Time and again, modern Filipinas have proven just how much they could accomplish in their own field: whether they are founding game-changing beauty ventures, holding high-level leadership roles in public office, or using entrepreneurship as a platform for innovation, achievements abound for the fairer gender of our country.
That is why, in celebration of Women’s Month, we would like to share extraordinary stories of three modern Filipina business leaders. They are the women who continue to make strides in digital transformation here and around the globe.
Anne Aaron (Netflix)
As the Director of Video Algorithms at Netflix, Anne Aaron leads a team of engineers whose ultimate goal is to improve the “streaming quality and reduce bandwidth usage” for a typical Netflix user. So, no matter what the customer’s bandwidth or device is, the content quality should still be as seamless and smooth as possible.
Not one to shy away from responsibility, the Ateneo de Manila University graduate has certainly bloomed in her leadership role at the $4 billion company. Armed with a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford, her research has pioneered the subfield of distributed video coding. Not only is Aaron widely cited as an authority on the matter, she has also filed an official patent for the techniques she and her team have uncovered, travels around the world as Netflix’s representative to work with companies on video and image coding technology, and has been dubbed as one of the most powerful female engineers of 2017.
As she leads and builds a team of software engineers and research scientists, the Filipina business leader executes strategic decision-making on software architecture and research—all the while ensuring that communication consistently flows across different teams in the organization.
And as she does so, she makes sure that she functions as a strong parental figure to employees who are new at Netflix and is proud of the diversified culture, which the company espouses. After all, she herself is a product of the allies in her team advocating on behalf of her and her work.
Clearly, Aaron has balanced both being an innovator in her field and being a strong, dependable leader in today’s workplace as she pays it forward.
Josie Trinidad (Disney)
As the Head of Story for Disney animation, Josie Trinidad certainly has the dream job of many kids and adults alike.
From working on projects such as Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph, the Filipina-American has certainly found her niche within animated entertainment. As she translates scripts into visual media, animators are able to utilize her and her team’s artistic renderings for the final productions you see on the screen.
While it is a dream come true for the Filipina business leader, she does have her fair share of challenges at work. As she shared in her interview with Rappler:
“Because there are endless possibilities, it’s really hard to focus and to know if you’re making the right choices… but ultimately, because we always go back to universal truths in making universal entertainment, if it makes us laugh and feel, then chances are the audience will respond as well.”
Apart from storytelling being her great strength, the 15-year Disney veteran also knows a thing or two about connecting with others. Not only did she get a college teacher’s help to land and improve upon her coveted role at the start, but she is also now a mentor herself for Women in Animation, covering topics such as career transitions and leadership training.
Dr. Astrid Tuminez (Microsoft)
Microsoft Regional Director for Corporate, External and Legal Affairs for Southeast Asia and recently appointed President of the Utah Valley University, Dr. Astrid Tuminez is a master of resilience in the face of adversity.
Born in a remote village in Iloilo, Tuminez was the sixth in a family of seven children. When her mother decided to move them to a densely populated slum, they lived in a hut with no electricity or running water.
To get access to free education, she was only invited by Catholic nuns from the Daughters of Charity to attend school. When she arrived at school on her first day, she was unable to read and write and had to sit at the back of the class. As she recounted in her Microsoft interview:
“In my school, the smartest child was put in the first seat, first row. The dumbest child was in the last seat, last row, and I was actually in the last seat, last row. But after a few months, I’m happy to report that I ended up sitting right in front.”
This mindset of growth would soon permeate all aspects of her being—from getting a full scholarship to UP Diliman, pivoting to her dream of studying in the States to earning her Master’s from Harvard and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this Filipina business leader is clearly grit personified.
This adds up to her long and colorful career where she worked and led teams in Russia during the ‘80s, served as Vice-Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, consulted in the U.S. Institute of Peace, appointed as Director of Research at AIG Global Investment, and so much more.
In her current role in Microsoft Southeast Asia, she drives inclusive growth in partnership with governments through consulting on trends that would shape regulations and public policies. She is a staunch advocate of inclusive growth through digital inclusion. Whether she’s suggesting actionable steps on bridging the wage gap, closing the gender divide, or providing education for all, she is clearly a well-informed thought leader on shaping a better future through technology. After all, she is a product of this inclusive growth herself.
Celebrating Women’s Month
As these brave Filipinas have exemplified, women mean business regardless of what field they are in. Whether they are being influential leaders at home, inspirational enterprise moguls, or impact-makers in male-dominated cultures, women are and have always been a force to be reckoned with.
To all the trailblazing women who continue to shape the future of families, businesses, and generations to come, Happy Women’s Month!
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