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Meet two women making fintech attractive, approachable

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 05:30 AM August 25, 2019

Lei Buendia, Refinitiv director for contributed content, customer operations and managed services, and Donna Formilleza, director for Eikon Support. — PHOTOS BY JAM STA. ROSA

Bold, open and focused.

These are the values of financial technology company Refinitiv that set them apart from industry competition, as they have helped cultivate a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

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The evidence? Refinitiv Philippines’ cosite leads are both successful, empowered women: Lei Buendia and Donna Formilleza.

“One of our promises here in Refinitiv is that ‘we don’t create jobs, we build careers.’ We have a really strong commitment to our talent,” says Buendia, director for contributed content, customer operations and managed services. “Talent development is really our key differentiator across the industry.”

Both women are testament to this commitment: Buendia has been with the company for almost two decades, starting her career then as data analyst; Formilleza, who started in tech support, has been around for 10 years. Refinitiv used to be the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters, the result of the closing of the strategic partnership between Thomson Reuters and private equity funds managed by Blackstone, which now owns 55 percent of Refinitiv (the remaining 45 percent is still under Thomson Reuters).

The fintech, which Buendia calls “an old but new” company, is one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, serving over 40,000 institutions in over 190 countries. It provides leading data and insights, trading platforms and open data and technology platforms that connect the global financial markets community, thus driving performance in trading, investment, wealth management, regulatory compliance, market data management, enterprise risk and fighting financial crime.

Buendia compares the company to a huge library, which contains the best information on all things related to the financial industry. Formilleza, on the other hand, compares Refinitiv to one’s mobile device.

“We are the device, which, once you open, has a wide variety of ‘apps’—our products,” she says. Formilleza is currently Refinitiv’s director for Eikon Support; Eikon 5 is the company’s newest product, an open desktop platform that helps their customers make intelligent decisions for their businesses as well as scale their businesses.

Refinitiv’s value proposition, however, extends beyond its products and services, the two say. As Buendia mentioned, it is how they cultivate and develop their people that sets the company apart, which they do so through a number of innovative employee engagement programs that create a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Donna Formilleza and Lei Buendia

“That’s how we attract new talent and retain seasoned ones,” Formilleza says.

One such program is the Refinitiv Prism Network, which is geared toward employees who are members of the LGBTIQ+ community. According to an article by Refinitiv chief revenue officer Debra Walton posted on the company’s website, the network is all about “making LGBT+ inclusion part of [the company’s] DNA.”

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The company is also strongly supportive of its female employees—Buendia and Formilleza attest to that. “Even before the expanded maternity leave act, we were already offering a 95-day maternity leave to employees. So we’re reviewing our policy again because we’re now [on a par] with the market, and we want to be better,” Formilleza says. “Globally, there’s an objective for 2020: that 40 percent of [Refinitiv’s] workforce, particularly in leadership roles, should be women. We’re running at 38 percent, so we’re almost there. The Philippines is matriarchal—55 percent of our workforce are women.”

Formilleza adds Refinitiv is also the first fintech company to provide benefits for domestic partnerships, including same-sex, such as health insurance—something that the company did in 2013, resulting in financial companies following suit.

Asked how they were able to build such robust careers in a male-dominated industry, both Buendia and Formilleza acknowledge the fact they were lucky to have been mentored by supportive managers. The two women are now mentors themselves, as Refinitiv also has a formal mentorship program in place.

“We also have informal mentorship, wherein we go out, chat with our colleagues. Personally, I’ve had both formal and informal mentors, former managers that are now my friends, and they’ve really helped me navigate the global aspect of the role,” says Buendia, who, in her current position, is responsible for 600 people across Refinitiv’s different offices.

As cosite leads, Buendia and Formilleza have two main goals: to strengthen the Refinitiv brand and to continue growing their workforce. Now at 1,300 (half of whom have been with the company for at least a decade, Formilleza notes), Refinitiv Philippines hopes to add a couple of hundred more employees with background in business, information technology and finance.

To do so, the two ladies rely, again, on those three words: bold, open, focused.

“We are bold, open and focused in so many ways—and that’s what sets us apart. We’re very bold in the actions that we take, and we’re very forward-looking. We’re also open to criticism, to feedback, and we act on that feedback,” Buendia says. “As for being focused, one of the things we learned, time really is the most important commodity. So to be agile, we really focus on things that matter for the organization.”

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TAGS: Donna Formilleza, Lei Buendia, Refinitiv Philippines
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