On International Women’s Month, the world pledges to #BreakTheBias to call for a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination where women can move ahead; eventually creating a more diverse and inclusive future.

But the future starts in the workplace. Santos Knight Frank has been supporting and advocating for women empowerment, gender diversity, and equality in gender roles. This is exhibited not only in the number of female employees, but with the leadership roles that they take on – from dealing with clients and winning deals in real estate transactions; landlord and tenant management, and to keeping the peace and pace in running the company. This year, we are proud to celebrate a select number of women who we (as nominated by their superior and peers) believe have great stories to share in the biases they encounter, how they handle, and their pledge that guides them through it all.

Nathalia Tayab – Associate, Residential Services

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

NT: My responsibility is to provide our clients their new home by offering them the best houses in Manila. I am grateful for my work as I am able to provide my clients and their families a new place to stay where they can start a new life especially that most of my clients are foreigners and expats – it’s like giving them a new home far away from their home.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

NT: As a broker, I often encounter clients who are doubtful of my capabilities and often prefer the services of a male broker. Whenever I am in that situation, I ensure that I always do my best to provide the best services to my clients and show them that a woman can stand up and thrive in our industry.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

NT: To break the bias, I pledge to stand up more for myself. Be firm and courageous to not let the biases of our society hinder me to my full potential.

Kristin Carandang, Assistant Manager, Human Resources

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

KC: As the HR Assistant Manager, I handle the employee and labor relations aspect of HR in the organization. In a nutshell, employees, staff and managers alike, come to me with problems, oftentimes work related, sometimes even with personal problems. I find delight in helping individuals find solutions to these problems in a way that upholds the basic rights of every employee either by basic human decency or in accordance with what the law provides. I find solace in the knowledge that we try to do things according to what is fair and just, and that every resolution was arrived at in the manner which best serves the welfare of the organization and its people.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

KC: I grew up in an environment where women are expected to follow, not lead. In church, they teach us that Adam was created first, and that Eve was but from Adam’s own flesh;

In a typical Filipino home, the father is expected to be the family head and bring home the butter for the family. As a wife, you are supposed to faithfully follow your husband.

The truth is, sometimes, you set foot steps for others to follow because  you  alone dared enter a path no one was brave enough to pursue. You lead, not because you are a man – as society would have expected, but because despite being a woman, you are more than adequate –  this adequacy blurs the line of gender differences and we become equals.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

KC: I pledge not to wait for anyone’s affirmation; my self-assurance must resonate from within.

Gayale Ibaite-Umahag, Associate Director & Head of Property Management – Residential Developments

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

GU: I head property management for residential developments in Metro Manila. I also wear the hat of a mother of three children ages 25, 20 and 18.

GU: Women continue to occupy equally responsible job positions as with men. Since the second wave of sexual revolution including women’s role in society took place in the 60s, women empowerment including the promotion of their rights have developed and became one of the major global change and evolution.

Nowadays, a third of the so-called middle management to higher management positions are held by women, a situation that has changed dramatically in the property management industry. Back in the mid-90s or about twenty years ago, the property management job had been unfairly biased to men with an engineering degree. Those working in the same occupation as men are still systematically paid less. Women were simply made part of the support staff. Having found the right job for me, I continued to be the support staff that I was then, but worked hard to understand the job including its technical aspects. Despite being a woman and a graduate of business course, I strived hard to understand the work even without an engineering degree. While working as a support staff, I honed my leadership skills, studied in a vocational school and earned a registered master electrician certificate, volunteered to assist the technician in the switching-off of equipment and learning all technical intricacies of the building equipment specially during an emergency where the workforce is minimal. Slowly, with the combination of hard-work and dedication, I got promoted to a supervisory position. From there, I continued to work even harder to be able to get the position and thereby consistently inch my way to the ladder of success. I worked my way in, by joining my superior in all business development and operations meetings, and in no time, I got the position of operations manager. At Santos Knight Frank, Inc., property management of residential developments has statistics of women property managers at 42% of the total number of projects. Yet, more than half of this figure is non-technical.

GU: Women should never doubt their capabilities. They must believe that they are valuable, powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in this industry and in every field they are into to pursue and achieve their dreams. They must believe that they are not just a mother and a wife to but is also the epitome of courage, hope, integrity, and success

How do you pledge to break the bias?

GU: As a woman of substance, I pledge to continue to support every woman to believe in themselves, their positive influence in the industry they are involved with and give chance to those deserving to be able to continue to #BreakTheBias.

Johanna Fernandez, Operations Officer, Facilities Management

JF: I handle the general administrative duties and manage the reliever pool of Facilities Management. At the same time, I handle operational assistance to Head office and on-site personnel. I do my best in being proactive and I reward myself for it. I find fulfillment in receiving appreciation and recognition for my hard work.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

JF: During my younger days, I was once discriminated for watching basketball & wrestling. I was once discriminated for playing toy gun and car. I was once called “Tomboy”, I questioned myself if doing these things should only be done by men only. As I grew older, I realized, no one should dictate what you need to do or what you need to say. As long as it makes you happy and you are not hurting anyone, do it with a happy heart. Gender should not be the basis of what is appropriate for men and women to do in our society.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

JF: I pledge to enjoy everything that I love without hurting anyone and defy the stereotype that society dictates. I pledge to love myself more as a person and as a woman. I pledge to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment

Heidi Flores, Associate Director, Facilities Management

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

HF: 20 years’ experience in Facilities Management with almost 5 years exposure in Property Management Besides my role at SKF, I’m a single parent to a 17-year-old son who is in Grade 11 at San Beda Alabang.
I currently take the lead in overseeing all Integrated Facilities Management accounts and designated Property Management account. In doing my work, I find fulfillment in knowing that I am an integral part of the company, and that I am surrounded by hardworking and determined people in the office.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

HF: As a woman, I have always struggled with proving my value and what I can bring to the table. I believe that in this day and age, there still exists a glass ceiling which women constantly try to break. Personally, I have learned to adapt and cope with such situations

How do you pledge to break the bias?

HF: I pledge to be an advocate for equality by setting an example and by speaking up not only for myself but for other women.

Thannia “Bubbles” Albano, Director, Occupier Services

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

TA: My career has transformed through the years from being a banker, body and figure consultant, small business entrepreneur, and currently a full-time real estate practitioner. My true identity, however, is a mom, a fur-mom, a matriarch-in-training, and a prayer warrior. On my days off, I love to binge-watch series and movies, indulge in sweets such as fruits, pastries, and ice cream, and sleep.

My work is to create opportunity, match needs and solutions and negotiate deals. I see my current job as a convergence of all my previous jobs; even as figure consultant, my job was to close a sale and it still is now. The fulfilment comes not at the end of the job, but on my way to achieving it. The everyday journey is fulfilling.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

TA: I was given roles and responsibilities according to how media portrayed females which was as a homebody, someone to be prettified and married-out soon because spinsterhood is a sign of failure

Growing up, I just accepted it because family and society treated me in the same way. In some ways I liked it because it meant I was spared very physical chores, but I disliked not getting the same opportunities for academic and career advancement; I didn’t want marriage to be my sole option for a good life.

My personality was very wallflower-like with a very quiet way about me, so it was easy to pass me over and leave me alone I blame myself for this; it was laziness and self-pity which limited me. The control to take myself off the wall and into the dance-floor was in my control, as I learned later in life; I always wish I had learned that sooner.

In career, I was a minority wanting to be on-field when women were given in-office jobs. I learned early on that I liked the job that was not traditionally female: I like being on the road, talking to non-officemates, doing field work, construction projects were cool, meeting new people and matching wits with them was exciting. As a result, it was the females who sort of isolated from me and I started to have more male friends; for a while, I was socially gender neutral, belonging to both male and female groups.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

TA: I pledge to create a safe space of acceptance that is free of all preconceived notions based on sex, race, age, religion, money, education and accomplishment, and in that space allow the person to bloom, transform, make mistakes, be successful and rejoice in being who they are.  I do this in the hope that I will be given the same opportunity to be in a safe space of acceptance as well.

Joyce Olazo-Vallejo, Assistant Manager, Facilities Management

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

JV: This year is my 15th year with Santos Knight Frank, 13 years of it as part of the Facilities Management Team. I am currently in charge of overseeing 6 client facilities located in Alabang, Quezon City and Bataan. Managing work assignments, coordinating various facilities projects, ensuring that expected service levels are delivered while maintaining a positive relationship with the client are amongst the key functions.

I am also a mother of two boys ages 3 and 1. I have learned that finding a fulfilling job requires self-awareness, willingness to explore options, and a career that balances my interests and skills. I am beyond grateful to experience all of these.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

JV: With gender stereotypes putting pressure on people of all genders to live up to an unrealistic ideal, I was not spared by people treating me as inferior and doubting my capability to lead because I am a woman. I believe that every woman should be given the chance to aim higher and should be appreciated for who they are and what they have to offer as contribution to the society.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

JV: I pledge to be the best version of myself every day. Be consistent, dependable, reliable and assertive. Set a standard of excellence. Know what I want, go for it and be the best at it.

Lorelei Navarro, Senior Operations Manager, Facilities Management

 

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

I am currently handling 5 accounts with 26 sites across Metro Manila, managing about more than 100 people and communicate mostly with the leads on daily basis. For the last 13 years I’ve been with SKF, I really enjoy collaborating with my assigned teams and the most fulfilling part is that I have seen them grow over the years. I am fortunate to be part of their journey and continued success.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

At certain point in my career, I have been tasked to assume a higher position where my capabilities were doubted and was dominated by men. I have strived hard with blood, sweat and tears to overcome these challenges and came out strong and successful.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

I pledge to focus on positivity to see good in everything, do what I love and stay humble.

Monica Gonzalez, Data Centers Lead & Director, Occupier Services

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

My work is all about helping corporate clients achieve their goals, bottom line. Fulfilling the client’s purpose is in itself very fulfilling.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

I think a huge bias that many women in the corporate world face is one that is not necessarily external but instead internal: the idea that I am not good enough. Confidence and strength starts from within. This is a lesson that took me years to learn and embrace. We need to break the bias, starting with our own thoughts, conceptions and beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of. Only then can we challenge and face down external biases.

How do you pledge to break the bias?

I pledge to give myself the credit I deserve, and not to downplay my strengths and achievements.

I invite all women to join me in breaking this internal bias!

Sarah Jane Arboleda, Assistant Business Development Manager, Project Management

What do you do in your work? How do you find fulfilment in it?

I work as the deputy of the Senior Director for the Project Management, focusing on business development and relationship management. I do client servicing, including revenue generation, business continuity and growth, reaching the target without compromising business standards, integrity and work ethics. As an ambassador of the department, I find my personal fulfillment by rising above any circumstance, growing into my work, and improving professionally and personally.

Our theme is #BreakTheBias. What are the biases you’ve encountered in life in general and how do you feel about it?

Project management is one of the fields of work which leadership is more biased towards men or seniority. In my years in the business, I’ve encountered some who has made me question myself in such aspects like:

Am I too young to lead? Too young to be entitled? Too young to be skilled and experienced? Too young to have everything I’ve dreamed of? 

I’ve learned that you don’t owe anyone an explanation especially if this person has nothing to do with your personal and professional growth. Just skip to the good part!

How do you pledge to break the bias?

I pledge to be a woman of increasing value, to practice moral standards to influence and encourage women to further carve the path where gender, age, and races don’t matter in reaching their highest potential. Every strong woman knows no bounds as they break boundaries towards success.

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About Santos Knight Frank

Santos Knight Frank provides global real estate services. Since the company first opened its doors in 1994, it has become the Philippines’ first and largest fully integrated real estate services provider, with clients that include multinational corporations and institutional investors, as well as occupiers, owners and developers of real estate locally and across the globe.

The company’s partner, Knight Frank, is the largest independent global real estate consultancy. Founded in 1896 and headquartered in London, Knight Frank operates in more than 523 offices in 60 countries across the globe, including the strategically important partnership with Newmark Knight Frank in the U.S. (with Newmark Cornish & Carey in the West Coast).