HerStory: Women in Tech Part I

Meet the Women of ITG: Almira Navarro, Amie Abalos, and Rubie Villamor

March 6, 2024 | Blog

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, perseverance, and a lot of patience, but mostly, the gut to dream big for yourself. And for women of IT Group, Inc.(ITG), their inspiring stories are not far from those of most women who face struggles, whether in their lives or careers. So, how do women survive and thrive in their careers, especially in the male-dominated tech industry? Take it from the amazing women of ITG.

Today, as we start our month-long celebration of International Women’s Day, we featured inspiring women to share their stories and experiences of what it’s like being a woman in the tech industry, from ITG’s Chief Marketing Officer Almira ‘Mimi’ Navarro to Head of Human Capital and Admi for PH Amie Abalos to Head of Business Management Solutions for PH Rubie Casaña-Villamor, they’ll share their thoughts and experiences to inspire us how to overcome adversaries with wit and grit, and of course, beauty and grace. 

Also read: IT Group, Inc. Inspires Inclusion  

1. Why do you think women are important to occupy space in their chosen careers?

Navarro: When there’s a woman in an organization, she provides balance. We know that men are very straightforward. Unlike us, women, we [have a higher] emotional [capacity to] relate [and have] empathy with people. Aside from being empathetic, women have their [own] appeal—bringing balance to the organization. [Women are important to occupy their own space] because we balance the organization. While men are often stereotyped with the words power and dominance, women, on the other hand, are associated with the lighter side of the spectrum, such as concern and affection.

Abalos: Women in different industries are important to occupy space in our chosen careers as we offer unique characteristics. We, women, enhance the dynamics and effectiveness of our organizations. Multi-tasking, attention to detail, and, most especially, a touch of femininity are just a few of our strengths.

Villamor: Women are great equalizers, [especially] in a male-dominated industry like the Information and Technology sector. Women in a team provide [solid] structure on how things are done, all while providing fluidity [and diversity] in an organization. Also, we women can be the voice for the unheard and minorities. And most of all, the sensitivity and empathy of a woman, especially a working Mom, is incomparable. [That alone explains that] women wear many hats and still perform really well.  

2. In your life and/or career, what was the most unforgettable experience where you doubted yourself because you are a woman? How did you stand up for yourself and overcome it?

Navarro: In general, executives [are mostly] dominated by men. [And for sure, it’s hard to be the only woman with a seat at the table], especially when you’re working for a company on a global scale. Many cultures sometimes believe and assume that women can’t call the shot [and have the power to] decide [for the business]. For almost two decades of my career, I, too, experienced being discriminated, simply because I’m a woman. I felt my thoughts and opinions were unheard, unseen, and invalidated at some point. Eventually, I left to seek a more inclusive space where women could express themselves, feel valued, and be treated as equals. 

Abalos: I started with ITG with a shallow knowledge of technology. I had challenges in every meeting with the different tech jargon and every process of it. But I [was able to keep up] on how [technology and] AI work. I learned to adapt through progressive learning, and the same model as a human brain works by focusing on three cognitive skills: reasoning, knowledge, and self-correction. From there, I found my way, and every day after, I learned something new. 

Villamor: I often find myself as the only woman in a group of men at the ITG Technology office, in partner executive meetings, speaking engagements, or a panel discussion. Since there’s a common belief that men are superior beings to women, there is that feeling of lesser value and lesser opportunity for [many women like] me. But in those years that I worked closely with all men, I thrived by being that woman who worked systematically, structured [in my ways], [and took advantage of] well-thought tools and materials, which also helped me to express my opinions and ideas without any fear.

I recall an incentive trip for the achievers in Japan in 2018 together with our CEO, and I was the only woman in the group.  Instead of feeling inferior and outnumbered by men, I think it was a strategic advantage [for me as a woman] in terms of treatment and privilege.

3. How does ITG help and support women in their overall careers? 

Navarro: If I’m not mistaken, previous CMOs were all men. So this is the first time the Head of Marketing or the CMO is a woman. So, during the time I had my interview with CPG (Cris P. Gamboa, the president and CEO of ITG), one of the things that resonated with me was that he wanted to see how different it would be if the CMO was a woman. In our executive and regional team, there are two women, myself included. In that part alone, ITG shows how they value and welcome women, especially in critical roles like mine as the Head of Marketing. Although the ratio between men and women in leadership is still arguable, it goes to show that ITG gives women equal opportunity to be in executive roles. Having a mix of men and women in leadership roles is better than having none at all.

Abalos: 40% of the PH ManCom team are women. Though we are dominated by men in the leadership team, ITG reassures and supports its people, as always, to feel empowered through training based on our specialization, regardless of our gender.

Villamor: ITG has given women like me an equal opportunity to lead the technology team. Ideas and opinions of women in ITG are heard and considered equally. Training and enablement privileges are both available for all, regardless of gender, including rewards and recognitions. Most of all, women are highly respected by men here in ITG, which allows us to feel safe and secure in the workplace.

4. What’s your hope for the future of women in tech?

Navarro: When I started my career, I thought there was no opportunity for me in the tech industry. [And I thought] they didn’t need any marketing [efforts]. [But] to my surprise, I learned that marketing is crucial in the tech industry because it can make a significant difference [with their overall business growth].  Hopefully, there will be more women who can be part of the leadership team because our ideas, thoughts, and feelings are very important in any organization. For me, women really provide balance, relevance, emotion, and care because all-male leadership can [sometimes] be very strict, straightforward, and very operational. 

Abalos: I have high hopes for women, especially in the tech industry. I look forward to the future where more women will thrive in this male-dominated industry and occupy leadership and management roles. I hope in the future, the tech industry will be viewed as a sector run equally by women.  

Villamor: [I hope] women will be given more and bigger platforms and roles in technology, start-ups, venture capitalists, and sustainability companies. But the roles are not enough. [I believe] we should also have a support system and policies for us to execute and fulfill our duties without sacrificing our roles as a [daughter, sister], wife, and mother. [I hope] women will be given more flexibility in working hours and location, well-thought considerations, benefits and privileges, especially for women who are moms and/or breadwinners of their family. 

5. If you have a message for all the women out there, especially women interested in joining the Tech Industry, what would it be? And why? 

Navarro: The tech industry isn’t just for men, to be honest. [In fact,] any industry isn’t just for men. But if you feel there’s no room and space for you or an opportunity to be part of the tech industry because you are a woman, that’s unacceptable. In any organization, make sure you can be part of it. [Make sure] you’ll have a voice and a share, and your inputs should be [recognized] and validated. Do not let anyone invalidate you as a woman. Because we are not just a woman—we are a woman. Do not discriminate yourself; if you do, how will you conquer a male-dominated industry like tech if you keep doubting yourself? [Lastly, remember] we have the right to take space because women provide balance.

Abalos: Somehow, men have an advantage when it comes to technical operations. On the other hand, women bring fresh perspectives when approaching challenges. Combined and worked together, we help the industry provide a holistic approach when creating technologies, whether products or services that are more inclusive and diverse. To all the women who want to pursue a tech career, this is your sign to take that leap. You have the power to create something different and it starts with believing you can.

Villamor: [My message for all the women out there,] You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re God’s deeply loved daughter. You’re strong because Christ is your strength. His grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in weakness. You have a promising future because that is God’s plan for you. You are bigger than who you think you are. You have the potential to co-create and impact society by pursuing the technology space. Your values and insights can put a balance behind every technology. Be that strong woman the world needs to be.

IT Group, Inc. Ventures Together to Inspire Inclusion

For over 20 years in the industry, IT Group, Inc. has been the leading IT Solutions Partner in the Philippines and the ASEAN region. The company’s success is because of the people behind it, especially women who took the lead and drove the business to where it is today. As a diverse and multicultural company, ITG has been at the forefront of cultivating inclusivity for all. This is our way to connect with our people and to show our clients and business partners from various industries that we treat everyone equally.

As an ISO 9001:2015 Certified company with four regional offices located in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, helping 200+ clients across the ASEAN region on their digital transformation journey and has a solid portfolio of 250+ successful projects, we pride ourselves on strong-willed and empowered women who stood by us and took the drive in our continuous success to be one of the leading technology partners for system-wide innovative solutions that delivers seamless integrations and processes, from Business Management Solutions, IT Management, Integration & Automation, and Enterprise Data Management to IT Infrastructure.

Know more about our story and Let’s Venture Together!