have both alignment and clarity of the job at hand for everyone involved makes a huge difference.

As we go along, mobile communications and internet connectivity hopefully improve, too, especially in the provincial areas where we still experience difficulty. Having said that, I think as we continue to evolve our work set up in a post-pandemic world, it pays to always invest in our internal social capital. No amount of external investment would make sense if your people don’t feel they are also being cared for. Humanity remains at the center of any successful business.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FIRST-LOOK-STUDY-GRETCHEN-CHOA-1.jpg

You’ve recently launched a fundraising effort to help the victims of Typhoon Odette in Cebu. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Courage Cebu really started in late March 2020 during [the] lockdown among us 8 friends. [The goal was] to raise funds to help provide medical frontliners and essential workers with PPEs, food, and other necessities.

When Typhoon Odette hit us, my friend Divine and I talked about reviving Courage Cebu. Though we all had our own problems and property damages to deal with, we just couldn’t stand not doing anything for others who were helpless. However, there was a challenge of spotty to no internet, [as] mobile networks were still down in some areas of Cebu.

Thankfully one of our friends, Chari was staying in Manila at that time, so she managed the Instagram posts, inquiries, and messages for us, while the sourcing, receiving, accounting, and distribution were left to the rest of us in Cebu. We [also] had so much help from Red Cross, Gothong Shipping, volunteers, friends, and family.

Having collected a total of PHP 3.83 Million and donations in kind, we were able to distribute [these goods] from house-to-house in Cebu City—as well various provinces of Cebu, including Madridejos, which is about 140 km away. We were also able to extend our distribution to Siargao, Bohol, and Southern Leyte.

Seeing the happy and hopeful smiles, especially from the young children is a humbling experience, one that is life-changing—one that I am especially grateful for. 

How do you balance your work and family life, like raising two young boys during the pandemic? How were you able to make them cope with the struggles of having to stay home for a long time?

The past two years allowed my two boys to witness both my work life and home life, where prior to the pandemic, they knew my mommy mode well and only a general concept of my work. Children observe us more than we think they do. Having seen how my work [for The Camden Trading Group] actually goes on a daily basis, I believe, [has] deepened their understanding.

They hear my Zoom meetings [and] I share my project updates, where they comment and even give their suggestions. It is actually fascinating what they come up with! [A] few times, I adapted their comment to my projects and thanked them for the input. They smile with pride.

I also love cooking and baking, so I ask my boys to help me in the kitchen. Sometimes, they see viral cooking videos and we try them out together. Our cooking is usually fun but has also become competitive in terms of our plating and decorating skills. Sometimes, [it’s] even funny—like when we tried making our own pasta… without a pasta machine! All of these make for great bonding moments, and of course, eating together always remains a pleasure.


Photography ED SIMON




Beautiful Inside and Out: Meet Founder’s Beauty CEO Sonam Uttamchandani-Nanwani

Women on Top: 4 Bosses Share Their Secrets to Success

Tres Marias: The Yap Sisters on Style, Sisterhood, and More

Candice “Candy” Dizon is one of the country’s most renowned jewellers — taking over the reins of their late mother’s empire, Jul B. Dizon Jewellery. As the owner, marketing manager and designer of their shop at the Peninsula Manila, Candy is no stranger to life’s most precious gems (literally). Armed with undeniable wit and a great sense of style, she has paved her own path in the jewellery industry (along with her siblings). Her most prized possessions? Her two daughters, Jody and Jacqui.
More from Candy Dizon
Check them out is your all-in-one access pass to exclusive content from a wide variety of lifestyle experts, thought leaders, influencers and leading content creators here in the Philippines and around the world. is a prestige media brand of One Mega Group, Inc.


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Marga Medrano-Tupaz


FASHION Amina Arañaz-Alunan Jojie Lloren Robby Carmona Patty Ang Candy Dizon Francis Libiran | BEAUTY Dr. Vicky Belo Kim Reyes-Palanca Marie Lozano Firas Abboud Jude Hipolito and Rose Velasco (JuRo) Jigs Mayuga | LUXURY Bianca Salonga JP Tuason Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason Marlon Stöckinger | TRAVEL Vern Enciso Ferdi Salvador Marie Field-Faith | TECH & GADGETS Carlo Ople Enrique Miranda Gerry Sy | HOME & DESIGN Geewel Fuster Kitty Bunag Tessa Alindogan Vianca Favila | BUSINESS & CAREER Franco Saycon Venus Navalta Eric Dee Dr. Z Teo Pinky Tobiano Atty. Connie Aquino | ENTERTAINMENT Girlie Rodis MJ Marfori G3 San Diego Georcelle Dapat Sy / G-Force | FOOD & ENTERTAINING Aüa Chino Hernandez Happy Ongpauco-Tiu Nina Daza-Puyat Robby Goco JJ Yulo | PARENTING Cat Arambulo-Antonio Paulyne Fermin Michelle Aventajado Jerika Ejercito Aguilar Celine Gabriel Lim | FITNESS & WELLNESS Nadine Tengco Harvie de Baron Sara Black Arnold Aninion Teresa Herrera Anthon Tanya Aguila Simon Greatwich | WEDDINGS Marbee Shing-Go Amanda Tirol Charisse Tinio Jason Magbanua Gideon Hermosa Robert Blancaflor | YOUTH Chris Nick Milka Romero Miko Tiu Laurel Janeena Chan


SALES DIRECTOR Maureen Alexis Busto
Chloe Tapucar, Jasmine Co Leng, Ivan Panganiban,
Anna Chua, Lexi Malongga


Marketing Communication Manager Pam Rodriguez
Ad & Promo Manager Brent James Castro
Copywriter / Social Media Associate Rowan Palomares
Social Media AssociateKyla Nicole Taal
Multimedia Artist Agatha Romero
Producer Elishua Balinton
Video Editor Andrew Ciudad


Sr Video Editor Jasper Bermejo
Video Editors Kenneth Dimaano
Video Editor / Producer Regina Aceron
Audio Visual & Technical Assistant
Andrew Ciudad


Creative Services Supervisor Kristoff Sison
Multimedia Artists Gari Rivera, Elmer Pereira,
Niel Jhed Ibay
Copywriters Peaches Garcia, Althea Villanueva,
Roanna Alonzo,
Chad Losanta, Christina Zabat


Production & Logistics Manager ERICA LUNA
Booking Associate Mae Talaid, KZ Francisco
Pull Out Coordinator & Production & Logistics AssistantMJ Almero


Production and Studio Manager Ed Simon
Photographer Kieran Punay, Excel Panlaque
Final Artists Eric Gallego
Cameraman JR Ramirez


Sr Video Editor Jasper Bermejo
Video Editor / Producer Regina Aceron


AVP for MARKETING & PUBLISHING Marga Medrano-Tupaz
VP for CONTENT Peewee Isidro


PRESIDENT Suki Salvador
CHAIRMAN Archie Carrasco


AVP - Business Development Carmelli Daet


Head of Consumer Marketing and Circulations Arriane Sanchez
Consumer Marketing Associate Champ Bersales
Multimedia Artist Hilrey Batolan


HR Manager Mairen Buan
Organizational Development and HR Tech Supervisor Lorenzon Miguel Barbeyto
HR Supervisor Vanessa Orpilla
Sr Payroll Associate Angielica Baril
Recruitment Associate Michelle Grace Flores


Web Development Manager and MIS OIC  Carlo Tumaliuan
Web Developer Supervisor  King Villarta
Jr Web Designer  Jen-Lyn Dumlao
Senior IT Associate  Jomer Calleja


Admin & Purchasing Manager Avy Lagarto
Office Support Associate Jorean Ann Flores
Company Driver Bernard Dela Cruz


Legal Counsel Atty.   Homer Alinsug
OIC-Corporate Legal   Avy Lagarto


Finance Manager Rachel Cabagua
Finance Supervisor Janin Tabora
Credit & Collection Supervisor Nainine Buenaobra
Senior Treasury Associate Maileen Capilitan
Senior Accounting Associate John Dela Torre
General Accounting Associate Ruffa Dela Pena
Accounting Associate Zarah Mira


Head of Corporate Affairs and Business Expansion Rodolfo Palanca Jr.
Copy Chief Andrea Eliza Santos
Corporate Affairs Associate Margaux Pua
Creatives Associate Alecs Beltran


Chief Operating Officer Ma. Cecilia Ngo
Executive Assistant to the COO Thea Pamela So


Chairman & President Archie Carrasco