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The women of NOWCD: Inspiring future female leaders at Women’s Month celebrations

Guest speaker Marianna Zobel, senior vice-president of BPI and a member of NOWCD (center), with Lucien Dy Tioco, Philstar Media Group EVP (right) and Camille Santiago, PhilSTAR L!fe head editor (left)

March is dedicated to celebrating International Women’s Month and an opportune time to commemorate women’s achievements. It’s also a chance to reflect on what more can be done towards gender equality and empowerment for future generations. In line with this, the Philippine Star and Adobo Magazine each held their own affairs – She Slays and Women Arise, respectively. Both events put the spotlight on powerful and successful females from different industries and create a space for women to share their experiences. Featured in these initiatives as keynote speakers were Marianna Zobel, Margot Torres, and Maricelle Narciso, three distinguished members of the NextGen Organization of Women Directors (NOWCD).

NOWCD is the Philippines’ leading organization of women corporate directors who are dedicated advocates and catalysts for robust governance and inclusive stewardship of corporate and foundation boards. Their goal is to increase women representation in boards of companies and non-profit organizations from the current 17% to 23% in 2025. Internationally affiliated, NOWCD equips its members with the right governance training and education, networking visibility, and relevant opportunities to succeed.

Marianna Zobel, Senior Vice President of BPI and a member of NOWCD, gave an insightful talk at the Philippine Star’s She Slays event held last March 28, 2023, at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura. She imparted the learnings on her journey towards becoming a successful leader: the importance of seeking purpose over passion, of continuously striving to learn, and empathy as a top skill that leaders should have. She also talked about the value of constructive criticism in growth and how accountability leads to efficiency and success. Zobel shared that having a proper mindset was crucial for all aspiring female leaders on their journey, “For us women, it can sometimes take the littlest voice in our heads to plant seeds of doubt and shake our confidence. And in those moments, I suggest that you should remember that you’re all here for a reason and that you take up space wherever you go.”

At the adobo Magazine’s Women Arise event held last March 28, 2023 at Shangri-La The Fort, NOWCD members Margot Torres and Maricelle Narciso, both trailblazers and veterans in their industry, shared their career journeys and valuable advice for women leaders.

NOWCD Member and McDonald’s Managing Director Margot Torres recounted her journey in finding purpose.

Award-winning McDonald’s Managing Director Margot Torres recounted her journey in finding purpose. Torres used Ikigai, ‘Iki’ meaning ‘life’ and ‘gai’ referring to worth as a framework that helps derive one’s motivation and reason for being. The Japanese concept marries a person’s passion, profession, mission, skills, and values with what the world needs in order to find one’s Ikigai or purpose.

Torres shared that she is passionate about creating change through boldness and innovation. On her career journey, she discovered her mission of showcasing young talent through excellent work while she creatively transforms the industry as the managing director for one of the most popular fast food restaurants. At the heart of this is her vocation as a mother; to care and love for her family as she grows and succeeds as a professional. In her continuous journey of finding her Ikigai,  Torres continues to put forth her advocacy of making sure that the voices of upcoming female leaders are heard and acknowledged through her work for NOWCD, “We want to increase the representation of women in boards.”

NOWCD Trustee Member and PepsiCo, Inc. Philippines’ first Filipina Country General Manager Maricelle Narciso shared her inspiring career story.

Trustee member of NOWCD and PepsiCo Inc. Philippines’s first Filipina Country General Manager Maricelle Narciso shared her inspiring career story of learning her marketing skills from two marketing universities:  Unilever and PepsiCo.  She emphasized the importance of mentoring, and how that significantly contributed to opening doors for her career.  She retired in 2019 after a successful career and now serves as the co-chair of Strategic Communications for the Philippine Navy Board of Advisers. Narciso believes women in leadership positions should sponsor other women, “If you are a woman in a position of power, it’s really important to create opportunities for junior colleagues to break the glass ceiling.” She also emphasizes that everyone should help make the world a better place than how they found it.

The inspiring women of NOWCD are paving the way for strong female leaders by equipping them with the tools and lessons they need to succeed. Through their uplifting speeches during the Women’s Month celebrations and continuous efforts with NOWCD, they are helping to raise a generation of women that support each other and are catalysts for change and progress.

For inquiries and more information please visit the NOWCD website at

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