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‘Leader In You’ transforms life, builds a better society

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By Marinel Peroy 

Gone are the days when women take the sideline, and men take the lead and women submit and follow. This typecasting has rapidly changed even before the advent of the digital renaissance takes place, as many women leaders already surfaced in unexpected times and situations not just locally but also globally.

Some of the women leaders in the Philippines who took part in the WOMEN LEAD 2024.

Even in the diplomatic community in the Philippines, the landscape has changed a lot as many women ambassadors took the helm of their respective embassies and have been making a lot of impact in the country through their creative initiatives and focused activities such as media freedom, gender equality, equal job opportunity, health and mental health, public diplomacy, cultural activities, among others.

The 14 Women Ambassadors from different embassies who were posted in the Philippines back in 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of the United States in the Philippines.) Read related story:

Empowered Women were not openly discussed before. As to whether it’s a product of gender bias or cultural infirmity, the fact remains women will always be there to stand up like men in times of adversity. Through the years, women have been at the forefront of change that needs to be done, whether in the family, community, or even in the workplace. These empowered women continuously disrupt the old norms, break the stereotypes, and create a difference in their own unique ways. 

Beauty and Brains: Entrepreneur and Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines’ Head of Marketing and Event, Gabrielle Hahn Lopez did a fantastic job hosting the event.

Yesterday, March 8, the Italian Chamber of Commerce Philippines (ICCPI) and Global Women BPW Manila hosted the Women Lead Conference 2024 at Dusit Thani Manila wherein powerful testimonials from Filipino women leaders have become the source of courage and inspiration as the world celebrates International Women’s Day.

The heart sign reminds me of my favorite line in the book, “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince) when I was still studying French language. It says and I quote, “On ne voit clairement qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible aux yeux.” (It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye).

The roster of powerhouse women business leaders in the country with their unique experiences and stories to tell put everyone in awe as they shared their journeys from very diverse sectors such as media, transportation, communications, academe, medicine, health and wellness, and government, among others. The metamorphosis is commendable – from having a minuscule voice, these women challenge the status quo and exemplify as an inspiration to others. 

Start the lead with ‘grit’ 

Keynote speaker Charo Santos-Concio, Executive Consultant of ABS-CBN, emphasized the essentials of an empowered woman: self-determination, competence, meaning, impact; and lastly, constant reinvention. Reminiscing her childhood experiences, Santos-Concio shared how every moment in her served as its catalyst to where she is today. It was the unexpected driving force that was unimaginable for her to happen and achieve.

Charo Santos-Concio, Executive Consultant of ABS-CBN, recalls how a reluctant Woman Leader like her accepted the challenge and became the country’s first woman CEO of the country’s giant media company dominated by men.

By making history as the first woman CEO of the country’s giant media company, ABS-CBN, she revealed how she was led to be a storyteller and served as a voice from a male-dominated industry by “championing the triumph of the human spirit” as well as touching the lives of “Filipinos from all walks of life” through her craft. She also hopes that women will continue to thrive by combining traits of hard work, grit, and determination in doing work “from love” in their own chosen fields.

Interesting women not just of form but more so of substance were given the spotlight through fireside chat, testimonials and panel discussions covering leadership, entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and beauty to mental wellness, as well as embodying a modern woman.

GCash CEO Martha Sazon reiterates the need for “Purpose Driven Leadership”.

GCash CEO Martha Sazon shared that as a leader, it is important to be purpose-driven while epitomizing someone who has the traits of authenticity, entrepreneurial spirit, flexibility, and also empathy. She underscored the importance of honing skills and knowing the ‘why’ behind each endeavor being undertaken. Other speakers also highlighted the power of ‘saying no’, how a supportive partner can influence your progress, and the importance of embracing your unique self-worth not just as a woman but as an individual. 

Keeping a ‘Safe Space’ in the workplace

Meanwhile, celebrity lawyer and TV Host Atty. Gaby Concepcion, underscored the importance of creating a safe space in the workplace, whether in private or public. She noted that companies or institutions and company leaders or executives must take a conscious effort to ensure all women regardless of age are safe and protected from sexual harassment, whether verbal or non-verbal, discrimination, intimidation, and other gender bias practices.

Celebrity lawyer and TV Host Atty. Gaby Concepcion, underscores the importance of creating a safe space in the workplace, whether in a private or public setting.

She also cited the prevalence of sexual harassment in various educational institutions and pointed out that this should not be the case at the onset given the fact that the school is the second home, and must always be a safe haven for the students.

Atty. Concepcion also gave some valuable pointers to the audience, on how to thwart sexual harassment or gender-related violence in the workplace and continue to provide safe space for women by documenting, reporting, and ensuring that there is always harmony in the workplace. She believes that by doing so, it leads to productivity and a better society that fosters respect, camaraderie, and appreciation of one’s uniqueness and diversity.

Global Women BPW Manila head Rayla Allertsen, popularly known as “Teacher Rayla” reiterates the need for collaboration between Men and Women and not to treat each other as adversaries. She further underscores that by synergistically being involved together, a lot can be achieved for the growth and development of society and the people.

Last but not least, Global Women BPW Manila head Rayla Allertsen, an educator by profession and well-loved teacher emphasized in the sideline interview when asked about what the Women Lead International Conference is to her and her fellow Filipina leaders and she said the complementing roles of men and women in society, citing her own relationship with her Italian husband, Hermod “Buster” Allertsen.

From left, Global Women BPW Manila head Rayla Allertsen, Monsi A. Serrano, Founder THEPHILBIZNEWS, and moi.

“We women are not in competition with men. Men and women, as how God created us must be there to support each other. They should lift each other, and not to “PH D” or Pull Her Down or Pull Him Down,” she emphasized.

If there’s one thing that should be remembered from all of the speakers’ insights, that would be to strive for excellence instead of chasing success! Everything is an unending process and lifelong learning that the schools don’t teach. To highlight, one of the panelists shared how she conquered cancer while remaining focused on her vision. Now, she’s making a legacy globally by sticking to her mission.

Keeping a HaPy Disposition is contagious. Don’t fret. Count your blessings.
Another inspiring activity was the panel discussion and award-winning strategic marketing communications and President of TeamAsia Monette Iturralde Hamlin, president and founder of TeamAsia, did an excellent job.

The heartwarming stories and practical insights I heard still resonate with me. While I am still young, being an empowered woman at my age and in the workplace which I call my home and haven, is a big blessing for me. I hope that one day I can also be an agent of inspiration to my fellow women and also to men. I am truly grateful and highly appreciate the opportunity to be immersed with such remarkable women with great mindsets, incredible attitudes, and powerful life-transforming stories.

These two great gentlemen of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Sergio Boero, the President, and Lorens Ziller Executive Director, are the men behind the success of WOMEN LEAD 2024.

As fate comes with faith within ourselves, may we continue to forge our own paths, draw straight from a crooked line, and manifest our vision into a purposeful mission while building an inclusive community. 

To all women out there, do not stop crafting your own destiny. Leave and ignore doubts, learn from the setbacks, and keep believing in yourself and your vision that in God’s appointed time it will take you to places where you are meant to be and make difference to others and in the society. As the old adage goes, “If it has to be, it is all up to me!”

The Philippine Business and News is a proud media partner of WOMEN LEAD 2024.

Happy International Women’s Month! 


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