Can you give an example of support or inspiration you’ve experienced in your career?
A former colleague of mine shared how I could shape my career around the concept of “learn, earn, and return”. That is, start your career by building experience; seek a variety of opportunities to learn everything that you can, from whom you can. This would help determine what you like and don’t like in terms of profession or leadership styles, but also gives you solid foundations on which to build the rest of your working life. Next, you should be recognized for your abilities and experiences with the proper remuneration. Don’t sell yourself short; know what you and your experience are worth. But it doesn’t end with promotions and raises, you also need to then ‘return’ by helping others, whether it be those who are just starting on their careers, or those who already have established roles. You shouldn’t only think about your own career, but also about others that you can assist and mentor along the way.
What biases have you experienced in your career and how have you overcome them?
Biases come in various forms. The majority of the biases that I experience has to do with my ethnicity. I was born in the Philippines, which is known to be an exporter of nurses, caregivers, and domestic helpers (mind you, these professions are all valuable and respectable, especially now with the pandemic). This reality has resulted in a stereo-type about Filipinas as only being from those professions, which manifests in prolonged questioning at immigration (“can you show credible proof of where you are actually working?”) or comments such as “Oh, you have the same nationality as the woman who cleans our toilets. Do you know her?”. It could also be in the form of being asked to take notes or make coffee or tea. There are preconceived notions around the work that I do, and what my capabilities are. I see these biases as challenges to overcome. I will not be defensive, or act like I have a chip on my shoulder. Instead, I try to take the high ground, and demonstrate what I am capable of, in order to change their perceptions about me, or hopefully, even about female working professionals and Filipinas in general.
What’s something you’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic you would have never expected and what advice would you share with other women?
I have been fortunate enough to have a good support system from both professional and personal perspectives. The LEGO Group has done a fantastic job in taking care of its employees around the world by providing assistance and flexibility in working hours. And my family has also been good with the whole set-up of work-from-home and remote learning. Notwithstanding that, the blurring of lines between work and life and the sense of isolation have admittedly affected my well-being. Self-care, which I had previously - and foolishly - deemed unimportant – became a priority for me. This included carving out some “me-time” in the form of mindless binge-watching of light-hearted Korean dramas and investing in a Peloton, allowing me to step away from pressing responsibilities even for a few moments. I found that those helped me tremendously. Self-care is not about being selfish. It’s about taking care of yourself to ensure you can take are of others. The expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is truer than ever for women in the face of the pandemic, when a majority of the females in the workforce also have to take on the additional responsibilities of childcare and home-schooling on top of their jobs.
What advice would you give to this generation of girls about how to achieve their goals?
Dream big, and don’t let anything or anyone get in your way”. Never let anyone pigeon-hole you into a specific way of thinking. Don’t let fear or biases get in the way of your aspirations.
A diverse and inclusive LEGO GroupIt is our ambition to build a truly diverse and inclusive organization that helps us reach and inspire all children, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
An empowering partnershipRead about the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) set by UN Women to guide us on our journey of equality and inclusivity.