Seven tips for women leaders: insights from the new book ‘Disrupt’

Madanmohan Rao
14th Nov 2014
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Seven useful tips for aspiring women leaders are offered by the brand new book, ‘DISRUPT: Proud. Loud. Leading Without a Doubt.’ Edited by Maria Beebe and Maya Escudero, the book has been published by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN).


The book is a collective synthesis on the meaning of 35 Filipina women’s leadership experiences as they navigated the corporate cultures in the global workplace. The book was launched at the 11th Filipina Leadership Global Summit in Manila, Philippines, in October 2014.The contributing authors are recipients of FWN’s 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World Award, and each chapter ends with their recommendations for aspiring women leaders. The concluding ‘Synthesis’ chapter clusters the key tips into the following categories.

1. Have a higher sense of purpose. Cultivate a bigger sense of meaning. You are here for a reason — live with purpose and passion every day. Follow your heart and work for something that is bigger than yourself. Maintain a good connection to your ancestors and to the Divine.

2. Tap the deeper aspects of your own national culture. Many Asian cultures are community-oriented and draw on deep traditions. Embrace the positive aspects of your culture and tie your success to the success of those around you as well.

3. Build your sense of character and ethics. Keep true to your core values but remain open to other viewpoints and possibilities. Have courage, and resolve to go forward even when risk is involved. Keep your promises and maintain a good reputation.

4. Know yourself and work on transforming yourself. Look within and examine why you want to lead. Choose the career which brings out the passion in you. Cultivate the art of positive thinking. Walk with confidence and carry yourself with pride.

5. Exceed expectations, and excel in whatever you do. Whenever you aim for perfection, you may find it is a moving target. Adapt to new challenges and keep excelling in every domain you enter.

6. Lead for impact. Inspire your teams and serve the people. Set high standards for success. Think beyond the role of a CEO: you should be seen as a management role model, an oracle, as well as an icon for those who wish to ascend to the top.

7. Give back to society. Give back to the next generation, and give back to the less fortunate and under-privileged. Share stories, they are important in inspiring others. Bring others along with you in your journey; share the lessons you have learned and create pathways for others to work for their own successes. Give back starting from today, right now: civic engagement happens in the present, not when you retire.

“These leadership tips and themes show how a holistic interpretation of leadership rooted in the local as well as global can help Diaspora communities develop their own internal and external dialogues to succeed as leaders,” the editors Beebe and Escudero explain. Globalisation will continue to add and blend leadership perspectives of regions ranging from the Americas and Europe to Africa and Asia.

Each individual story in the book makes for a fascinating read, written by Filipina women leaders in the Philippines and diverse parts of the world, including the US, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Brazil and Canada. Many had humble and simple beginnings in life, but later became achievers in their professional fields and broke glass ceilings. They challenged cultural and political biases, and along the way learned to embrace the best of Asian and Western values and traditions.

For example, Editor-in-Chief Maria Africa Beebe is a sociolinguist interested in intercultural communication and has an M.A. in Anthropology and Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University. Her research interests include critical discourse analysis, women’s leadership and ICT for development. She co-edited the book AfricaDotEdu: IT Opportunities and Higher Education in Africa. Managing Editor Maya Ong Escudero has over 20 years of experience in education, development, community activism and fundraising.

Cristeta Comerford Cris has been the executive chef for the White House since 2005 and is the first woman and person of ethnic minority origin to hold the position. Ruth Uy Asmundson served two terms as mayor of Davis, California.

Judge Cheryl Nora Moss has served in public office as the State of Nevada’s first Filipino elected to a District Court. Janet Susan Rodriguez Nepales is the first and only Filipina member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that gives the Golden Globe Awards.

Michele Bumgarner is the first Filipina to reach the top level of open-wheel motorsports, and was the first female winner in the Asian Formula 3 Series and the youngest female participant in 2006. Michele became the first female champion of the Rock Island Grand Prix in Rock Island, Illinois, the world’s largest street karting race.

Adela Sering-Fojas is the CEO and co-founder of Seven Seven Corporate Group, a comprehensive and integrated IT services company. Marife Zamora is Chairperson of Convergys Philippines Services, a branch of Convergys Corporation, a global leader in customer management. Astrid S. Tuminez joined Microsoft as the Regional Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs for Southeast Asia in 2012.

Nina D. Aguas is a leading Filipina banker who has held key positions at Citigroup within Asia-Pacific and New York, and is President and CEO of the Philippine Bank of Communications. Sonia T. Delen-Fitzimmons is a Senior Vice President for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in San Francisco.

Mary Jane Alvero Al-Mahdi is a Chemical Engineer and CEO of Geoscience Testing Laboratory (GTL) in the United Arab Emirates; her projects include the prestigious Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai and the Dubai Metro.

Suzie Moya Benitez is Executive Director of the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation and brought Filipino music and dance to the grassroots and the global scene. Gloria Caoile is National Political Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.

Kristine M. Custodio is a Senior Paralegal/Business Development Director for Butterfield Schechter & Van Clief LLP. Carmencita M. David-Padilla is Professor of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines. She crafted the Newborn Screening Act of 2004.

Penelope V. Flores is Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University, Multicultural Education, Mathematics Education and Teacher Credential program. She was a consultant to UNESCO, USAID, AED, UNDP, and to Ministries of Education in Nepal, Indonesia, and Ethiopia. Annalisa Enrile is Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Julieta Gabiola is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.

Delia B. Rodriguez-Amaya is the first woman president of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. She was professor of Food Engineering, University of Campinas. Mira Gillet is trained in Design Thinking through Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, and is the founder and director of Peace Game online.

Lenore RS Lim is winner of the Outstanding Professional Award for Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines. Soledad Muesco Manaay is the President of Xicepta Sciences and CEO of Biologic Cosmetics, a manufacturer of molecular cosmetics.

Imelda Nicolas is Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, a Cabinet-level position under the President of the Philippines. Patricia Ann V. Paez is the Ambassador of the Philippines to Poland and non-resident Ambassador to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

Susie Quesada is the President of Ramar Foods International, the leading manufacturer of Filipino and Asian frozen food in the U.S. Lirio Sobreviñas-Covey founded the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines (AAAP) in 2012 to focus on diagnostic, policy and treatment issues affecting the lives of autism families. Cora Manese Tellez founded Sterling Health Services Administration (HAS) in 2004.

Amelia Duran-Stanton is Inspector General and a Physician Assistant with the US Army Medical Command. Ernestina delos Santos-Mac struggled her way up against ‘non-believers’ and now has made a lifetime commitment to help the less-fortunate.

Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe has lived and worked for more than half her life in Japan, including as Deputy Director for Investment at the ASEAN-Japan Centre. Loida Nicolas Lewis served as Chair and CEO of LTC Beatrice International, a $2 billion multinational food company.

Janet C. Mendoza Stickmon is a teacher, performer, and author focusing on ethnic studies and social justice. Elena Mangahas is Chairperson for FWN and Marily Mondejar is its CEO.

“This book project is a deep examination of how Filipina women in the Diaspora thrived in the challenges of living in the modern multi-cultural global economy,” sums up Susie Quesada, President of FWN, which is based in San Francisco but is now committed to improving the status of Filipina women worldwide. FWN’s annual award for The Most Influential Filipina Women in the World recognises Filipina women who are influencing the face of leadership in the global workplace.


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