By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features and Content Assistant Editor
A Swedish proverb states, “Rough waters are truer tests of leadership. In calm water, every ship has a good captain.”
True enough, in times such as the present where the business landscape shifts like the changing tides, the value of true leadership becomes clear to all. Coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in the world has had to adjust in some way, whether it is working from home or taking classes online.
Such unexpected alterations to our way of life have had an impact on our principles and values. There has never been a more important time to consider what it means to be a leader and an aid to others than now.
This is the driving purpose of the Asia CEO Awards, held last Oct. 24 at the Manila Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City. Each of the 15 categories in the awards ceremony hails notable organizations and leaders that have made important contributions to their industries and the country’s development. These organizations and leaders are selected to be part of Asia CEO’s distinguished Circle of Excellence in their respective categories. One of these Circle of Excellence awardees was hailed as the grand winner during the awarding ceremony.
The categories cover a wide range of categories and spans many different industries, recognizing the best companies in terms of innovation, sustainability, service excellence, corporate social responsibility, employment, and many more.
The Asia CEO Awards attempts to give answers to questions that are certain on every business leaders’ mind: In the wake of hurdles like the pandemic, the emergence of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, and socioeconomic challenges, what does it take to lead effectively in the new world? What qualities are necessary to thrive in the face of such daunting global and social challenges as climate change, the annihilation of our natural environment, and pervasive inequality?
When asked these questions, Asia CEO Awards Woman Leader of the Year Haidee Enriquez, the chief executive of business process outsourcing companies MicroSourcing and Beepo, responded with her own guideline for leadership: the acronym D.A.R.E.
“D stands for Dream. A stands for Act. R stands for Renew or Reinvent, and then E stands for Enjoy,” she said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
In the face of difficult challenges, Ms. Enriquez pointed out that a leader, first and foremost, should be the person in charge of creating a vision for a company to rally towards.
“The second one is act. Of course, we can dream all we want. But if we’re not willing to put in the action that’s necessary to be closer and closer to the realization of that dream then it’s just pointless, right?” she said, adding that it is essential for leaders to be the central role models for such actions to take place.
“Team members who have worked with me, including those who are in MicroSourcing, would often describe me as mangbubudol,” she shared with a laugh.
“According to them, I have a unique ability to make people do things that otherwise they would not have done or would not have even thought possible. I’d like to believe that it probably had something to do with the fact that they see me do it first. That they know and they see that I would not ask them to do something that I myself would not do. And because of that, it either inspires them or forces them to at least try.”
Ms. Enriquez admitted that she would not have gotten as far as she has in her field if not for her tenacity in reinventing and renewing her principles with regards to her work. She shared that she constantly had to ask more experienced members of the management team questions about how things were done in order for her to understand the landscape she was operating in.
Under her leadership, MicroSourcing and Beepo’s expansion pivoted to regions outside of Metro Manila, and have grown from 3,500 professionals to more than 8,000 in almost three years. More than half, or about 54% of them are now located in provincial locations. In addition, the companies’ Balik Eskwela program has benefitted more than 7,400 learners from far-flung public elementary schools across the country since their launch.
As one of 15 award categories, the Woman Leader of the Year prize recognizes the successful careers of Filipino women who have contributed to the country’s economy and social status. Ms. Enriquez, as one of the awardees, also paid tribute to other women leaders.
“While it is a great recognition, at the end of the day, what is more important is not what the public thinks of me. What is more important to me is what the people who really work with me on a day-to-day basis, what they think of me and what I think of myself in relation to the standards that I have set for myself,” she said.
For women and any individuals looking to follow in her footsteps, Ms. Enriquez also had some advice.
“I wouldn’t exactly want to inspire everyone or every woman out there to follow in my footsteps because I am a product of the unique circumstances of my life. But what I would like to dare them to do is to define success in their own terms, and to be the best version they could ever be of themselves.”
Ms. Enriquez said that one of the biggest fallacies and myths women believe is that they can only be successful if they have a great career, or if they are a C-level executive, or if they are earning a certain amount of money. While that may be true for some people, that is not necessarily true for all.
“A mother who has raised very successful children, while being a housewife all her life, I think, is a very successful woman in her own right and a very successful leader in her own right. Every individual I would dare, especially women, to really think through and discern: How do I define success in my case? Define what success looks like for you, and aim for that. Work for that. Dare to be that.”