Women leaders from Asia are leading the way in the fields of technology and finance as the sectors move towards digitalization, as highlighted in the launch of the first-ever Asia Pacific Agenda of The Women Future Conference, housed under the Digital Pilipinas movement of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications Inc., on August 24, Tuesday. The event featured female executives from the Asia-Pacific region who championed the power of feminine leadership and management in the traditionally male-dominated industries of financial technology, banking, insurance, and e-commerce.
Women leaders are at the forefront of digitalization in the aforementioned industries because of their ability to promote a healthy work-life balance, innovation in partnership with regulatory bodies, the development of up-to-date infrastructure, and inclusivity in their companies.
Amor Maclang, former Stevies Award winner, Convenor of Digital Pilipinas, Executive Director for the FinTech Philippines Association, and Co-Founder of GeiserMaclang Marketing Communications, Inc., moderated the launch alongside the illustrious women leaders in the panel. She said in her opening message, “The reverse diaspora is happening not just in the Philippines, but in Asia. There’s been a brain drain, but now the reverse is happening. We’re seeing the best talents in technology choosing to domicile themselves in Asia.” She added, “We are all striving to work towards a future where we will be at parity in male-dominated fields for our hard work and talent, not for our gender.”
Jael Tan, Manager of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, upheld the importance of partnerships among neighboring Asian countries for true progress in fintech. She shared that “What’s important is making connections on a bilateral basis and then growing it into a bigger collaboration. The road ahead of innovation seems daunting, but we are always thinking big and making small partnerships along the way.”
Yang Yang Zhang, Managing Director of Xendit Philippines, referred to Asia as the hotspot for free-flowing disruption in tech because of the region’s openness to innovation, transparency in regulation, and the prospect of creating products with an impact on society. She stated, “Asia is a place that welcomed innovation and welcomed disruption. In Asia, there’s a spirit of openness; everyone’s moving more quickly, so people are more open. The Philippines is poised for hyper-growth, and the transparency in regulation makes sure that the growth progresses exponentially.”
Wijitleka Marome, Deputy Director of the Fintech Department in the Bank of Thailand, expressed during the hour-long discussion that one of the many strengths of women leaders is the ability to communicate and collaborate while balancing the two sides of innovation and regulation in the fintech space. She said, “Female senior executives can express their capability and competencies to support the innovations. Regulations should not be the burden for innovations, rather the government needs to be there as back-up support with regulations and policy.”
The launch also discussed the challenges women face in the fast-paced environments of tech and innovation. Shan Luo, Managing Director of Fintech Space Taiwan, highlighted the unique ability of women leaders to use their soft skills to manage difficult and highly restrictive situations as they navigate the regulated space of fintech. “We, as women leaders, have passion and patience.”, she noted. She also said that, “The most difficult [thing] is the communication with regulators. It’s very important to have the soft skill in hard discussions. We think that you have to have a very innovative approach to work with the very restrictive regulations.”
Traversing on the route of digital banking is Leila Martin, President of the first government-backed Digital Overseas Filipino Bank. Playing up the advantages women had as leaders of today and the future that are essential for global connectivity and collaboration, she expressed that, “We, Asian women, are highly educated and have a strong work ethic. We also have the tenacity to learn different languages, which is essential if we want to connect globally.”
Gae Martinez, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Insular Life, mentioned the role of Filipino women have as gatekeepers of the financial well-being of their families and the strengths of women leaders that all people, regardless of gender, should realize: “Women professionals are family-focused, have strong foresight, and are self-development-oriented. These are the strengths of financial advisors and female employees that inspire us.”
On leading women-empowered companies, Pebbles Sy, Chief Technology and Operations Officer of GCash, focused on the more favorable conditions of the Philippines in regards to gender equality and the importance of maintaining representation for young women managers and future leaders in need of mentorship and community. She said, “We are in a better position than some of our neighbors in terms of gender equality. Half of our senior leadership in GCash are women and it wasn’t intentional—we just hired the best. There’s really no barrier for us women, it’s just about doing your job and working hard.”
The Asia Pacific Agenda of The Women Future Conference is also a learning opportunity for young women and students as they prepare to become leaders of the future. Kim Lato, Owner and Founder of Kimstore, is an advocate for women and the youth in the local entrepreneur scene. She drew attention to how her unceasing drive to learn sustained her in her 15 years of being a female changemaker in the e-commerce industry, saying, “Learning is fun, and I want to continue to learn from women advocates like us.”
The Women Future Conference APAC Press Launch is a testament to the notable achievements that women leaders are making in the fields of tech and finance in the Asia Pacific region. As advancements are made technologically, these women leaders highlight the importance of maintaining balance and changing the narrative to become more inclusive, especially for the underserved.
The Women Future Conference will be held from November 1 to 5, 2021. For more information on what to expect during the 5-day program and on how to reserve your virtual seat, please visit www.womenfutureconference.com.