The ongoing “I Am Woman” Womenar Learning Series by WomenBizPhil is supported by WeEmpowerAsia, a UN Women program funded by and in partnership with the European Union, Philippine Commission on Women, and the Dept of Trade and Industry. In the “I am Woman, I am a Strategist” Womenar, the guest speaker was Penny Bongato, well known author of inspiring books. Chapter lead was Evelyn Singson, vice chair of Dusit Thani Philippines, with Legato Health Technologies Country Head Nora Terrado, Ida Tiongson, Opal Portfolio Investments president, and myself as panelists.

Evelyn moderated the session and said CEOs around the world have a consistent advice to aspirants for top positions in their organizations. She then summarized the insights and learnings in the “Ten Commandments of Personal Strategies for Women Aspiring for Leadership”:

1. Choose a career you enjoy doing. Do you prefer to meet people, to network, to be out in the field, or to sit behind the desk, analyze and solve problems, or work with gadgets and create things with your hands? If you know what you want early in life, good. If not, eliminate what you don’t want to do. “Success is more likely if you enjoy what you’re doing.”

2. Your job should mean something purposeful to you — a vehicle to achieve your life’s purpose and make the difference you want in your world. Earning good money is not the goal of work — it is the reward for a job well done. But self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction in what you do makes every day worth living — doing good, doing right in the service of others.

3. Work in a company you believe in, whose mission, purpose and core values are aligned with yours. It is important that you respect and trust the people you report to, and people you lead must trust and respect you, too. When certain practices of your leaders cause you discomfort or bother your conscience or are outrightly unethical, it’s time to move on.

4. Speak up. You have a voice; let it be heard. Your ideas remain in your head unless communicated. Don’t get timid in the company of men because unless heard and listened to, you are not present in the room. Speak with conviction and stand your ground, especially if you’re in the right or you see things can be better.

5. Build a strong team and pick the right people for the job. Do not make the mistake of hiring people who are your “clones”. Building a competent team with diverse backgrounds and experiences create a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

6. A confident leader gives credit where credit is due. Some bosses want to claim credit for work well done without attribution to those who contributed to the work. This kills motivation and is the fastest way to lose good people. When the people below push you up, you must remember to bring them up with you.

7. Be a perpetual student. Never stop learning. Today, anything is accessible with a click of the keyboard. Technology and the pandemic have disrupted business and ways of work. Unlearn old ways and reinvent yourself to adopt to changes and new challenges.

8. Network purposely. Networking expands your sphere of influence, develops strong alliances, connects and interconnects with people. Leadership in organization likewise builds public image, boosts stature in the community and opens many doors. (ex WomenBizPhils, Filipina CEO Circle, FINEX, MAP)

9. Be clear about priorities. A woman has a family to take care of, a household to run and a demanding job that requires time and attention. But all the top CEOs are unanimous that family is top priority.

10. Last, but not least, if you are to marry, find a supportive and independent man. The worst thing for an aspiring and ambitious woman is to marry a controlling, insecure and entitled man. The formula for a happy life and successful career is to marry the right man.

I’d like to add No. 11, which is to: Have a grateful heart, even during or despite this pandemic, especially to the One Above, our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of everything and the answer to all our needs.

The Womenar series will be available in ebook format by Sept. 16. Congratulations to WomenBizPhils headed by President Mylene Abiva and Chairwoman Monette Hamlin for this epic production!

(The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)


Ms. Flor Tarriela was the first chairwoman of the Philippine National Bank. She was the first and only independent director chairwoman in the commercial banking industry. She is a former Undersecretary of Finance and the first Filipina vice-president of Citibank N.A.  She is a trustee of FINEX and an Institute of Corporate Directors fellow. A gardener and an environmentalist, she established Flor’s Garden in Antipolo, an ATI Accredited National Extension Service Provider and a DOT Accredited Agri Tourism Site.