A Celebration of Women and the Heroines of Microsoft Philippines

 |   Andres Ortola, Country General Manager, Microsoft Philippines

Graphic showing icons of women

Happy International Women’s Month! There is no denying the impact that women hold in today’s day and age. Whether they are running the boardrooms of businesses, teaching in our classrooms, leading our communities, taking care of our homes, or fostering our families, their influence is firmly established as fundamental in our society. This month, Microsoft is proud to join hands with the global community in celebrating that impact and promoting its growth in the years to come.

As a son, husband and a father to my daughter, I’ve always been amazed by the innate ability of women to balance and traverse their many roles and obligations as mothers, wives, community leaders and everything else. Without the women of the world and their unique, inherent strengths, the world as we know it today would simply not be the same.

Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to travel all over the world – from Europe, to the Middle East, to Africa, and eventually to Southeast Asia, where I took on the role of being the Philippines’ Country General Manager. Spending a little more than a year in the Philippines, I’ve come to recognize that beyond their warmth and hospitality, Filipinas are naturally strong and culturally empowered. It’s been an inspiration to see how this comes to the fore in all sectors of society and enterprise—whether in politics, education, social good, or business—women do not shy away from the spotlight. They refuse to take a backseat in confronting national issues, and they are not afraid to pursue their ambitions or passions. This is true in Philippine society, as well as it is in Microsoft Philippines.

This is a recognition and celebration, of two leaders in our organization. In addition to serving as role models to their fellow female professionals and aspiring leaders, they also embody the progress that we wish to intensify, in our company, in our industry and on the entire global community.


Isang stands by a roadside, celebrating as a bike race ensues behind her

I have always felt empowered, valued, and respected regardless of my gender. Development opportunities are made available to everyone as long as they fit the role.” – Clarissa “Isang” Segismundo, Microsoft Philippines’ Education Programs Lead.

“With my role, I am given the opportunity to transform the lives of every Filipino teacher and student through equitable and accessible education – and that is through the magic of technology”, she shares, as head of inclusive learning programs development.

For years, Isang has been helping Microsoft create this magic in classrooms all over the Philippines. With Microsoft’s mandated access to 750,000 teachers and over 83 percent of the nation’s students through the Department of Education (DepEd), Isang takes the lead in pushing for inclusive teaching and learning, increasing ICT literacy among the youth, and enabling teachers to break traditional learning models.

Microsoft’s digital classroom program was an innovation that pushes conventional teaching to the future. Th education team innovates by shifting classrooms to digital spaces and through capacity-building programs which resulted to a community of Microsoft Education Ambassadors. These ambassadors are a group of passionate individuals who aim to empower educators and students for the future world of work. To date, there are close to 2,000 Microsoft education ambassadors who have trained over 300K teachers nationwide on how technology can be used to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, logical reasoning, creativity, and innovation in the classroom. They were able to support education in ways that could not have been possible just a few years ago.

Microsoft champions inclusivity by expanding programs to support women in the tech industry. One program Isang is especially proud of is “DigiGirlz” which gives female learners opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. It is our hope that through such efforts, we can develop the next generation of female leaders in the tech industry.

Isang and her team continue to support education institutions by providing them a platform and the skills to help them transition to a virtual classroom, in response to COVID-19. Teaching and learning from home is a big change for most. With this big shift to online learning in the country, she and her team continue to innovate, creating programs that will ensure faculty and teachers stay connected while students remain engaged and motivated.

When asked to give advice to women who want to follow in her footsteps, Isang said, “Stay authentic, know your purpose, and never compromise what matters the most to you.

Joanna addresses the audience at the PH Public Sector Forum: Asesnso Pilipinas

“Empathy, social intelligence and compassion are inherently strengths and traits that most women like myself can easily tap into, and I find these critical to building trust and confidence with my team.” – Joanna Velez Rodriguez, Microsoft Philippines’ Public Sector Director

As Microsoft Philippines’ Public Sector Director, Joanna Rodriguez is in-charge of driving national standards and policy and promote technology adoption and innovation in the public sector. On top of 12 and a half years of working experience with Microsoft, she also brings 10 years of government experience to the table, to spearhead our organization’s thrust of partnering with government agencies and support the delivery of efficient citizen services.

For Joanna, empathy guides her in dealing with different clients, leading her team, and creating positive outcomes, as she continues to establish herself in the tech industry. As Joanna and her team spearhead the digital transformation of the country, empathy and compassion serve as a guiding voice in reaching the underrepresented and the marginalized.

For example, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Microsoft have recently agreed to share infrastructure, resources, and competencies towards digital transformation, cybersecurity, and social impact projects. Led by Joanna and her team, Microsoft will work closely with DICT to raise citizen participation by reinforcing computer-based training courses for government leaders and citizens, exchanging information and best practices in protecting data privacy, and moving citizen services and government information to online, cloud-based platforms. In line with passage of the Ease of Doing Business Act, we see innovation and technology adoption as the main driver of streamlining the delivery of services.

Successful partnership stories are victories shared by all members of the Microsoft team, regardless of ethnicity, social status, or gender. Speaking of the office, Joanna says, “Women-focused initiatives help create the community of support in Microsoft. And I absolutely believe that there is equal opportunity to advance career and development goals for everyone in this company.”

Today, in response to COVID-19 and as she continues to oversee the overall Public Sector business of Microsoft Philippines, she is also orchestrating efforts to quickly enable remote work capabilities in many government agencies, to support emergency response and critical communications during this public health crisis.

Advising the next generation of women leaders, Joanna counsels: “don’t be afraid to speak your mind, bring your own unique strengths to the table, stay true to yourself and your values and always be learning something new.”

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. At the heart of that, lies the underlying belief, that no one is too far from the point or less able to create positive and lasting outcomes for to their communities.

Across the globe, wherever you look, you will find stories like Isang’s and Joanna’s. We recognize each and every one of them and celebrate them, not just today or this month, but in all that we do as a company. Happy International Women’s Month!