Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Women empowering women: Home Credit PH’s female executives on fostering diversity, empowering the next generation of leaders in the consumer finance sector


(From L-R) Susana Ong, HCPH’s Chief Information Officer; Alpha Omega Aquino, HCPH’s Chief People Officer; Jana Pechouckova, Chief Administrative and Finance Officer; Sheila Paul, Chief Marketing Officer; Alicia Salita, Chief Legal Officer

Get to know the trailblazing women who are transforming the workplace by shattering stereotypes and promoting gender equality. 

Home Credit Philippines (HCPH), one of the leaders and innovators in the Philippine consumer finance sector, understands how critical it is to advance workplace equity and close the gender gap in order to provide access to financial services in the nation. Its dedication to being the financial partner of the Filipino people goes beyond simply assisting them in living the lives they deserve. It also involves actively promoting gender equality, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and the creation of an environment in which everyone can prosper—especially women.

This emphasis on DE&I is demonstrated by the company's workforce, which comprises over 15,000 employees and has a varied leadership with five out of 12 female executives. The workforce boasts a gender-balanced ratio of 51:49.

Women leaders at HCPH are bringing about good change and redefining the future of leadership in the consumer finance industry as the organization persists in advocating for gender parity in the workplace. They act as mentors and role models for future leaders by shattering the barriers associated with traditional gender roles.

Let us honor the five outstanding women leaders of HCPH who are actively forming the future generation of leaders in honor of National Women's Month.

Alicia Salita: Perseverance brings rewards

Alicia Salita is a seasoned attorney who leads the legal department of HCPH. Her journey into the world of law began in the University of the Philippines and was marked with distinction as she took up her juris doctor degree while simultaneously teaching in the same university’s psychology department. 

Before becoming a part of the company, Alicia—or as she is fondly called by everyone in the office, Atty. Alice—was the head of legal of a multinational bank for over 20 years, and a legal counsel in one of the largest banks in the country. 

While she has achieved significant milestones in her career, Atty. Alice expressed that her path to leadership as a woman was challenging. 

“Being a woman in a male-dominated field meant dealing with microaggressions and prejudices against ‘strong and opinionated’ females, even during my time in law school. However, facing the aggressive teaching styles of male professors strengthened my sense of self and confidence, empowering me to advocate for women and those without privilege,” Salita mentioned.

With her experience, she emphasized the importance of workplace diversity where women and individuals from different backgrounds are provided with opportunities to excel, especially in leadership roles. 

“Diversity ensures a range of perspectives—fostering creativity and innovative thinking. Different viewpoints, coupled with respectful exchanges of ideas, bring change, and enable the company to respond quickly to the evolving demands and needs of the society to drive improvement and development,” she added.

As a woman leader, Atty. Alice now embraces the mentor role for aspiring individuals. In the journey towards leadership, she believes in the ‘never say die’ attitude. 

“Keep on fighting for your place. Aside from that, you must possess a passion for learning and strive for excellence in your work. This dedication brings rewards. Remember, excelling in a role should first be for oneself and the betterment of society,” she concluded.

Alpha Omega Aquino: Believing in oneself, embracing challenges empower growth

Alpha Aquino is the woman in charge of leading the people department of HCPH. With nearly eight years of experience as a leader, she spent the first four years in her previous company and the other half at HCPH. Aquino described her journey as a tough yet transformative one as she was the first non-local, non-Muslim, and female leader in a male-dominated industry in her past role. 

As a woman leader, Alpha has faced stereotypes head-on. She challenged the status quo through a leadership style anchored on being an example, and the fostering of an inclusive environment that address the lack of female representation by mentoring—inspiring more women to reach leadership positions. To overcome unequal opportunities, Aquino sought mentorship, networked, and bravely challenged the existing dynamics.

Her determination to keep going was inspired by strong women figures who mentored her, including her mom. 

“My mother was my first mentor. Despite facing the challenges of raising five children at a young age, she persevered and ensured that we had a good and happy life. I am also fortunate to have had encounter incredible women leaders in my career who embodied courage, grit, and a passion for leading by example,” she explained.

Drawing from the courage generated by important women in her life, Alpha continuously champions how women bring valuable perspectives to leadership, particularly in consumer finance. With this perspective, she now strongly advocates for mentoring the next generation, especially women, viewing it as a privilege to guide and empower potential leaders to create a more diverse and resilient workforce. 

“When encountering doubt, look for ways to continue believing in yourself and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Make sure to seek mentors to learn from others’ experiences and persist through uncertainty,” she conveyed as advice to the younger generation.

Susan Ong: Continuous learning enables development

Susan Ong has been a woman leader for over a decade now, and currently holds the position of chief information officer at HCPH. As a woman thriving in a usually male-dominated industry, Susan faced numerous instances early in her career where she found herself as the only woman in the room. This situation initially led her to just do her best in her current role rather than to aspire to become a woman leader.

However, she was fortunate to have both male and female mentors and managers who provided guidance and encouragement, enabling her to take on greater responsibilities and become a confident leader. Now, in her leadership role, she feels a responsibility to pay it forward by nurturing the next generation.

As she mentors those under her, she emphasized the importance of focusing on individual development rather than just getting things done. She believes that the passing on of women leadership is crucial because aside from moral grounds, this makes good business sense as majority of HCPH’s customers or key decision makers are female. In addition, it avoids “groupthink” which may cloud issues and/or hinders innovation and breakthrough.  

“While achieving goals is crucial, fostering leadership growth is equally important. At Home Credit, where active succession planning is prioritized, we consider various factors. Alongside performance requirements, I also assess an individual's personal drive, emotional maturity, and learning agility to gauge their potential.

Continuous learning, especially in IT, is a crucial skill for the success of aspiring leaders in the tech space. Aside from meeting and exceeding expectations, it is essential to remain committed to learning because what one knows today may become obsolete tomorrow,” she concluded.

Sheila Paul: Going beyond your comfort zone creates opportunities

Sheila runs the marketing and communication department of HCPH, holding the role for almost four years now. She didn’t consciously aspire to lead but found herself in leadership roles early in her career, kickstarting it with a trainee role in the accounts management department, then eventually moving up to the account supervisor role in four years. This feat made her become one of the youngest people in that level, and opened opportunities for her to take on higher roles. 

According to Sheila, the challenges of being a young leader included not being perceived as mature enough and lacking sufficient experience. 

“As a woman, one may face perceptions of having less stamina compared to their male counterparts. Young leaders can overcome these challenges by demonstrating through action that they are capable of achieving successful results, earning recognition for their leadership,” Sheila said.

Sheila attributes her success to the guidance and mentorship she received from influential female leaders throughout her career, each imparting invaluable lessons on empathy, resilience, and the art of balancing personal and professional life. With this experience, she recognized the pivotal role of women in leadership, especially in the consumer finance industry, bringing unique perspectives and empathy to the table.

As a mentor, Paul actively supports and guides her team members in their professional development, fostering a culture of learning and growth within the organization. 

“When given opportunities, give it a try and lead by example. If there is no attempt, then there will also be no discovery of one’s capabilities. Some lessons can only be learned by going outside your comfort zone and taking action,” she noted. 

Jana Pechouckova: Determination, confidence in abilities overcome challenges

Jana Pechouckova leads both the administrative and finance departments of HCPH for nearly six years today, bringing with her two decades of experience as a woman leader. From being a bank’s internal auditor to becoming the head of internal audit in a span of three years, Jana eventually then becomes a part of the executive committee at the age of 28. 

While she started to hold a leadership position early in her career, her journey encountered a major challenge when she decided to prioritize starting a family and became pregnant. Though she wanted to remain at work for as long as possible and returned very early, she still encountered unpleasant experiences and unwanted comments from her very senior-level managers.

“Through it all, one thing that has always kept me going is my confidence in my abilities. It strengthens me and enables me to overcome challenges. 

Also, as women, we are usually known for being more empathetic and collaborative, prioritizing teamwork, and collective success over individual achievements. These qualities help us approach decision-making with caution, making us avoid unnecessary risks and consider the ethical implications of our actions,” she said.

Throughout her journey, Pechouckova found inspiration and guidance from her mentor, the CEO, who first welcomed her into his team two decades ago. She shared that his honesty, encouragement, and belief in her abilities shaped her into the leader she is today, despite being the youngest and least experienced at that time, as well as a woman.

“I see many talented women leaders and potential leaders around me, but they don't always have confidence in themselves, or they may not be as eager as men to express their desire to lead and grow within the organization. They are usually a bit more reserved about proclaiming their skills or asserting that they are as good as, if not better than, other candidates. 

We, women, don't typically announce, 'We are great;’ instead, we tend to demonstrate our capabilities through our work. I haven't been an exception. Rather, I was fortunate that people around me recognized that giving me a chance would result in great outcomes, benefiting both themselves and others,” she added.

Jana believes that Home Credit is in very good shape regarding women in leadership roles. However, she wishes that more of them will be more visible, more proactive and involved, louder, and more opinionated. For Jana, women need to assert their views and make their voices heard over their male colleagues.

As HCPH continues to champion DE&I, these five inspiring leaders are paving the way for a future where women can thrive in all areas of the consumer finance sector, inspiring the next generation to break boundaries and reach their full potential.

To know more about the latest updates from Home Credit Philippines, visit its official website, www.homecredit.ph. You may also follow its official Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts. Customers are also encouraged to download the My Home Credit App on Google Play to learn more about the latest promos and see what’s new in the Marketplace. 

Home Credit Philippines is a financing company duly licensed and supervised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). 

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