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Business

P&G’s Evelyn Chua-Ng: Finding the right work-life balance

Marianne Go - The Philippine Star
P&Gâs Evelyn Chua-Ng: Finding the right work-life balance
Chua-Ng
STAR / File

Executive profile:

MANILA, Philippines — At the prime of her life, Evelyn Chua-Ng, 43, is an outstanding example of a successful career woman who has achieved a perfect work-life balance, grounded by a strong Christian faith.

Evelyn is currently the vice president and regional comptroller for Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa of American consumer manufacturer Procter & Gamble or simply P&G, a post she has held since 2016.

A 20-year veteran of P&G, Evelyn was scouted by the consumer firm while she was still finishing her business administration and accountancy degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

She joined the group in 2001 and initially worked in the Philippines as part of the Asia Internal Controls. After only two years, she got her first international posting in Singapore where she stayed for two and a half years before moving on to China in 2005 and eventually staying for a much longer period of six and a half years.

In China, Evelyn was initially the finance director for Greater China skin and cosmetics sales from 2005 to 2007, and overlapping her role with the additional responsibility as Greater China SK-II global business unit plus globalization F& A director from 2006 to 2007.

From 2007 to 2008, she was assigned as finance director for Greater China baby care and Oral C product supply, and concurrently the Huangpu plant site controller.

From 2008 to 2011, she was promoted to finance senior director of the Greater China baby care global business unit.

After her back-to-back international postings, Evelyn returned to the Philippines in 2012 to assume the chief financial post for P&G Philippines, a role she kept up to 2014.

By 2015, aside from being the Philippines chief finance officer, she was elevated to tax senior director of P&G.

Continuing to soar even higher, Evelyn in 2016 became Asia comptroller and Asia Pacific tax operations vice president, with that role further expanded in 2019 to cover AMA or AsiaPacific, Middle East and Africa, as well as Greater China comptroller.

She is now the highest-ranking Filipino woman in P&G Philippines.

What is even more remarkable, is that she was able to climb the corporate ladder, get married and raise a family of four beautiful girls ranging from 12 to four years old.

How did she achieve such a feat?

According to Evelyn, she actually had no career goals at the start. But what has defined her since her high school years, and what was ingrained in her by her parents, is “doing everything excellently.”

Likewise, she believes that her strong Christian faith is what has kept her grounded. Referring to a Bible verse she reveals that “doing things for Christ keeps my standards high...it is not just about pleasing my human bosses...”

Evelyn’s success could also be attributed to her choice and the opportunity given to her by P&G back in her college years in UP Diliman, specifically in her third year in 1998 when she was chosen to do a summer internship with the company that eventually led to a job offer after she graduated.

She points out that when P&G recruits and hires, the company does so “not necessarily just for a role.” The company she said, every two to three years moves employees around, changes their roles, allowing them to choose if they want to be a “generalist or a specialist.” In her case, Evelyn opted to specialize in finance and general accounting.

But even as she was pursuing her professional career, Evelyn also chose to forge ahead and balance her life by marrying a co-P&G colleague and initially having and raising two daughters while posted in China, and another two when she   returned to the Philippines.

Her success in balancing her work and family commitment, she admits, was having “a strong support system and network,” primarily with a very supportive husband, Garry, and competent nannies to help raise her daughters, allowing her to focus on her work, knowing that her daughters are well taken cared of.

Allowing her to work and raise a family, she acknowledges that P&G offers flexible work hours that allows employees to work from home...way before the pandemic.

“Flex work hours was already practiced in P&G as early as 15 years ago. Hybrid work is, thus, nothing new for the company,” a trend that Evelyn feels will continue in the future, post-pandemic.

The post pandemic work situation, as Evelyn sees it, will continue to involve flexible work arrangements and digital technologies.

However, the caveat will be, according to Evelyn, the underlying trust between the employers and workers, noting that workers have to be self-driven to get results and must be accountable for their output, which will lead to a win-win solution for both employees and companies.

Additionally, Evelyn also points out that P&G has embraced equality and inclusion in its workplace, resulting in a 50-50 balance in all management levels.

Evelyn, in fact, now leads P&G Philippines’s Equality and Inclusion Council.

“I’m privileged to work in a company where senior leaders truly live and breathe an inclusive culture. This is a big enabler as it levels the playing field for everyone. Working with the P&G local office and other regional headquarters throughout my career, I never felt like I was not listened to or my ideas were dismissed because of my gender,” she said.

Even so, Evelyn believes that there is still a need to continue to break the so-called “glass ceiling,” noting that while the total workforce now has a 50-50 balance, “Why does that number go down?” Especially as it get to the top posts.

She cites research that has shown that diverse and inclusive organizations deliver stronger business results.  Thus, she continues to ask the question, “Why does the glass ceiling still exist?”

Evelyn believes there is still a need to change predisposition and biases of the male population at the c-suite level, who oftentimes ignore personal choices of females by not offering them top level positions.

For her, male managers “need to provide more support and offer the right sponsorship” to their female employees.

“Don’t make the career decision for your female managers,” noting that the male managers oftentimes have made “the sub-consconscious decision that women coming back after they are mothers may not want to take opportunities.”

On the contrary, Evelyn stresses that the question should be asked and that the males should not make that career decision, especially since they may be surprised that females, when posed the question do believe that “I can do both,”

In her own experience, Evelyn relates that “big opportunities could be scary because of risk of failure is very high.” Her advice, though, is “go for it,’’ repeating the adage that the biggest risk also yields the biggest success or reward.

She recalls that her own work-life balance mentor in P&G, when she reached a similar crossroad as a junior manager, had asked her that if she did not take the opportunity presented to her, would she work less? If she was not likely to work less, then her mentor told her “might as well get the right pay for the work your are doing!”

To aspiring young females about to embark on their own career path, Evelyn’s advice is “Don’t overthink it!”

She suggests that when an opportunity presents itself, the decision-making process should be focused on the moment rather than looking too far ahead into the future and at other variables that might come into play at a much later time.

“When at that point needed to make a decision... don’t think about five to 10 years, focus only on what is there right now, and go for it!

Evelyn is clearly happy with the decisions she has made up to this point, appreciating her choice to have a big family, who during the pandemic has kept her happy and busy.

For her own daughters, Evelyn is trying to impart to them the need to have clear priorities...something that was also taught to her by her mentors in P&G.

“You have to be clear on what your priorities are and realize your time.”

For Evelyn her priorities, thus, include being a mother and wife, for whom she reserves her weekends for the family and maintaining their spiritual development.

Another key element she wants to be able to give to her daughters is life skills...”making sure what is the right thing to do; making ethical choices; having the right work ethic.”

As such Evelyn and her husband teach their children not so much with the goal of just getting good grades, but rather “Did you do your best? Did you prepare for it?”

And lastly, Evelyn refers to the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” or finding that intersection where your passion lies, what your strengths are, and what your purpose is. “Ideally, if you can find the intersection where all three meet, there you get more success.”

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