For Maria Grace Uy, bringing innovation in the technology space—particularly for the telecommunication industry—is crucial to drive progress in an increasingly digital world.
More than this, however, the Converge ICT Solutions Inc. cofounder and president is all about making this available to the larger public. The interest service provider strives to extend its services across the country to everyone who needs it.
“Several years ago, fiber broadband was a luxury only the higher-income classes could afford. It was not as ubiquitous as it is today and was available only in high-income neighborhoods,” she tells the Inquirer. “Because of Converge, fiber broadband is now being offered at more affordable price points and not just by us but our competitors as well.”
Along with continuous fiber port rollout, the listed company now has a 56-percent household coverage, exceeding its 55-percent target.
Her leadership prowess was not left unnoticed. Uy is one of the “Five Women Over 50 Who Are Leading The Way In Asia-Pacific,” based on a roster curated by Hong Kong-based innovation magazine Jumpstart.
“I am thankful and humbled to have been recognized along with these amazing women who are making waves in their respective fields of expertise. I am proud to represent my fellow Filipinas who continue to push boundaries and strive to succeed in what they do regardless of age,” says Uy.
Jumpstart pays tribute to women deemed as “inspiring role models who have broken barriers and achieved incredible success.”
“Despite progress in gender equality, women over 50 still face a unique set of barriers and challenges in society. Whether it’s in the workplace or social settings, these women are often overlooked and underestimated,” it laments.
Jumpstart acknowledges Uy’s contribution in driving the growth of Converge, citing her efforts in making the company’s debut on the Philippine Stock Exchange successful despite launching the offering at the height of the pandemic.
The fiber service company has grown since and it continues to ramp up its network with investments in international undersea cable systems.
Last year, Converge saw its bottom-line figures improve by 4 percent to P7.44 billion, supported by total revenues rising by 27 percent to P33.7 billion for the period. It is projecting to improve its revenues by 10 percent to 15 percent this year, with the residential business primarily driving the growth.
As a woman in the technology field, Uy makes sure that women have an equal voice and representation within the company, which champions diversity and inclusion.
The Converge official shares they have a male to female ratio of 60:40 now, which is an improvement from 70:30 previously. The company is also “inching closer” to an equal distribution as it continues to practice nondiscrimination in the hiring process.
“I believe this has contributed to the almost equal distribution between the genders in our workforce,” she says, noting they primarily consider merit and skill when enlisting employees.
Uy recognizes there has been an improvement over the years in terms of gender equality in the tech industry with more female leaders taking on bigger roles.
But more needs to be done, she stresses.
For one, Uy calls for human resources (HR) personnel to place gender-sensitive programs in their agenda—and not just during women’s month. She adds that women’s needs in the workplace must be considered by way of benefits such as maternity leave, as mandated by law, and a robust policy on sexual harassment.
‘Challenge the norm’
Do not stick to the status quo, Uy advises women, especially the younger generation, who want to enter the tech industry.
“Challenge the norm. The youth are supposed to bring new ideas to the fore, so don’t be afraid to show a different way of doing things,” she says.
“Don’t be held back by fear of what others might think, especially the older generation. If change is what’s needed, be the first to make that change,” she added.
Uy also urges companies to close the gender gap by opening discussions on how it will be addressed. She says it is crucial to establish a culture that recognizes the power and intellect of women. “That is how you will create real empowerment,” she quips. INQ
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