Here is a story that should inspire readers of all ages, perfect for an Easter story of hope and grace.
Judee Quiazon was born in the slums, where she grew up. Amid the squalor of her little neighborhood, she didn’t dare dream big.
“I wanted to be a teacher. Or a social worker, perhaps,,” she says, adding that business was the farthest from her mind. “When I was young, I had simple dreams. Given the chance to finish school, I wanted to either be a teacher or a social worker. I also hoped to become a doctor in my heart, but I realized it was a far-fetched, impossible dream, given the situation we were in.”
Judee was a diligent student and her drive was to give her family a better life. Her struggles notwithstanding, she did not forget her primary dream.
“While studying, I thought a lot about about my family’s needs. Although I could apply for a scholarship, the years it would take to finish my course in med school would entail too much effort and I already wanted to be able to provide for the family’s many needs,” she recalls, citing that she opted for the more practical approach, deciding to take up Computer Science, where, at the time, lay lots of opportunities. “After graduating from high school, I joined my friends in applying for a scholarship through the SM Foundation. I was fortunate to be accepted.”
Judee will be forever grateful to the late Tatang Henry Sy Sr. and Nilda Bernaldez, then the project director. Her journey into the world of IT for 16 years exposed her to various multicultural environments with multinational companies.
“In those times, I enjoyed mentoring and coaching younger software engineers," she recounts. "Wanting to further develop my leadership skills, I joined the John Maxwell Team (JMT) in May 2012 in Orlando, Florida. A year later, in 2013, I was given full certification.”
JMT’S faculty members encouraged Judee to be part of a BNI business community. Despite several attempts at starting her own small business, she managed to keep her corporate job.
Businesswoman Judee Quiazon
Amid the struggles of being an entrepreneur juggling a small business on the side while holding an office job, she took a leap of faith.
“I made a decision to focus solely on my business," she intimates. "I searched for a local BNI to seek guidance and support. Unfortunately, it was not yet established in the Philippines.”
Judee recounted how the seemingly impossible happened. “Two years after returning to Manila from the US, my now business partner Jarmo Kihlstrom who also joined The John Maxwell Team, decided to move to the Philippines—for good,” she says.
Kihlstrom reached out to Judee through their local JMT community where Judee was in charge of arranging JMT meetups. A BNI member in Qatar, he bared the good news that BNI is launching in the Philippines. In no time, Judee activated her membership and relaunched her chapter. Judee recalls the local BNI operations as a fledgling organization that needed to improve its operational structure. Unfazed, Judee remained enthusiastically committed to become part of the solution.
“We were all learning the ropes," she says. "Even if I had yet to witness a BNI meeting in action at that time, I still joined. I watched videos, researched so I could learn all that I could about BNI.” She was so fired up and dreamed of having a model region and showcase local chapters to inspire future chapters.
Judee has been with BNI for six years, active in attending every conference and event. BNI Taguig is now five years in existence. The organization has, since generating 4.5 billion worth of successfully closed business deals among its nearly 400 referral partners represented by different industries in the eight chapters.
“Our business leaders comprise 20 percent of the total membership in the country, where we proudly contribute about 60 percent of the total business generated in BNI Philippines,” Judee reveals. BNI Philippines has been a consistent top performing region. At the height of the pandemic, in 2021, Judee was invited to become part of BNI Philippines’ executive committee where she was a consultant for the Support and Growth Task Force and also the development director for company-owned regions (CORE).
“BNI is an ultimate win-win organization. Our success lies on the quality of our business leaders. Both BNI Taguig Region and Metro Manila CORE now belong to the top five percent of over 1,291 and growing BNI global business regions," says Judee. "But you see, these are more than just numbers. I believe the Filipinos can successfully thrive in the global business arena.”
Judee views the opening of borderless collaborations across countries as an opportunity to "get the wallet share" from international business.
At the height of the Covid pandemic, BNI took only a week to transition online, and the community supported each other not just in business, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. At this stage in her life, Judee dreams big dreams. Herself a business leader, she takes on the noble responsibility of helping the less privileged uplift their lives even as BNI helps in building sustainable cities. Amid challenging and volatile times, there is no other way, no other path that Judee sees but the one that leads to success.