Advances in gender equality in male-dominated industries like the power sector could possibly be one of the most heartening changes that can be seen today. Personal stories of women employees from various workplaces have demonstrated that it is pretty challenging to combine professional goals and motherhood duties, especially at such a time. Still, AboitizPower’s power women prove it is possible to juggle both.
AboitizPower seeks to strike a balance between its thermal and renewable portfolios by 2030, a task AboitizPower Chief Finance Officer Liza Luv Motelibano has described as challenging yet fulfilling and energizing at the same time.
“It felt like we were climbing a mountain with so many obstacles and reached the first summit, but there is a higher summit. With the 1AP team continuously evolving and innovating, we will get to that second summit, too,” Liza said.
How can she still find time for her family when her work demands so much? She shared that she uses “integration” to effectively balance her roles as an executive and mother, emphasizing the importance of making choices and setting expectations. She places boundaries at work, with phrases such as “I will get back to you” going a long way in clarifying what she can do and not do.
While some found the work-at-home setup difficult initially, Liza took advantage of its benefits. Being at home further enabled her integration strategy, even when meetings often ended later than agreed. Time management and integration allow her to get to know her sons better. She can see how actively they participate in classes and group work, especially when they update each other on their lunch breaks.
Teamwork and effective and transparent communication prevail in Liza’s household, helping her carry out the leadership she practices today.
“I remember specifically when I told my boys that I would not check assignment notebooks after Grade 4. I will let them manage their own school work, but I will be there if they ask for help. And they have to know when to ask for help (similar to being in the workplace, right?). When they asked for help, I made sure I really did it (the Math homework),” she said, laughing as she recalled the setup.
Liza found that the company environment isn’t as different from a household. In fact, Liza adopts best practices in her workplace and applies them at home and vice versa. Aside from teamwork, preparation, planning, and organizing are must-have rules in the family. She ensures that the family has clear criteria for making decisions, from providing her kids with a variety of nutritious meals to addressing the loss of internet connection during online classes.
Being both a mother and a professional leader is an exciting and enjoyable experience for Liza. Although challenging, she revealed that she has mainly found it interesting that being both has helped her get better. “My leadership style at work is influenced by my being a mother. The patience, nurturing, and discipline that you get better at as a mother makes you a better team leader,” she shared.
But between the two aspects of Liza’s life, she emphasized that her children are her joy. Her boys made her a better person – a better mother and team leader. She is thankful that they support her for being a working mom. She prays and hopes that they “live a life full of joy, passion, challenges and [that] success that will help them find purpose and fulfillment.”
With her successful career and fulfilling motherhood, Liza really has everything figured out. There are many lessons to learn just from her story alone. Still, her greatest advice to young women or women who might have faced or been in a similar situation is to be clear when making choices.
Although preparation is necessary, is it also good to accept that “there are things a full-time mom can do that you cannot.” Instead, wait for a time when you learn particular perspectives in life drawn from your career. And that, in many ways, according to Liza, will make you a better mom.
“Once you accept that wholly, you will be better empowered to optimize the situation. Communicate clearly at work and at home what you can and cannot do to clarify expectations. Lastly, know that being a working mom is a gift. Accept this gift wholly, find joy in it, and everything will be alright,” she said.
AboitizPower Generation Chief Financial Officer Racquel Bustamante emphasizes the importance of commitment and having priorities in order.
Before the pandemic, Racquel’s biggest struggle was time. She never stops being a mother, even when in the office. Asking for updates about them here and there to finish the tasks early to go home, take care of, and be with them. Only to find out that the kids are already tired, fast asleep, or have missed dinner. And like Liza, she grabbed the opportunity of making the most of her time in the WFH arrangement.
According to Racquel, the setup during the pandemic was better. This time, she got time for both. “I was working from home, literally from meetings. They were beside me, helping them with their homework, sewing, and project[s]. At the same time, my time is also in the office,” she shared. She also added that she didn’t have to choose between the two because she literally had both all simultaneously.
AboitizPower is one of the contributing factors to Raquel’s favorable setup, as they are very supportive. She said that employees are not mandated to report to the office unless required otherwise by their respective team leaders and handle the transition. She slowly transitioned to the arrangement so she and her members would quickly get used to it.
Racquel may have a household helper, but she sees she is present to all her children, especially the youngest, who is nine years old. She focuses more on quality instead of quantity. Two or three hours are enough as long as they are worthwhile and spent correctly.
Racquel said in jest that she treats her two older children – aged 18 and 16 – like her team members. She ensures that they grow up with guidance and support, including a sound order system, rules, and policies. To have a solid sense of responsibility and accountability, she sets an example and delegates chores to them.
Racquel discovered another parallel instance of working from home and how fulfilling and enjoyable her team members and children are. “I enjoy that sense of fulfillment when I see them mature and grow as better individuals,” she expressed.
Of course, the children are the world for Racquel. She wants to continue to teach them life lessons and “show them what the real world really is.” So, when the time comes that they are parents themselves, they become better versions due to the values of responsibility and integrity they learned. Because at the end of the day, her greatest hope for them is to be happy and prosperous. “Whatever you have, whatever you do, everything will fall into place,” she said.
That is why Racquel can only shed light on the fact that there is “no perfect formula to all the young women who might have faced a similar situation.” Instead, find the right balance for essential choices. Because for her, it was never a choice between motherhood and a career.
“For young mothers, there will always be a lot of pressure to do it all. There will always be the guilt factor. You would always feel pressured to succeed in your career and motherhood, making you feel frustrated. I am the only one who can decide what works best for me. There is no perfect formula, but we have to find the right balance. Always keep a positive mindset. Every problem has a solution,” she concluded.
One of the most critical ingredients in AboitizPower Distribution Group Chief Financial Officer Jeihan Borlaza’s successful motherhood-career-balance recipe is her mother, whom she calls her “main inspiration” and “role model.”
Like the effective leader she is, her mom was a bank executive while raising five kids. She recalled how she was encouraged to go further and be persistent in achieving her goals. “[Mom] was one woman who doesn’t take no for an answer. She would always find a way,” Jeihan shared.
While Jeihan is relatively a new member at Aboitiz Power – joining the company in October 2020 at the height of the pandemic – her work experience is quite broad. She was with a consumer goods company for 20 years and handled various finance roles. Now in her current company, she is delighted to be working in such a dynamic and forward-looking company. She also added that she is surrounded by “supportive teammates and inspiring working moms thriving in their own careers.”
Same with the experiences of Liza and Racquel, Aboitiz Power plays a huge role as they further pursue a good balance between motherhood and career. When asked about her experience working in a male-dominated industry, she said that she has not felt any discrimination in the said company for being a woman. “I am treated as an equal, and my colleagues treat me with respect,” she confidently shared.
Working in an environment with tight deadlines and high standards like in finance, it is inevitable for Jeihan to do overtime. To meet her responsibilities as an executive and mother, she “defines her priorities and makes time for the most important things.” She recalled, “I make sure that I offset that with quality family time after the busy season. I also have a strong support system. My spouse is an equal partner in raising our children, and our extended family is always willing to help.”
It is also inevitable to bring some learned and shared qualities in the workplace to the household. These would be prioritization, resource allocation, and digitalization, among others.
“As a mom, I influence which activities we will spend time on as a family. I am in charge of our family budget, and I leverage technology to make running my household more efficient,” she added.
At Jeihan’s core is being an effective problem-solver. According to her, what gives her joy as a mother and professional leader is the ability to help, offer advice, and resolve issues harmoniously with people.
And just like how her mother inspired her in her younger years, Jeihan’s greatest hope is to encourage her two daughters to be the best version of themselves. “To dream and work towards achieving their life goals,” she said.
Yet as for those young women and women who might have experienced the same situation, Jeihan shared that gender “is not and should not be an issue in pursuing a career.” She emphasized the need to be clear on your life goals and go for them, build a robust support system, work smart, prioritize, and learn to say no when things are not on your list.
Liza, Racquel, and Jeihan exemplify women who thrive in their careers and families. Their stories are a testament to the Aboitiz Group’s drive to increase diversity and belonging in the workplace, making the company a more innovative, creative, and engaged organization.
The Aboitiz Group builds and nurtures a culture where all members are celebrated and recognized, empowering women in their roles as mothers, leaders, and team members in parallel with its promise of advancing businesses and communities.