10 Inspiring Women Leaders in EX Who Are Shaping the Future of Work (Philippines)

In the Filipino business and industry segments, a transformative wave has emerged, led by a cadre of exceptional women leaders who have not only broken barriers but have also reshaped the narrative of Employee Experience (EX).

These visionary women, with their unparalleled skills and unwavering dedication, have become trailblazers, steering the course of the workplace toward a future defined by inclusivity, innovation, and empowerment. 

From finance to technology, from media to entrepreneurship, these women have left an indelible mark on the professional landscape, proving that gender does not impede leadership.

In a groundbreaking global report conducted in 2020, surveying 4,812 businesses across thirty-two countries, the Philippines emerged as a beacon of gender diversity and empowerment in the corporate realm. 

Notably, the archipelago secured the top spot in the number of women holding senior management and top leadership positions. 

This remarkable achievement surpassed traditionally recognized economic powerhouses, including the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, and France.

Having said that, let us delve into the stories of 10 inspiring women who have stepped up to redefine the future of work in the Philippines:

1. Natividad “Naty” Cheng

Natividad “Naty” Cheng stands as a formidable figure in the field of finance and leadership, having left an indelible mark during her tenure as the Former President and CEO of the Philippine National Bank (PNB). 

With a distinguished career characterized by excellence, strategic vision, and a commitment to financial integrity, Naty Cheng has been an asset in the Philippine banking sector.

Her ascent to the pinnacle of the PNB, one of the country’s leading financial institutions, speaks volumes about her prowess in navigating the complexities of the financial landscape. 

Under her stewardship, PNB experienced periods of growth and innovation, adapting to the evolving demands of the industry. 

Naty Cheng brought to the role not only a keen understanding of finance but also a strategic mindset that allowed the bank to thrive amid dynamic economic conditions.

Her leadership style is often characterized by a combination of resilience and forward-thinking. Her ability to navigate challenges and identify opportunities has been instrumental in reinforcing PNB’s position in the financial sector. 

Beyond the boardroom, Naty Cheng has been an advocate for financial literacy and inclusion, recognizing the transformative power of accessible financial services for individuals and businesses. 

Moreover, she puts a strong focus on shaping the employee experience.

Her career trajectory reflects a commitment to not only steering a financial institution toward success but also contributing to the broader economic development of the Philippines. 

As a woman leader in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Naty Cheng’s achievements resonate as a testament to breaking gender barriers and inspiring aspiring leaders (both women and men) to strive for excellence in their respective fields.

2. Teresita Sy-Coson

Teresita Sy-Coson, the Vice Chairperson of SM Investments Corporation, is an influential and highly respected businesswoman celebrated for her profound contributions to the retail industry in the Philippines. 

Her remarkable journey has shaped the landscape of entrepreneurship, as she has always spoken openly for the rights of employees to enhance their experience!

As a member of the Sy family, Teresita Sy-Coson has been an instrumental figure in steering SM Investments Corporation, one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines, to unprecedented heights. 

The conglomerate, with interests spanning retail, banking, real estate, and other sectors, owes much of its success to this exceptional lady!

In the retail sector, Teresita Sy-Coson has played a pivotal role in the growth and expansion of the SM Retail Group. 

Under her guidance, the group has transformed the shopping experience for millions of Filipinos through the establishment of SM Supermalls, a chain of malls that has become synonymous with modern retail in the Philippines. 

Beyond physical retail spaces, her vision has led to the integration of e-commerce and innovative retail concepts, ensuring that SM remains at the forefront of the industry’s evolution.

Teresita Sy-Coson is renowned not only for her business acumen but also for her commitment to corporate social responsibility. 

She has been actively involved in initiatives that promote sustainability, community development, and education, reflecting a holistic approach to business leadership.

3. Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa stands as an important figure in the world of journalism, renowned for her role as the CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler. Apart from her editorial duties, she has become a symbol of press freedom and a vocal advocate for workers’ rights in the Philippines.

As the co-founder of Rappler, a leading online news platform in the Philippines, Maria Ressa has played a pivotal role in shaping the digital media landscape. 

Under her leadership, Rappler has gained recognition for its commitment to investigative journalism, providing critical insights into Philippine politics, social issues, and beyond. 

Maria Ressa’s editorial vision has positioned Rappler at the forefront of the conversation on media innovation and responsibility.

However, Maria Ressa’s journey has been marked by challenges, particularly in the context of press freedom and freedom of expression. Her unwavering commitment to truth-telling has made her a target of legal challenges and political pressures. 

Despite facing legal cases and intimidation, she has remained steadfast in her dedication to independent journalism and the protection of the free press.

Her efforts in defending the fundamental principles of journalism have earned her international recognition, including prestigious awards such as the Nobel Peace Prize and Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

4. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a seasoned political figure in the Philippines, having served as the 14th President of the country from 2001 to 2010. 

While her primary focus is on legislative matters, her leadership style and policy initiatives have implications for various aspects of governance, including employee experience.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been recognized for her strategic approach to economic policies during her presidency. 

Her administration implemented measures to stimulate economic growth and development, introducing reforms to attract foreign investments and bolster the country’s economic stability. 

These policies had implications for the job market and employment opportunities, indirectly influencing the employee experience by contributing to a more robust and dynamic economy.

Her focus on economic development and infrastructure projects reflects a commitment to improving the overall quality of life for citizens, which includes considerations for the workforce.

5. Aisa Mijeno

Aisa Mijeno is a Filipino inventor and entrepreneur, best known as the Co-founder and CEO of SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting). 

Her work revolves around developing sustainable and innovative solutions, particularly in the realm of lighting, with a focus on providing environmentally friendly and accessible technologies. 

Aisa’s endeavors have not only showcased her technical prowess but also her commitment to addressing social and environmental challenges.

SALt gained significant attention for its innovative approach to lighting solutions. 

Aisa Mijeno and her team developed a lamp that operates on a saltwater solution, providing a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to traditional lighting sources (especially in areas with limited access to electricity).  

This invention has the potential to improve the lives of communities in remote or off-grid areas by offering a reliable and eco-friendly source of light.

In terms of employee experience, Aisa Mijeno’s leadership style likely reflects the values embedded in SALt’s mission. Employees at SALt may find themselves part of a workplace that prioritizes creativity, environmental consciousness, and a sense of purpose. 

Working in a company with a social impact focus can contribute to a unique and fulfilling employee experience, fostering a sense of pride and motivation among the workforce.

6. Marife Zamora

Marife Zamora was associated with the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and held a significant position as the Chairman of Convergys Philippines. 

She has played a crucial role in the economic landscape of the Philippines. Convergys, being a major player in the outsourcing sector, provides a range of business services, including customer service, technical support, and other essential functions for global clients.

A key aspect of employee experience in the BPO industry is professional growth. 

That’s why Marife Zamora did her best in implementing programs and initiatives that support the continuous development and skill enhancement of employees, ensuring they stay relevant in a rapidly evolving industry.

She recognized the challenges associated with the BPO industry, including irregular hours and high-pressure situations, which got her involved in launching policies and programs focused on employee well-being. 

This included health and wellness initiatives, mental health support, and work-life balance measures.

7. Cathy Yang

Cathy Yang, distinguished as both an Anchor and Managing Editor at ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel), stands out as a seasoned journalist and a driving force in the Philippine media industry. 

Her multifaceted role, combining on-air reporting with editorial responsibilities, underscores her influence in shaping news coverage and potentially impacting the overall employee experience within the newsroom.

Yang’s commitment to accurate and insightful reporting sets a benchmark for excellence within the newsroom, creating an environment where journalists strive for high-quality journalism.

As Managing Editor, Cathy Yang is involved in steering the editorial direction of ANC. Her decisions on story selection, news angles, and editorial policies could influence the newsroom’s culture. 

This leadership role provides an opportunity to shape a newsroom environment that values integrity, ethical reporting, and a commitment to the public’s right to know.

Cathy Yang’s on-air persona and editorial decisions impact the workplace culture at ANC. 

A culture of transparency, open communication, and inclusivity has been fostered under her leadership, creating an environment where every team member feels valued and heard.

8. Riza Mantaring

Riza Mantaring, the Former CEO of Sun Life Financial Philippines, is a highly esteemed leader with a robust background in the insurance and financial sector. 

Her tenure at the helm of Sun Life Financial Philippines exemplifies not only her strategic acumen in navigating the complexities of the industry but also her commitment to enhancing the overall Employee Experience (EX) within the organization.

Mantaring’s career is characterized by her strategic leadership in the finance and insurance sectors. As the CEO, she has played a pivotal role in driving the company’s growth, expanding its market presence, and ensuring financial stability. 

Her insights into the intricacies of the industry have contributed to positioning Sun Life as a leading player in the Philippine financial landscape.

In the financial and insurance sectors, a customer-centric approach is crucial, which Riza Mantaring took great care of! She emphasized the importance of employees understanding and prioritizing customer needs.

As you all know, the financial industry is undergoing a significant technological transformation. Riza Mantaring, with her strategic vision, spearheaded initiatives to integrate innovative technologies within Sun Life Financial Philippines. 

This enhances operational efficiency and contributes to a more dynamic and tech-savvy work environment, positively impacting the employee experience.

9. Maria Vivian Sarabia

Maria Vivian Sarabia, recognized as the President and CEO of Vivian Sarabia Optical, is a notable figure celebrated for her remarkable success in the retail industry. Her leadership has been credited for shaping the retail experience for customers and employees alike.

In the retail sector, the customer experience is closely tied to the employee experience. Thankfully, leaders like Maria Vivian Sarabia understand the importance of cultivating a customer-centric culture where employees are empowered to provide excellent service.

That’s why she has always prioritized the needs and satisfaction of both customers and employees. 

Moreover, Maria Vivian Sarabia’s strategic initiatives included embracing technological advancements, updating product offerings, and creating an in-store experience that aligns with the preferences of modern consumers. 

Through strategic leadership, a customer-centric approach, and a commitment to innovation, she shapes Vivian Sarabia Optical into a brand that succeeds in the retail market and provides a fulfilling and positive experience for the employees working in the organization.

10. Aurora “Rory” P. Maclang

Aurora “Rory” P. Maclang, the CEO and Founder of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc., stands as a dynamic and influential figure in the field of marketing and communications. 

Her leadership has propelled GeiserMaclang to success and played a crucial role in shaping the overall Employee Experience (EX) within the organization.

Rory Maclang’s journey is marked by her entrepreneurial spirit! As the CEO, her leadership is characterized by a combination of strategic vision, creativity, and a keen understanding of the dynamic landscape of marketing and communications.

Being a prominent figure in the marketing field, Rory Maclang’s leadership encourages innovation in marketing strategies. 

This approach ensures GeiserMaclang remains at the forefront of industry trends and creates an exciting and dynamic work environment for employees who thrive on creative thinking and pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing.

The Bottom Line!

The above-mentioned 10 amazing Filipino women leaders have excelled in their respective fields, shaped up employee Experience (EX), and have become beacons of inspiration. 

Their leadership has transcended traditional gender norms, breaking stereotypes about women and showcasing that resilience, intelligence, and vision know no gender boundaries. 

Salute to them!

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