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Women on Top: 4 Bosses Share Their Secrets to Success

Women on Top: 4 Bosses Share Their Secrets to Success

Parenting | March 22, 2022
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From taking charge to breaking the mold, these 4 successful women share their stories on how they rose to the top in a male-dominated world.

If politics is any indication of just how far women have come, then it’s safe to say that we are forging ahead. With a woman aiming for the highest position in the country amidst fierce opposition, controversy, and hope, the Filipinas of today are certainly stepping out and moving up.

Likewise, women are also shaping the future of business. What does it take to become an industry leader? How do they keep their edge? What advice do they have for the younger generation? Read on and get to know four women as they share their thoughts on what it takes to rise to the top.

Maria Lourdes “Lulu” De Castro: VP for Operations of VIVA International Food and Restaurants

Lulu De Castro is a food industry veteran with a total of 17 years of experience in handling different coffee and pizza companies. Currently, she handles the operations of all the VIVA Foods brands: Botejyu, Paper Moon, Pepi Cubano, Wing Zone, Yogorino, and the recently opened Greyhound Café in SM Aura.

“I love the dynamism that my job entails. From ensuring that we consistently deliver quality food and service, translating directives from the main office to on-site operations, and working with different government agencies to secure the safety of our employees—the buck stops with me,” says Lulu.

That’s why she considers ownership as an indispensable trait. “At the start of the pandemic, we chose to operate only the stores we deemed viable—thereby keeping the brand alive, as well as sustaining the income of our employees,” she explains.

“Having two teams on rotation also meant that we could readily call on one group should somebody get sick from the other. Difficult choices had to be made under difficult circumstances. Taking ownership is important because it builds trust, support, and bonds with our team members, our guests, our partners, and the communities we belong to.”

In business, cash is king. According to Lulu, the only businesses that survived (and continue to do so) are the ones that were able to manage their cash efficiently. “For us, it meant closing losing stores, streamlining the menu, getting creative with our meal bundles, and creating an in-house delivery platform.”

Now that the economy is opening, halted plans will push through. “VIVA Foods will continue to bring authentic and delicious international flavors to the Philippine market. We just opened Greyhound Café in SM Aura and [we’re] very delighted to see a daily full capacity of diners enjoying our Thai cuisine with a twist.”

To what does she attribute her success? Lulu says, “I am able to achieve all these because of my faith. I choose kindness especially when it’s hardest to do. We reap what we sow—that goes for business as in life.

On Top of the Food Chain—Lulu has one piece of advice for young girls. “An unconscious bias still exists against women holding vital corporate positions. That’s why it’s imperative to make yourself a priority. Believe in yourself, assert your position in the world, and take ownership.

Janette “Jann” Capistrano Delgado: Director of Sales and Marketing of New World Makati Hotel

With over 20 years of experience in the hotel industry, Jann Delgado has had multiple exposures in functions across Public Relations and Communications, Sales and Revenue, and Reservations before becoming the Sales and Marketing Head of New World Makati Hotel.

I’m passionate about my work. It challenges me to do better. From managing the daily grind, surmounting targets, uplifting and developing my people, to always delivering excellent service to our guests—I have committed to always outdo my best,” Jann says enthusiastically.

However, like all businesses, the hotel industry was hit badly by the pandemic. “Everybody was on survival mode at the start. My team had to be agile; we had to respond decisively and quickly,” she explains. “We implemented a shift to virtual interactions, activated our delivery system, and (for a time) went fully digital in all our transactions, all the while maintaining relationships and extending more value to our customers amidst the constraints.”

This agility has helped Jann to pivot once more, now that people are starting to go out and stay at hotels again. “We must strike a balance between virtual and face-to-face interactions in order to foster meaningful relationships with our guests. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of the surges so that we can fully operate in the new normal.”

Seasoned Hotelier—Jann Delgado credits female mentors, who helped open doors for her, as catalysts to her success. “Women should mentor and support other women. Young girls must take advantage of every opportunity. Life is not a waiting game,” she says.

Theresa “Candy” Hernando: Owner and CEO of Ayumi Nail Art and Eyelash Extension Salon Corporation

Candy Hernando had a lightbulb moment during one fateful Friday night train ride in Tokyo. She had been working there as an average quality control employee for almost a decade when she saw a group of Japanese women all dolled up (with pretty eyelashes and perfectly manicured nails) on her way home. Turns out, the bevy of workers had treated themselves to pampering salons on a weekend.

What if I could bring this beauty experience back to Manila, she thought. The idea gnawed at her until she decided to take a leap of faith. Soon after, she signed a partnership deal with Japanese brand DOT1101 and started her own company Ayumi in 2014. (Ayumi means “one with beautiful eyes” in Japanese.)

Fast forward to today, Ayumi prides itself on offering cruelty-free, lightweight authentic Japanese lashes. Moreover, Ayumi boasts of 26 branches nationwide with one more soon to open in Uptown BGC and three more before year-end. “When I started in the beauty business, I felt there was a niche to be filled in terms of providing quality lash and nail services. Ayumi has always invested in basic and upskill training, as well as product development meetings with our Japanese counterpart. This keeps us ahead of the game,” Candy enthuses.

The standard is a 3-month intensive training for the staff, but I go beyond that by conducting recalibration training if needed. I [also] go to Tokyo every quarter to expose myself to new techniques and also to keep abreast with new products. Innovation is key,” she adds.

Candy also believes in hard work and determination. She likewise promotes “inotoku” which means “to do something good without expecting anything in return.” In her business, that means exceptional service will be rendered at all times with no additional cost. “We were not spared by the pandemic, of course. I closed some branches, invested in sanitizing machines, [and] re-trained the people to observe safety procedures, etc.”

She goes on to add, “That aside, the learning never stops for us. Recently, Japanese lash trainers came over to teach the latest techniques and styles from Tokyo. The road to success has not been easy but it’s worth it!

Riding the Beauty Express—Candy Hernando imparts this business advice to young women entrepreneurs: “Follow your passion. Set high standards. Do not compare your journey to others.”

Melissa “Mells” Benitez Limcaoco: CEO of Amplifi Technologies Corporation

Mells Limcaoco started her corporate career under Brand Marketing in Unilever, back in 1989. Thereafter, she founded various start-ups like Entertainment Gateway Group in 1995 (which was eventually bought by Globe and is now called Yondu) and Hatchd, an incubator company. Soon after, she briefly joined Tribal DDB as CEO, where she introduced basic digital analytics. After that, she worked for SMART Communications—followed by a stint in ABS-CBN as Digital Transformation Head.

Presently, Mells has partnered with Mitch Curran and started an interaction agency called Amplifi Technologies Corp—a company that specializes in generating demand and brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing and analytics. The platform then tracks and analyzes the efforts of influencers, which helps companies measure their online reputation.

Mells believes that an industry leader must have a purpose. One must know where she is, where she intends to go and how to get there. And to this day, she has found a happy balance between work and her personal life. “I love that my job gives me more time with the family. The pandemic taught us all that family is the most important thing,” she enthuses.

“In business, we were all forced to pivot, or else perish. Luckily, the pivot was towards our space,“ continues Mells, adding that Amplifi plans to continue to innovate in audience-led marketing. For this digital industry leader, the future of communications is one-to-one marketing and, with her partner, she aims to build more platforms to pursue this.

The Power of One—Melissa Limcaoco poses questions to young women. “Twenty years from now, is there a headline about you? What will it be? Work on that headline now.”

Happy International Women’s Month to all the empowered Filipinas!

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