In celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I talk about what it means to be a Filipina project manager. From cultural norms to the meaning of hospitality, I believe so much of my culture is intertwined with my success as a PM. Check out the video version below or scroll to read more!
If there is one word to describe Filipinos, it’s hospitable. Filipinos are renowned for their hospitality. Whether you are a tourist visiting one of our many islands or a family friend looking for a warm meal, Filipinos will go out of their way to roll out the red carpet to ensure you feel welcome. Hospitality is embedded in the hearts of every Filipino. It’s this natural ability to make guests feel welcome that makes Filipino culture outstandingly distinct. It is also why this trait lends well to being an effective project manager.
The role of a project manager goes beyond planning, organizing, and directing the completion of projects. There is another layer that deals directly with people. According to ProofHub, project managers are generally responsible for the completion of a company’s most important projects, and as such, they need to have excellent leadership skills, coordination abilities, and motivational skills. This includes leading a team and influencing them to achieve a common goal, often without direct reporting authority.
When you consider the common traits of an influential project manager, two words come to mind: empathy and leader. In order to lead, you must know what motivates your team to march toward a common goal. Filipinos are hospitable because we care about people. So much so that we will sacrifice our own comfort and well-being on behalf of the feelings of others. I can’t think of anything more altruistic than this notion. When you couple this practice with the role of a project manager, you get a combination for success.
So why is it that we don’t see more Filipinos in project management-type roles? According to Zippier, Asians are the third most common ethnicity among project managers at 8.1% compared to 70% white and 12% Hispanic or Latino. Even more interesting is the fact that only one-third of project managers are female. Perhaps it’s because Filipinos are driven to take up actual hospitality roles. Or cultural norms play into Filipinos’ belief that the best way to help others is to take up roles that specifically fill this need, like nurses or doctors. Whatever the case may be, I hope that even though I find myself, once again, in the minority, that there are Filipinas out there listening to this podcast who are making the same connection that I have.
I never considered how my culture and beliefs would have a direct impact on my ability to lead as a project manager until I started to recount my greatest achievements. Most involve putting the needs of others or the project over my own, like the many countless hours I have spent problem-solving other people’s problems because if it impacts the team or the project, then it is my problem, too. Or my passion to find more efficient ways for teams to execute their work because in doing so, it alleviates any burden or pressure from the team that plays an important role in completing a project. It’s this type of thinking and doing that weighs into my strengths as a project manager. And I can’t help but be proud knowing that my culture has a lot to do with it.
Project manager or not, I hope you enjoyed this special edition of The Everyday PM Podcast celebrating AAPI Heritage month. Until next time... Mabuhay!
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Ann Campea, MSPM, MPH, PMP
Director of Project Management for One & All
Certified Program/Project management professional with over a decade of experience in product development, consumer goods, tech, and healthcare industries.