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5 Inspirational Women Talk About What It Means To Be A "Girl Boss"—And How You, Too, Can Be One!


This Women’s Month, women empowerment platform She Talks Asia organized female-uplifting conversations with a full line-up of international and local speakers for its second Women Leadership Conference themed “She is Self-Made”.

She Talks Asia was founded by four superwomen: award-winning actress and wellness advocate Iza Calzado, editor/model/host/author Sarah Meier, creative entrepreneur/model/host/author Victoria Herrera, and award-winning social entrepreneur and educator Eleanor "Lynn" Pinugu.

For one of the conference's segments, She Talks Asia, together with Avon and YSEAU Seeds for the Future, featured five Global Girl Bosses from different industries to tackle topics about guiding women in achieving their personal and professional goals.



The Global Girl Boss panel discussion, moderated by Janine Ramirez, was composed of Hannah Reyes Morales, the award-winning photojournalist whose works have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, The Guardian, The Lonely Planet, and the National Geographic website; Ani De Leon-Brown, the award-winning triathlete and high-performance coach, the first Filipino woman to qualify and compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and the only Asian in the Timex International Multisports Team; Jen Loong, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Wandersnap, a go-to platform that allows people to reach out to talented photographers around Asia; Felicia Hung-Atienza, president, CEO, and founder of Chinese International School Manila; and Faith Fernandez-Mondejar, director of communications of Avon Cosmetics Inc. Philippines.

Each panel member shared inspiring stories and pieces of advice to goal-oriented women in the room, based on their own personal journeys as a “girl boss."


On Being a Girl Boss

Faith Fernandez-Mondejar: “I understand the whole 'girl power' rationale behind the term 'girl boss,' but never took to heart that I am a girl boss myself. But I believe being a girl boss is about being more hinged and aligned to what I believe doing and what I should be doing. It is about doing the best way I know I can in everything that I love doing, and doing what you love for yourself and the people around you.”

Ani De Leon-Brown: “For me, being a girl boss means responsibility. I teach teens about sports and a big part of that is teaching about leadership and discipline. On top of the training programs, I know that they look up to me in general as a woman as well, as a mom and how I deal with other people. It is important that I take that responsibility in being a role model for them in how I carry myself as a human being.”

Jen Loong: “A girl could mean you are not sure yet in celebrating your strength, and a boss for me, as an entrepreneur, is about being a great team player. For me, being a girl boss is about being stubborn and blindly chasing into the future that you’re so motivated by, even [if] no one else in the world cares about it yet. Being a woman entrepreneur, I see it as being a connoisseur of yin and yang—balancing the drive and motivation with empathy and caring for your team”. 

Felicia Hung-Atienza: “I had been in the corporate world for 10 years, first as a stockbroker working for JP Morgan in New York, followed by a stint at Merrill Lynch in London, then I decided to raise the capital to buy the Philippines branch of Merrill Lynch and create a private bank in Manila. And then when I started my family (with husband Kim Atienza), I took a sabbatical and focused on taking good care of my kids. I realized there was no Chinese international school in Manila, and I thought, why don’t I start one myself? Looking back on my own journey, I can say that being a girl boss is all about believing in yourself, having that confidence that 'I can achieve this.'”

Hannah Reyes Morales: “I never really see myself as a girl boss. I was always just in my own little world, doing the things I know I need to do to get to where I want to be. It was not until I was working with different journalists and getting published in international publications (when I realized that I may be a girl boss). For me, it has always been about thinking about the work, and thinking of my work as my calling. Whether I get rejected or fail, it is all about the work and moving forward.”



On Traits One Should Have to be a Successful Girl Boss

Felicia: “Always center your moral compass. Have the courage and be kind. Set your intentions and actions.”

Faith: “My principle on that is the belief that you have to be always self-aware. It is embracing the mindset that I can and will always be a better version of myself. Looking back on my journey, I was not always kind, passionate, helpful, or energetic, but I believed there is always a chance to be kinder, more passionate, and more helpful each day. There’s always tomorrow to make better choices and decisions. It is also important that we always have the humility to learn. There’s always someone better than you, but that does not mean you can’t be better than yourself. Those two are the best traits one should have: self-awareness and humility."

Ani: “Success in sports requires a lot of endurance, not just physical endurance but resilience from failure. Especially when you literally invest blood, sweat, and tears to achieve a goal. I remember in 2005 SEA Games, I trained long, only to have missed it. I did not achieve the goal I was working hard towards. It was heartbreaking. You will experience a lot of failures, but the sun will always shine. I learned that it is important to learn from your mistakes and have the endurance and resilience from failures.”

Hannah: “I want to share about the concept and quote by Ira Glass. ‘It is all about all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.' I certainly relate to that. You don’t know how to produce it yet, that work that you have in mind. And for me, the only way for you to close that gap is to keep producing work. Have the endurance despite failures. Knowing where you are makes you see that gap, the mistakes, in between the quality of work you want to produce and what you produce now. You just keep forward with endurance, stubbornness, and self-awareness.”



On Failures

Jen: “None of this will last forever—the good, the bad, everything. This too shall pass. The important thing is having that genuine self-care and having that positive self-talk within yourself no matter what happens.”

Faith: “Failure does not define you. There’s always a chance to be better tomorrow.”

Hannah: “I’ve learned to fail better. The time I mope over a failure has become shorter as I grew, and I think the key is learning how to fail better.”

Felicia: “We learn from our failures. I always remind myself that I want to be the heroine in my life, and not the victim.”


Photo courtesy of She Talks Asia