On March 8 every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated all around the world to recognize the contributions and achievements of women across various communities while calling for greater equality. This year, the theme “Make It Happen” aims to encourage effective action for advancing and recognizing women. In conjunction with this occasion, Microsoft Asia Pacific will be featuring female leaders from around the region, sharing their inspirations as well as words of advice for women hoping to #MakeItHappen in the technology industry and beyond.
Karrie C. Ilagan
Country General Manager, Microsoft Philippines
As the first Filipina managing director of Microsoft Philippines, Karrie Ilagan oversees the company’s overall business growth and is focused on driving strategic partnerships and alliances as well as growing the sales and marketing operations. Her current role also allows her to pursue her passion to bring technology and innovation to education, businesses and communities to help transform the lives of Filipinos. Before she joined Microsoft in 2006, Ilagan started her career at IBM Philippines where she spent more than 12 years in various roles including country manager for the Personal Computing Division and territory executive for General Business.
What advice would you give girls to help them reach their goals and Make It Happen?
My advice for these girls is to be clear on what they want and know what they are really passionate about. Build a plan such as choosing a career aligned to their own passions and be deliberate about working toward this plan.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women around the world. Just like we celebrate other significant days for women like Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day is an important commemoration of the essence and potential of women. As a woman, it’s an extremely special day for me.
Do you currently support any female orientated causes outside of work? Tell us a bit more about the organization, what your involvement is and why it inspires you.
I am part of the Filipina CEO Group which aims to help Filipina women accelerate their corporate careers in the Philippines and break the glass ceiling on management roles to senior leadership positions. It inspires me because, having experienced it myself throughout my career, I recognize the unique challenges that women face in succeeding in the workplace. I’m happy to share my insights and experience to help make that path an easier one for younger women with a passion to excel and succeed in any field they choose.
Where do you see the most progress currently being made for women in technology?
There is now greater emphasis to improve the balance on women participation and involvement in the technology industry. I am proud to say that the company I work for recognizes diversity and inclusion as an integral and inherent part of our culture, allowing us to attract, develop and retain the best talent while fuelling our business growth.
How does being a female leader help you make a difference?
A woman’s natural characteristic is having that distinct knack for putting others over herself which is quite similar to what is commonly known as servant leadership. Female leaders draw on several natural leadership qualities that can help them make a difference and inspire productivity and results. I believe perseverance and a nurturing spirit are two traits that are critical in motivating others to step up, and go the extra mile.
At Microsoft, we strive to create an environment that helps us capitalize on the diversity of our people and the inclusion of ideas and solutions to meet the needs of our global and diverse customer base.
Find out more about our global diversity and inclusion programs here.
Read more about the experiences and inspirations from these female leaders in Microsoft Asia Pacific:
- Pip Marlow – Managing Director, Microsoft Australia
- Serena Cheung – Director of Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group (SMS&P), Microsoft Hong Kong
- Mira Fitria Soetjipto – Human Resource Director, Microsoft Indonesia
- Sunny J. Park – Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft Korea
- Rukmani Subramanian – Chief Marketing & Operations Officer, Microsoft Malaysia
- Jan Ferguson – Director of Customer & Partner Experience, Microsoft New Zealand
- Siriporn Pajharawat – Director of Developer Experience & Platform Evangelism (DX) Group, Microsoft Thailand
- Jessica Tan – Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore
- Flora Chen – Customer Service and Support Lead, Microsoft Taiwan
- Duong Thi Kim Anh – Human Resource Manager, Microsoft Vietnam