Filipina CEO: Mindset, not gender, is key to success
Alixandra Caole Vila (Philstar.com) - September 16, 2016 - 5:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — While it has long been known that gender is not what makes a person a great leader, we continue to see dismal statistics about the progress of professional women in the workplace.

From this standpoint, the Filipina CEO Circle (FCC) was born. The FCC is composed of 43 active members from various industries, including business process outsourcing, finance, health, commercial aviation, real estate, information technology and advertising.

Formally launched on September 15 at the Shangri-La at the Fort, the FCC aims to help career women and the younger generations reach their full potential by mentoring, inspiring and empowering them.

An equal, not a woman

At the press conference on Thursday, members of the FCC shared their inspiring stories to success, the tough choices they made and what drove them to reach the top of the corporate ladder.

Surprisingly, what motivated them seemed to be free of any gender dilemmas. Just like corporate men, it was simply these women's hunger for success and independence that pushed them to reach the summit of their career. This is the the story of Cristina Concepcion, FCC president and CEO of finance outsourcing pioneer BPOI.

Cristina Concepcion, FCC's president believes the younger generations of women should never lose the drive to pursue their career goals.

The corporate leader who spent her early career years in New York essentially finds the workplace's “gender issue” thought provoking. While gender bias is existent, she admitted, there are some instances that it may not even manifest.

“I don’t think of gender. Gender is important, don’t get me wrong. I know that there are gender issues all the time, but a lot of it is unconscious. For me, what’s important is to do your best work regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. The rest takes care of itself,” she explained.

Having worked alongside the rowdy crowd on Wall Street, Cristina said she never once considered herself a “woman” who needs any special attention or treatment. For her, there’s no better way to rise above the gender bias, than by simply brushing it off.

“I never really paid attention to it (gender bias), if the issue even existed (during her days in New York). Women should be recognized not just because they are women, but because have the capability and competence to do the job. I want to be given the job because I am the best person for that job, and to me that is what’s important.”

 

It’s all in the head

Success takes a lot of awfully long days and sleepless nights, but the biggest challenge a career woman has to face is not written on the piles of paper on your desk nor the number of client meetings you have to endure. It’s in your head.

“I mentored a couple of young women and I found that the biggest challenge is the limitation in their head. This one person has this thought… that she already achieved something, why should she want more?”

For Cristina, success begins with having the biggest dreams and there is nothing wrong with wanting more and going outside the line.

“It’s not about being greedy. It’s about fulfilling who you are as a person. You want more, then go for it. Don’t let convention, or other people stop you.”

Growing up, Cristina had experienced having people doubt her life decisions. But in the end, she chose to follow her gut because it’s remarkably freeing and satisfying.

Over the course of her sterling career, Cristina has learned to put aside thoughts that may distract her from achieving her goals, rather she learned to focus on what matters most—pursuing the glorious path of excellence.

Asked about her advice to young women professionals she said they should never let gender issues or anything that’s in their head put their goals out of reach. “For young women, it’s really saying that ‘kaya ko yan. I can do that.’”

 

'INSPIRED'

Women may not always recognize their ability to take on leadership positions, but their potential are undeniable.

Whereas we do not lack women who dream, we are short of women who actually pursue their dream.

The FCC was initiated basically to provide and support career women and younger generations to make them realize that their dreams are worth pursuing.

Stories often inspire us with their powerful messages. Thus, FCC recently unveiled "INSPIRED," a collection of stories and life lessons of the FCC’s active members—overcoming challenges, refining leadership styles, doing what you love and taking on the world.

Members of FCC entertain questions from the media before hosting a forum entitled “Inspired Conversations: From the NOW Gen to the NEXT Gen" on September 15 at the Shangri-La at the Fort.

Asked why they decided to come up with a book, Cristina said: “We decided to make a book not just to write about our bio, but ultimately to make a difference. Our backgrounds are very different and in the book, there’s a story there that kids out there will be able to relate to.”

“When you look behind the photos of the book and you look at the stories, I don’t think there is anyone who will not be moved or inspired,” she added.

Pursuing a corporate path and aiming to reach the top is not easy. But for Cristina and the FCC, the arrival of remarkable women CEOs in the Philippines is just the beginning. The new face of success has arrived.

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