More women leaders find rightful place at the tech table
Women are proving themselves to be effective leaders in the technology and finance sectors, especially with the current challenges to digitalization posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the recent virtual Asia-Pacific launch of the Women Future 2021 conference, a number of female industry players shared their experiences in navigating the tough terrain caused by the global health crisis in the region.
Among those who spoke at the virtual gathering was Insular Life senior vice president and chief marketing officer Gae Martinez, who discussed her company’s “Sheroes Movement” campaign, whose four pillars are financial literacy, health and fitness, finding solutions geared toward women, and opening access to business and social networks.
When the Inquirer asked what makes women effective in industries traditionally dominated by men, Martinez said, “Women professionals are family-focused, have strong foresight, and are self-development-oriented.”
Leila Martin, president of the first government-backed digital bank Overseas Filipino Bank, agreed.
“Asian women are highly educated and have a strong work ethic. We also have the tenacity to learn different languages, which is essential if we want to connect globally,” she explained.
GCash chief technology and operations officer Pebbles Sy cited the environment in the Philippines that allowed women to prosper in their chosen fields, saying the country’s gender equality situation is better than in some neighboring territories.
“Half of our senior leadership in GCash are women and it wasn’t intentional, we just hired the best. There’s really no barrier for us women, it’s just about doing your job and working hard,” she continued.
Kimstore.com owner and founder Kim Lato shared how she stood her ground, and pursued her electronics store as a fresh college graduate during the financial crisis in 2008.
“My dad said it was not practical doing this as a side hustle, what more as a full time hustle. He told me it’s not going to work. But when I spoke to my mom, I said it’s going to be big in the future,” she shared.
And how prophetic that statement has become for her, because Kimstore is now the biggest electronics “e-tailer” in the country. “I wanna be the Amazon of electronics in the Philippines,” Lato said.
Fintech Space Taiwan managing director Shan Luo, meanwhile, recognized women’s “passion and patience,” saying it is “very important to have the soft skill in hard discussions.”
Wijitleka Marome, deputy director of Bank of Thailand’s Fintech Department, agreed. “Female senior executives can express their capability and competencies to support the innovations,” she said.
For her part, Monetary Authority of Singapore manager Jael Tan said, “What’s important is making connections on a bilateral basis and then growing it into a bigger collaboration. The road ahead of innovation seems daunting, but we are always thinking big and making small partnerships along the way.”
Xendit Philippines managing director Yang Yang Zhang, a global citizen whose experience extends from the West to the East, said she chose to set up shop in Asia, the Philippines in particular, because of the growth prospects.
“Asia is a place that welcomed innovation and welcomed disruption. In Asia, there’s a spirit of openness,” she said. “The Philippines is poised for hyper-growth, and I want to be part of that,” Zhang continued.
Lato also acknowledged the pandemic as “the catalyst to amplify e-commerce initiatives” not only in the Philippines, but in the Asia-Pacific region as well.
For more extensive discussions on women’s role in the fields of technology and finance, and to hear more from the female leaders who helped shape the global landscape, interested individuals are invited to the Women Future Conference on Nov. 1 to 5.
—Armin P. Adina, CONTRIBUTOR
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