In this exclusive interview, Maria Grace Yao Uy, co-founder, president, and chief resources officer of Converge ICT Solutions Inc., shares with Telecom Review Asia Pacific her role as a prominent female business leader in the telecom industry and her advice for women in business.
Congratulations on being recognized as one of the prominent female business leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. What led you to this remarkable milestone?
I’m honored to be included in this prestigious list. But I believe it’s really a testament to the strength of the organization, Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. Being in a leadership position in an ICT company, especially one that took many years to grow, has been both fulfilling and challenging. It took a lot of learning and determination for Converge to get to this point. For decades, the telco industry in the Philippines was dominated by two large players.
Thus, our entry into the fixed broadband market took a lot of effort. But my husband Dennis and I were determined to deliver world-class fiber connectivity to the majority of our people. Our dream is to connect the unserved and underserved Filipinos with high-speed, reliable broadband connection which has become a necessity, especially during this pandemic.
You play a fundamental role in Converge ICT Solutions’ growth. How do you manage to wear multiple hats and successfully steer the business to profitability?
I’m also a mother of three, so I know too well that nurturing something valuable takes time, patience, and hard work. There’s no shortcut to it. Getting the right leaders is very challenging because more than just the hard skills and experience, it is important that they have the right attitude and are aligned with our vision. As long as we start with the end in mind and we continue to open ourselves to learn from others and our mistakes, reaching our goals will eventually become a reality.
How does Converge ICT Solutions differentiate itself from other telecom service providers in the Philippines?
We have our undivided focus on fiber. This is our market differentiator, and we pride ourselves on seeing the potential of this technology early on. We ventured into fiber technology at a time that it was still expensive, but we knew we wanted to offer the best connectivity solutions to Filipinos. That risk is reaping rewards now as the source material of fiber has gone down in cost, we brought in innovative technology for its installation (micro trenching) and demand for it shot up due to Filipinos staying at home. The stars aligned for us.
The fixed broadband industry after all is a blue ocean - our fixed broadband penetration rate is still quite low, all players combined, we only have about 20% of the household using fiber connectivity so there is a lot of room for us to grow. Following our aggressive expansion, we are also innovating to serve our customers better. Aside from the technology, we also want to be the best provider in terms of customer service.
As a self-made businesswoman, wife, and mother, how do you keep a balance between your professional and personal lives?
One of my biggest struggles as a working woman and a mother is balancing family and work. I won’t say it’s easy - but it’s definitely doable. Through prioritization and extreme organization, we do the best we can. For me, family still always comes first. But after over a decade of hard work and dedication, Converge and all the people in it have become family to Dennis and me.
What words of wisdom can you impart to aspiring ladies, Filipinas, and tech entrepreneurs out there when it comes to leadership and gender empowerment?
My biggest piece of advice to women in business today is to never be afraid of voicing out your story and opinions. Many women realize too late the ability to stand up for themselves - whether it be due to nurture or the Asian culture.
Raising three independent girls and being President and CRO at Converge, among my goals now is to empower my children and other women to speak out for themselves and make sure their voices are heard. I understand that not everyone has the platform to do so, thus, it is important to help others.