Wednesday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, with the theme this year ‘Be Bold for Change’.

To highlight the importance of equality and celebrate the diversity we have in hipages, we have decided to dedicate the week to understanding more about gender equality issues and showcasing some of the wonderful and bold women we have in the team.  Whilst we do have gender equality overall as a company (48% women, 52% male) which is something we are proud of and is rare in the technology industry, women are still underrepresented in some of our teams, in management roles and on our Board – so we have work to do.

One of the ways we improve our understanding of issues and help pave the way for others is to share stories of successful women and their experience.  We will post the stories of a few of the many wonderful bold women in hipages each day this week.

Please meet Ghie De Jesusghie-hs

As hipages’ first Manila team leader, Ghie De Jesus is now our Manila Operations Manager overseeing our team of 150 in Manila.  Ghie says that a vital part of her achieving success has been learning from others, letting go of fear and simply not waiting to act.  Ghie believes that as a manager she has a responsibility to nurture her team so they develop and enjoy what they do, taking ‘leading by example’ very seriously.

One of the boldest things Ghie has done in her life is transitioning gender.  Despite facing discrimination and harassment because of this, Ghie pushed herself to take risks and slowly began to build her confidence.  Ghie believes she found strength during this time in seeing other transwomen succeed and that their boldness has helped to start to change attitudes towards transgender people and is assisting in societal acceptance.

Ghie leaves us with some advice for other women in their lives and careers : “Understand (Risk), Accept (You might fail once in a while –  you are not perfect) , Decide (don’t hesitate ), Act ( nothing will happen if you don’t) and do this without fear. But really, just jump when you need to jump – Good Luck ! “

Here is what Nathan Platus, Ghie’s manager has to say:

“Ghie is a remarkable woman.  From first meeting Ghie 2 years ago when she joined as our first Team Leader, she has grown tremendously and has been instrumental to our growth. Ghie knows no barriers, she is determined, dedicated and is an inspiration to those who believe they can’t. She emcompasses all the traits of a great leader and I look forward to working with her for many years to come”.

Read the full interview here:

How did you get to where you are today in your career?

I’ve been lucky to learn from successful people. I look at how they did it and often find different ways to the same end point. I’ve noticed that they are not afraid of changes, they embrace them. They are bold, confident and brave. I’ve applied these lessons to my own life, and share it with those I coach.

How has being ‘bold’ made a difference to your life and career?

I define success as achieving what matters most to me. Being bold has helped me to let go of the fear that was holding me back from doing things I love and want.

Tell us what you do and why you bring your passion to hipages?

My work as an Operations Manager involves overseeing our day-to-day activities in our Manila operations. I ensure that our team is running as well as it possibly can, with a smooth efficient service that meets or exceeds expectations.

I bring my passion to work because I know that my position enables me to influence people and encourage them to do well. I create opportunities to spend time with my peers and team even in less formal settings such as over breaks. I see to it that in every conversation I make them feel a sense of pride in and passion for what they do. I believe this what energizes our team to greatness because good enough is never good enough because passion does not allow it.

Are you are comfortable to achieve want you want to at hipages?

I am comfortable that I can achieve what I want here in hipages because I enjoy what I am doing, our culture is different in all aspects. I believe that people who love what they do are the most triumphant and happy.

Do you think hipages has an environment that enables you to be bold for change?

YES. It’s critical to take bold action toward your vision, in order to create success- and hipages does that. Our DNA is to ‘make it happen’. We don’t wait, we act. This is our culture, this is who we are. hipages encourages its team to be bold and make things happen. I feel empowered to do things here and that helps me to understand my strengths and weaknesses, to show leadership and be bold for change.

Throughout your career how have you been bold for change?

Not before hipages, no. I haven’t been as bold as I am now, because I was scared of rejection, committing mistakes and uncertainties. I let people lead the way for me, until I started to realise that this was hindering me from growing and impacting people around me.

Then I started to take risks and learn from my mistakes when things didn’t turn out well. I became more confident in what I do and focused on improving myself and learned to embrace change.

Now I make bold decisions and initiate change where needed. My goal is to innovate ideas, question and challenge things and think of ways to make things better.

Do you have any words of wisdom/advice to others who may have been stopped in their tracks in being ‘be bold for change’?

There is a saying that if you want something new and great to happen, you need to do something that you haven’t done before. Don’t be afraid to take a risk, instead take time to understand, strategise and then act on your decisions, ready to accept consequences if it doesn’t work out. Don’t hesitate, because hesitation is a risk of missing an opportunity.  So my advice is Understand (Risk), Accept (You might fail once in a while –  you are not perfect) , Decide (don’t hesitate ), Act ( nothing will happen if you don’t) and do this without fear. but really, just jump when you need to jump – Good Luck !

Also I want to share one of my fave quotes: “Once you take fear out of the equation, the what if’s and maybes disappear and you go forth boldly from a place of love and courage.”

You have done one of the boldest things anyone can do, becoming a woman, how has this impacted your life and being bold for change?

It was not easy. I’ve faced a lot of challenges during my transition. I was in a troubled place where I didn’t know where I would fit in and where I was heading. It impacted my life a lot, It came to a point that it was hard for me to accept myself. I used to be really embarrassed of looking like a guy when my heart disagreed. It impacted my self esteem, decision making and acceptance of myself.

During that time I realised that being myself didn’t make me any less of a man, or any less of a person. Transitioning is a part of life, regardless if you are transitioning from man to woman or a career change (or anything that would require you to be bold). I took it as an opportunity to reclaim my life, re-invent, nurture the person who I really am, and live the life I really want.

Since you became a woman have people viewed your opinion/leadership differently?

Not everyone can understand. When I was starting the transition most people would not take me seriously, I experienced discrimination, was shamed and harassed several times. I was insecure at first and people do not respect a leader who’s insecure and continuously doubts their capabilities. While some think respect has to be earned, I believe that there is a certain amount of respect that comes along with any title or position, it is up to the person if they gain more or lose some. At work, being respected means being heard and looked up to as a credible professional but you have to show them that you deserve it. I worked hard to produce quality work, treated everyone the same way I want to be treated, always do the right thing and do right by people –  these things gained me more respect. Now, people listen when I talk, seek advice, invite me to their parties and follow me when I lead.

Has being a woman and becoming an Operations Manager been difficult?

In this industry in the Philippines we have many transwomen leaders, I would say it is now less difficult than it was before. The world has come a long way in accepting diversity and promoting equality. I am fortunate that there were transwomen leaders before me who showed the world that we too can be brave and bold individuals who can lead  an organisation. I would say the challenges I am having would be the same challenges any Operations Manager experience on a daily basis regardless of gender or race 🙂

Find out more about International Women’s Day here – #BeBoldForChange #IWD2017