Cover Story

Women in leadership

Gone are the days when women filled the lower positions in the workplace. In these “modern” times, they now play a vital and influential role in the prosperity and growth of any company.

Isn’t it true anyway that women hoped up half of the world?

Women have always worked, whether in paid jobs or at home, often at both. Despite the advances made by women in the workforce, gender inequality remains a huge challenge.

And yet there are some who still question whether or not we should give equal opportunities to both men and women.

Listening to women working for mining companies will make one realize that no gender or any type of work in this world can stop them from fulfilling their ambition to grow professionally and to learn.

In Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC), the country’s largest nickel mining conglomerate, women are well represented in the organization as it values their important role in achieving the company’s goals.

In this issue, we take time to recognize and honor key women in NAC, leaders in their field of endeavor.


People define success differently. For some, wealth accumulation, increased free time, lifestyle options, are just a few ways that people can define success.

So how does someone — who seems to have everything already — define success?

The moment one walks into her office it becomes noticeable what a comfortable life she lives. However, despite the beautiful things that surround her and that accompany bearing a distinguished name in both politics and business, Ms. Maria Patricia Zamora-Riingen remains humble and down to earth.

Patricia, or “Diday”, as she is called by family members and close friends, is the newest member of the Board of Directors of NAC. She is president of their family business, Manta Equities, Inc., established in 1990 essentially as a property holding company.

Through the years, the company has invested in various industries including real estate development and prime office leasing, agriculture heavy equipment and irrigation, and the food and beverage industries.

Most prominent in real estate development is the 30-storey NAC Tower along 32nd Ave. in BGC – home to the Aboitiz Group of Companies, Sumitomo Metal Mining Philippines, Mitsui and Co., Sojitz Philippines, the Embassy of Oman and, of course, to Nickel Asia Corporation.

Another, ongoing, real estate development is another Grade A office building in ARCA South, an Ayala Development, in the former FTI Complex in Taguig.

Diday, is very hands on. Despite this, she has remained on top of her game while balancing her responsibilities as a wife and mother to three children.

Looking back now that her kids are all grown up and working abroad, she is thankful she has a good support system.

“I am happy that I am getting all the support that I need from my husband and other members of the family,” she said.

As a boss, she makes sure that she also knows the life of her people. She believes it is important to be familiar and engaged with them.

“It is also important to build a personal relationship with your people. This is because I want them to feel comfortable about approaching me. I want them to let me know if there’s a problem. I want my people also to give me a solution instead of problem,” she stressed.

Diday is happy that gender equality and employment opportunities for women are better here in the Philippines than in other countries such as Japan and Thailand where male senior officers dominate.

“It’s also our mindset that we have to change. Sometimes the limitations are more self-driven. If you feel that you are limited because you’re female, change your mindset. You can do it even if you have kids - you can still have a career that is as successful as your male counterpart. It all starts with us and we should believe that anything is possible if you work hard,” Diday advises.

For many career-driven women, juggling tasks as a mom, an employee or even as a boss is no easy feat. Multi-tasking is definitely a thing that most of us will find more difficult to do.

Regardless of Diday’s status in life, she is an example and an inspiration for other women aspiring to achieve success through hard work and the ability to balance career and family.

The NAC Board of Directors is going to be a different Board — and NAC, too, as a result — with her around!


Atty. Georgina Carolina Y. Martinez grew up in a household where women in the workforce were not uncommon.

Her grandmother was a prominent doctor and was a significant influence in her life. When she was a child, Atty. Gina would cut the limbs of her dolls apart and try to put them back together pretending to conduct an operation.

After she graduated from Assumption College with a degree in Business Administration, Atty. Gina wanted to take a gap year but her mother already set her up with a job at a bank.

Eventually, she wanted to take further studies to boost her professional development, and thought of pursuing medicine to be like her grandmother but the sight of blood is something she cannot stomach. So becoming a doctor was out of the picture. Until somebody suggested Law.

She took the challenge and entered the College of Law of Ateneo de Manila University. She graduated with honors in 1992 with a Juris Doctor degree and upon passing the bar in 1993, became the first lawyer in her family.

Like most newbie lawyers, Atty. Gina started her career as an associate in a law firm. She later worked as the head of the Legislative Department of Sen. Nikki Coseteng and after the birth of her first child in 1996, she worked as an in-house counsel of a bank to have more structured hours for her family.

In search for better opportunities, Atty. Gina joined the Financial and Special Projects Division of PLDT’s Corporate and Legal Group. She was the first female Division Head in PLDT’s CorLeg.

In PLDT, she was blessed to have worked under the direct supervision of and mentored by the then Corporate Secretary and General Counsel of PLDT, Atty. Ma. Lourdes C. Rausa-Chan.

Atty. Gina was so impressed with the work ethic and vast knowledge of her boss, that she became Atty. Gina’s role model. Atty. Gina looked up to her because, like her, her boss was a wife and mother and yet is very successful in her field.

She tried to learn as much from her as she could. So, when it was time for Atty. Gina to move on to another company, she tried to emulate and apply all that she learned.

From PLDT, Atty. Gina took on posts in different industries – Information Technology, broadcast and her last post prior to Nickel Asia Corporation, renewable energy and in all these posts, she does her best to learn from her work.

Atty. Gina is truly a rose among the thorns; in their household, she has her husband and her four boys, and in the workplace, she is one of the few women amongst Nickel Asia Corporation’s officers.

“A great leader is someone who (1) can inspire others to do the best that they can, (2) has integrity and can walk the talk, (3) is responsible and accountable for her actions; and (4) has empathy. A leader should be able to recognize that each person has different concerns that she should be able to manage,” she said.

Her staff and colleagues look up to how she maintains work-life balance.

She admits though, “There is no sure formula but over the years, I’ve learned to prioritize. Which are the more important things for me, which are the ones that matter to me the most.”

While work is very important, she says, “Nothing ever compares to family. I may not be able to attend all the activities of my kids, but in the events that matter most to my children, I am never away. I’m always there.”

She also mentions that one of the things that truly helps her is her religion and faith. Being active in her Church helps her keep grounded, “By nature, I am a control freak. It’s hard for me to delegate, or even if I delegate, I’ll still be there at the back [guiding]. But I recognize there are things that are truly beyond my control and for as long as I know I have done my best, I leave it up to Him.”

She shares her advice to women who aim to achieve a more prominent role in their fields, “First, you have to work hard. You need to put in the effort and always do your best. Second, you have to manage your time. You have a life outside of work. And lastly, there should be a desire for you to continue learning, not necessarily about the job, but about everything and anything. You can’t stop learning because there is always something new that can help you in your career or your personal life.”

Being in the corporate world, especially for a woman, is no walk in the park. But Atty. Gina has chosen that path and remains steadfast. She is tenacious at doing exactly that – combining the right resolve and carefully doing the balancing act between her career and her family.

As we in NAC all know – Atty. Gina is doing an excellent job at that.


With such an extensive and impressive background, one would think that Ms. Angel

Villamor had carefully laid out her plans for her career as an accountant.

Angel worked for almost 20 years at SGV, nine months at KPMG Dubai until she finally found her home—Nickel Asia Corporation — where she holds the position of Vice President Internal Audit.

She actually wanted to take up a course related to Science, specifically Bio

Chemistry. Considering the number of years that she would need to be at school, her

father said that it would be expensive and advised her to take up Accountancy


The plan was to save up enough money to take up Bio Chemistry, but things

didn’t go as planned.

Now armed with a remarkable track record, it is quite obvious that it was all for the better.

There’s not a tinge of regret for the botched plan to take up her dream Science

course, she now says, stressing that she wouldn’t change a thing as to how she

ended up in the field of accountancy.

“Accountancy opens up different possibilities for you. Your mindset is more broad; you don’t only see the financial side, you see the impact of different operations. Especially in internal audit,” she now proclaims, fully embracing the accounting

profession, challenges and all

She aptly fits the description of a workaholic, as she wholly dedicated her time in

immersing herself in her profession.

Starting out in the corporate world at a young age, she was used to staying overnight and doing overtime. She would always look for work, especially during slack season.

That is why whenever she is given a new job or client, she is very excited and is

always seriously up to the challenge as she views it as another opportunity to learn something new.

Her mantra thus has always been this: “As an auditor, we are great at time

management. We work hard, we play hard.”

Angela is happily single. She shares, “There is a time in your life you start to

question yourself. But my biggest rewards are my nieces and nephews, and my

grandchildren. They are my family who will be there for me.”

While she is still open to finding her partner in life, she will not let a man, or lack thereof, define her.

Her parents had a tremendous impact on her life, firmly raising her with the

complete understanding of the value of equality between man and woman.

Equality has never been an issue with her, so being one of NAC’s management team — which is dominated by men — is not at all intimidating to her.

She praises the Board and Officers with having the same mindset – thus steering

the company to the top was a lot easier.

She is aware that a diverse set of equally professional colleagues with strong personalities is a staple in any company

Rather than seeing it as a difficult challenge, Ms. Villamor views it as a lighter weight to carry, to seeing into fruition the mission and vision of a company, with everyone fully united, synchronized and supportive of all that is beneficial for the whole


“A leader should be a visionary, because you will be steering the company where

you want it to be. You should also have people’s skills, because you cannot do it

alone. In order to achieve your goals and targets, you should have genuine

relationships with your co-officers and even the employees. There are a lot of

support activities that will be coming from them,” she stressed.

Things may not have gone according to plan for Angel, but it is very evident that

what she went through made her what she is now – a highly successful, strong, and happy independent woman.


Another inspiring and humbling woman is Iryan Jean Padillo, AVP for Finance of NAC.

An alumna of the University of the East, her career started at SGV, a leading audit firm in the country.

Iryan (to her friends and officemates) recalls how growing up she has always wanted to be an accountant.

She laughs at the memory of how she ran up to the SGV headquarters, left her resume at the reception and left immediately, not hoping or expecting she will be hired.

When she was in grade school, she always looked for classified ads and noticed that most of the job offers are all in the field of accounting such as Accounting Staff or Accounting Clerk.

She got married at the age of 27 but her original plan was to settle down at 28.

Love gave a sweet surprise, when her then boyfriend Darwin asked her to marry her. Without hesitation Iryan said yes, “Isang taon lang naman ang pagitan eh, sige na at baka magbago isip.”

Even with her obligations as a wife, Iryan continues to help her family and finances the study of her other siblings; one who took up Pharmacy in Our Lady of Fatima University while the other was a student in Electronic Communication Engineering of University of the East. She focused on her family since at that time she didn't have a child yet.

Her ambition to strive and achieve more in life didn’t end. After almost 10 years in SGV, a great opportunity came. A friend from NAC, a Senior Finance Manager at that time, decided to leave and work in Australia. That friend offered Iryan a job in NAC.

"I am happy and contented with NAC. The company gave me a better and fair treatment in many aspects. For some being a [woman] is an issue but here in NAC, I don’t feel that I do not belong. They always make sure that employees excel and prioritize our needs whether in personal life or work," she said.

"As I look back on my career as a simple student whose dream is to have work after college and be a mother, I could not expect that God has a better plan for me. I hope my humble beginnings can help and inspire other people to strive hard and be a better version of themselves."

Iryan deems herself lucky to be in the position she is in right now; but in truth it is Lu ck coupled with the willingness to learn and face head on the challenges along the way.

But more than these, there’s that determination in life and intelligence that gives her the advantage needed to succeed and shine more than she expected.


Business and leadership strategies have evolved.

To empower and be empowered will always be key traits inherent in, and appreciated by every woman.

Lennie Terre is one woman with substance, and embodies the qualities of a great leader, a type of boss who really cares and embraces not only the strengths of her people but also their flaws.

Lennie is originally from Buenavista, Guimaras, the land famous for its ripe mangoes. Her story though is not as sweet.

She grew up leading a simple life but full of determination. As a child, she was driven to achieve her ambitions not only for herself but also for her family.

She is proud to say that she came from a public school. For six years she had to walk more than a kilometer to school. She continued her high school in one of the leading private schools in Iloilo, the Colegio Del Sagrado Corazon De Jesus, operated by nuns and exclusive for girls.

Her family decided to enroll her in a private school because her sister-in-law was a teacher at the school and the tuition can be paid in installment.

Lennie is a product of the leading university in the country, the University of the Philippines, where she took the course of BSBA (Accounting) with a Master’s Degree in Management (Business Management).

She shared that her years in UP trained her to be independent and to value the rewards of hard work.

She is the youngest among the seven children in the family and growing up, her brother-in-law, a CPA graduate, gave her the idea to take accountancy with a notion that it’s easy to find a job when you are an accounting graduate because it cuts across all industries.

Since her brother-in-law has an auditing firm, she decided to work there for a while after she graduated in college.

Lennie was then offered by U.P. Iloilo to teach. She accepted it because she missed life in the province, simple and laidback.

It took three years before she quit teaching and decided to go back Manila. She said that while she was teaching she felt inadequate because she lacked the actual experience of being an accountant.

For more than five years she was part of a management consultancy firm which designs and conducts training programs for bank and other companies. After that stint, she joined the financial services sector, being the accountant of stock brokerage firms and operations head of an offshore banking unit.

From the financial sector, she joined an institutional food service company catering to hospitals and private companies.

Her career here in NAC began when Emmanuel Samson, now the SVP - Chief Finance Officer, invited her to join the company and replace TMC’s VP for Finance who was about to retire.

On her 11th year with TMC, Lennie continues to express her happiness and contentment in work and life, in general.

She knows that from time to time she will encounter or face more challenges but the lessons learned from experience and her faith in God’s providence, she is confident she can navigate through the rough courses.

"Honestly, I am one of the boys. I never felt out of place here in NAC. It's not easy to find a company where women are respected, valued and treated fairly. I never had an issue with officemates,” she said.

The leader, she added, must be honest and have to maintain the highest level of integrity; tough but with care and be sincere at all times.

“As much as possible I try to learn about the personal life of my people so that I would know how to deal with them and be more understanding of their behavior,” she said.

She said a good leader is also a good listener, empathic and willing to share her knowledge for the benefit of their people.

"I always think ahead, anticipating something that could go wrong as a result of my decision. I can also say that my type of leadership is situational. I have to give directions and make decisions depending on the the situation,” she added.

These women of NAC posses truly inspiring stories. From humble beginnings to achieving the success they deserve, these women are engaged, bound and born to lead.

They believe that women should strive to strike a balance between their commitment to their profession as well as to their home and family.

They are playing multiple roles of mother, daughter, sister, aunt, wife and a working professional with remarkable harmony and ease. And succeeding at it.

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