As the world changes with all the digital disruption, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, there is one startup that embraces all these. With its tech-driven CEO and co-founder, Gina Romero empowers women through technology and makes sure that no woman is left behind.
I’m talking about Connected Women, a global community of tech-powered women whose aim is to empower women through the use of technology, enabling them to have a location-independent lifestyle by means of remote work.
As we celebrate International Women’s Month, find out how Gina’s passion for women empowerment and entrepreneurship came about, as well as upcoming events and plans for women and the future of work through this interview.
Who is Gina? What is she passionate about and what problems of today does she like solving and what inspired her to do this?
I consider myself an unconventional entrepreneur, a community builder and a passionate advocate for technology and women’s empowerment. As an entrepreneur, I love to solve problems. I’m most excited by inclusive innovation, and how we can use technology to create a positive impact.
I’ve had a very weird and wonderful life which resulted in an unusual perspective. Some of the things I’ve done include pig farming, flying as a British Airways cabin crew member, co-founding an IT company with my husband and working as an operations director for a UK women’s business network.
All these things seemed so random and disconnected, but as Steve Job’s said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards”. I realise now that everything in my life was relevant and significant, and led me to the work we do at Connected Women.
What was your journey like? Please describe as well that a-ha moment when you knew your plans for Connected Women might actually become a success. Tell us the story behind this.
I think I’m the type of person who is visionary first and strategic second. I doubt that anyone in my team would call me a planner. But I am clinically deliberate! I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life building women’s communities and running programs focused on creating better career opportunities for women because I believe that by empowering women, we can create significant change.
Connected Women is driven by the vision to improve the lives of women everywhere, one woman at a time, and ensuring that no woman is left behind. That’s a huge mission, and we’ve only just begun, but I believe that if we work tirelessly to achieve a meaningful goal, then every day is a success.
Tell us about that biggest challenge you had to face, which also made you who you are today.
Like many people, I spent a lot of my life struggling to try to find a sense of purpose and belonging. I have a very unusual background and moved around a lot, and think that can create a sense of disconnect. My mum was an overseas Filipino worker in the UK back in the 70s and married my dad, the son of European immigrants who were wartime refugees. I grew up in the UK surrounded by wealth, living in mansions where my parents worked as domestic staff. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend one of the most exclusive schools in the UK, a boarding school where I was probably the only student who came from a humble background.
We moved back to the Philippines when I was in first-year high school and I experienced being a ‘balikbayan’ family that was considered wealthy by most. Going from “poor” to “rich” was a jarring experience, especially during my teenage years. Even though my height was confusing, in the UK I was one of the shortest in my class, in the Philippines I was one of the tallest!
When I was 16, my family lost our business in Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991. I watched my parents and many others suffer the devastation of a natural calamity. I also saw the incredible resilience and humanity found in communities struck with disaster.
At age 25, my first marriage fell apart after my (former) husband had a near-fatal car accident and suffered a serious brain injury while I was three months pregnant with our son. I experienced the inexplicable grief of coming to terms with the loss of someone who did not die.
These experiences helped me become a more compassionate person because I know what it is like to lose everything. I’m also a strong person because I know that no matter how hard things are, there is always hope. Most importantly, I learned to have compassion for myself and to have the humility to accept that I am a work in progress.
What was the best advice that you received in terms of marketing and business?
One of my favourite quotes is by Zig Ziglar, “Don’t become a wandering generality. Be a meaningful specific”. I try to practice that both in business and in life. I think marketing is all about amplification, and branding is all about authenticity. I believe that having the courage to be authentic, as a person and as a company, is the most important first step to being a good marketer. The rest is analytics.
March is International Women’s Month. Anything coming up for Connected Women?
Yes! We have our first Connected Women Conference themed: “Women and the Future of Work”! The conference aims to showcase and open opportunities for women to create meaningful careers, by helping them engage in technology and adapt to the changing landscape of work.
We’re super excited as we are bringing together over 30 of the brightest minds, boldest disruptors and most inspiring influencers to share their perspective on women’s economic empowerment in the Future of Work. It will be held in Shangri-La at the Fort in BGC on March 25th. You can get your tickets here.
When it’s all over, how would you like to be remembered?
I hope people remember what I stood for.