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HUESPAPER BY THE NEW HUE

Manila, Philippines

POV: Reese Balbastro on Diversity in Leadership, Imposter Syndrome and the Balance of Time

Updated: Mar 8, 2023



Women in leadership are those who possess positions of authority and sway across a range of sectors and businesses. Although traditionally underrepresented, there has been a drive in recent years to raise the proportion of women in leadership positions.


It is crucial to have more women in leadership roles for a number of reasons. It contributes to the development of a more varied and inclusive workplace culture where all workers experience support and worth. Second, it introduces fresh viewpoints and methods for tackling issues, resulting in more original and creative answers. Finally, it supports gender equality in the workplace and elsewhere by assisting in the dismantling of gender stereotypes.


Women in leadership positions can act as mentors and role models for other women, inspiring them to seek careers in leadership and offering advice and support. It's critical to foster a culture at work that helps women succeed, particularly by providing flexible schedules, parental leave, and equal pay for equal effort.


In a world like the IT industry which is primarily dominated by men, rarely do you see female leaders. We came across Reese Balbastro, Vice President for Training and Events, PICSPro, who is making her mark not just for herself but with her team as they break the norm of leadership we all traditionally practice.

 

TNH: Do you experience resistance when you are leading men? How do you deal with it?


REESE: Leading men and women is equally challenging. Effective leadership requires a combination of skills, traits, and strategies. How do I deal with resistance? I keep open and clear communication channels. I make sure that they understand the expectations, goals, and objectives.


In our team, we strongly encourage collaboration -- everyone in the team can participate by giving insights, suggestions, and ideas to build a positive team culture, overall. Because when everyone works together, they can accomplish more than they could individually.


TNH: Have you ever felt the Imposter Syndrome? If so, how did you navigate your way through it?


REESE: Yes and I still do. In fact, given my line of work where I handle major responsibilities, I make a lot of vital decisions, and even when I get opportunities, sometimes I still doubt myself– Am I capable? Am I doing enough?


For instance, I struggle with public speaking but I do love talking to people and I want to inspire people but sometimes it’s really difficult to articulate my thoughts.


What really helped me overcome these challenges so far is I’m attending workshops where I get to meet people coming from different industries and it’s been really helpful, especially learning best practices from my batchmates and getting a boost of confidence from them.



TNH: How can women “work across the divides” of opinions?


REESE:

  • Be open to critics – You are not perfect and you can learn and improve more if you are open to feedback.

  • Don’t compare yourself to the achievements of others – It’s okay to look up to someone and admire their achievements. But never, EVER compare. Because you have your own path to take and own strengths you can master.

  • Be your own you – You are unique. Create your own brand.

  • Find mentors - I learned that you are the average of the five people you spend time with. Spend time with mentors younger than you and older than you. You’d be surprised with various learnings you can get from their insights and experiences.


TNH: How can we include women leaders that are moms and balance their time?


REESE: Being a parent/a mom should not be a hindrance to climb the leadership ladder. My priority is my family. But I’d be honest, it’s tough. Like for working moms in our industry, how do we balance our time?


I’m reading this book by Indra Nooyi, she’s the former CEO of PepsiCO and her mom said: “You may be president or whatever of PepsiCo, but when you come home, you are a wife and mother and a daughter. Nobody can take your place. So you leave that crown in the garage” - Indra Nooyi, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and our Future


So I would like to acknowledge the support of my husband and my daughter, having a solid support system in the family helps a lot in managing both the household and a team of 45 individuals.


Towards the 2nd half of last year, when most of the business opened up and partners started to meet customers in person. My schedule became crazy again: back to back meetings, whether it’s internal and external. My husband helps to take care of our daughter, making sure she gets to do her homework during her asynchronous schedules. And when I go home, I make sure to spend quality time and give my undivided attention to my daughter. Whether it’s reading a book, painting, drawing or just chatting about how our day has been. That’s my favorite part of the day.


Second my team, my MSPH family - by empowering them I can focus on my other tasks in the operations and company strategies. Because I have a great team and team leaders - I can do more and we can do more.


I never stop learning. I started my training and certification for a cybersecurity course. I’m doing a certification course as well to hold space for others so I can be a better listener and a better leader for my team.


And how can I possibly do all of these things? Again, with the support of my family.


And she said that,” At the end of the day, don’t forget that you’re a person, don’t forget you’re a mother, don’t forget you’re a wife, don’t forget you’re a daughter”. Indra Nooyi, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and our Future

 

We are now living in a world that went through a pandemic and should continuously progress and seek growth in every aspect of our existence. Normalizing female leaders requires a concerted effort from both individuals and organizations. Here are some ways that can help promote and normalize female leadership:

  • Educate yourself and others on the benefits of gender diversity in leadership and create awareness about the challenges that women encounter in reaching leadership positions.

  • Boost the visibility of female leaders in your organization and the larger community to increase the number of women in leadership positions. This may entail emphasizing the successes of women in leadership positions in company communications, including marketing materials, and inviting them to speak at professional gatherings.

  • Women in leadership roles can mentor and encourage other women, offering advice and assistance as they navigate the obstacles of leadership.

  • Challenging gender stereotypes: Start by attacking gender stereotypes that imply that only men should hold positions of leadership. Let young girls and women know that their thoughts and talents are valued, and encourage them to pursue leadership roles.

  • Provide a supportive workplace culture: Businesses can do this by providing flexible scheduling, parental leave, and equal compensation for equal labor. Support women's accomplishments, applaud them, and offer them chances to grow in their careers.


About Reese Balbastro


With more than 15 years in the IT industry, she is currently the Deputy Country Manager of a regional IT distributor in the Philippines, a Cybersecurity sales professional and advocate of cybersecurity awareness in the Philippines. She is also one of the National Officers at PICSPro, as Vice President for Training and Events. She hopes to encourage more young women to venture into IT and especially in the Cyberscurity space. She is a mom and a wife. Also advocating on women empowerment and mental health wellness.


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