MAP Insights


International Women’s Day is celebrated every March, and this is the second that we are again spending at home. Ironically, one of the (many) events where I had the privilege to speak gave me the opportunity to “come back home.” As a proud SGV alumni partner, I spoke at SGV Consulting’s She Inspires Series entitled, “Claiming Our Seat at the Table.”

I often say this: “I don’t have a sad story to tell.” I’d like to believe that a big part of this was my “great luck” with SGV. Perhaps it was also because SGV had been quite ahead of its time by being merit-based and progressive even back in the 1980s and the ‘90s.

But in the spirit of wanting to extend women’s month to every month of the year, allow me to write about some nuggets of wisdom I shared with the women — and men — of SGV in the said event.

We in business have a knack for making lists, setting metrices and expectations. I made a list of expectations and debunked each one, because not everything can always go as planned whether in business or in our career.

Nonetheless, I offered my own regimen, my own concoction to not just claiming that seat — but to earn it the right and meaningful way and make the most out of it.

Step 1: Self Check. It is important to believe that everyone has a stake and that everyone has a right to that seat at the table — and this includes you. But one must also be cognizant of reality. Check if you have what it takes — both capability and knowledge. Having this conviction is important. The next part of this “self-examination” is being aware of your own shortcomings and determining what you lack and what you need to learn or develop to be able to assert yourself.

Step 2: Self Improvement. This is the part where you get your hands dirty and work to receive appropriate training to build technical and soft skills. It is important to expand your knowledge base beyond your scope of work. It pays to know about economic issues, culture and arts, and others interests outside of work.

Step 3: Seek Mentorship/Sponsorship. Find a mentor who can counsel and give you advice. Remember, this is not an easy feat as your mentor will be the one to help you reach your full potential. When considering your mentor, you have to think of the following: What is the role of the mentor and what are their ideal qualities? In the context of SGV and perhaps in other companies as well, find a sponsor, someone in the organization who will help “shepherd” your career. They should be in a senior position and will drive the protégé’s career vision, will provide you with strategic network connections, and will always advocate for you as they are personally vested in your career prospects and growth.

Step 4: It Takes a Village. In a previous column contribution to MAP, I shared, “Your Network is your Net worth.” I cannot emphasize this more: it is very important to learn the value of investing in and nurturing professional as well as personal relationships as these are good sources of opportunities. Your social capital and your ability to build your network is important. Seek people out and work in collaboration with others who share your interests and values.

Step 5: Use Your Power. You have both the responsibility and opportunity to challenge outdated unconscious biases, traditions, and stereotypes. Getting a seat at the table or the opportunity to be heard should be used for progress. In this case, be bold, but not offensive. Be confident in putting your views forward, but make sure that you have a strong foundation to pursue your point.

Step 6: Go the Extra Mile. Think and step out of the box and perhaps volunteer to work for initiatives which will highlight your strengths. This is the time to also build your personal portfolio and to be visible and to stay relevant.

Step 7: Choose Your Role Model. There is a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing.” This is why it is important to have role models — in both your career and life. You will find that there will never be a shortage of people to look up to and draw inspiration from.

Step 8: Muster Enough Courage. We previously talked about learning more about yourself and recognizing your capabilities and limitations. Even with these in mind, do not be discouraged by failures and challenges. They serve as learning experiences. I often observe that when people (it happens to women most of the time) get asked to take on bigger roles or responsibilities, the knee jerk reaction is, “Why me?” Change this mindset. Instead of asking “why me?,” get ahead of the challenges and say, “Why not me?”

Truth be told, opportunities will not always be “readily available.” More often than not, it helps to assert yourself. In this case, if you’ve tried “every trick in the book,” and this “seat” is still elusive, perhaps it is time to bring your own “folding chair.” But if all goes well and you are given a seat at the table: I urge you to use it, maximize it and do not take it for granted.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.


Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia is member of the MAP Corporate Governance Committee and the MAP Arts & Culture Committee. She is President of MAGEO Consulting, Inc., a company providing corporate finance advisory and consulting services.