IT IS no secret that behind the success of The SM Store are women -- from the leadership in board rooms to those welcoming shoppers in the stores. In every department and for every function, there is a woman that contributes to the overall success of the company.

Women -- with their nurturing, meticulous, and laser-focused nature -- are the leading forces that resulted in the household brand The SM Store has become today. From the farthest branch in Baguio up in the north to Zamboanga in the south, operations in all 68 branches nationwide are led by women.

To cap off our Women’s Month celebration, we visited The SM Store Visayas’ women leaders who ensure the seamless operations of all seven branches in the region. Let’s hear the insights of these empowered women and how they are empowering the next generation.

Evelyn Lim, vice president for Operations

Evelyn grew up with her mother’s retail store as her playground and learning space. Even at a young age, she was assigned to different jobs in the store, from inventory to facing customers. With this, her mother taught her to believe in herself and take charge of her decisions.

Today, this is also how Evelyn guides the entire The SM Store operations team for Visayas.

“Women are generally empathic, creative, and meticulous. These qualities help us to connect well with our customers and employees, provide trendy merchandise and a welcoming feel, and deliver exceptional financial results,” she said.

Lorna Tenefrancia, assistant vice president for Premium Fashion Retail Design

Taking inspiration from her mentor Evelyn, Lorna has a practical approach in helping make the business grow: she makes sure that her team members are focused on a common goal and trusts them in decision making to boost their confidence.

She underscored that being passive is not an option when things are going well, but mistakes are inevitable.

“Empowered women always look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn, fix and make things better.”

Joffie Mae Alamo, Business Center Operations regional manager

One of the main roles of women in society is providing care. As a working mother and a wife of an overseas Filipino worker, Joffie faces the daily challenge of solely taking care of her kids while looking after the Business Center Operations in Visayas.

Her weapons? Time management and a hardworking team who never fails to support her.

“Women are the epitome of love and sacrifice, which gives us the resiliency -- not just to survive and overcome the unexpected circumstances or difficulties, but to rise above it.”

Ma. Rizalie Samson, senior manager for Human Resources in The SM Store Bacolod

A breast cancer survivor and a human resource practitioner for more than 15 years, Rizalie sees firsthand the challenges faced by women in the workplace. But she also witnessed firsthand how women in leadership can make a difference.

“Women are very nurturing -- bringing a family feel to the workplace. The SM Store empowers women by offering more challenging roles and opportunities for growth in the organization. Opening positions that are traditionally men-dominated gives a boost of confidence to women in the workplace.”

Ma. Jessa Lynn Narciso, Gift Registry advisor in The SM Store Bacolod

With her mom’s passing and her father working abroad, Jessa took the challenging role of being a parent to her siblings. Times can be difficult, but this makes celebrations sweeter, and Jessa personally witnesses how critical and influential women are -- both in going through difficult times and celebrating wins.

“Our gift registry customers are generally women: engaged ladies, soon-to-be moms, grandmothers, and god mothers who make life celebrations more meaningful.”

Gemma Magpusao, Fixed Assets and Supplies manager in The SM Store Iloilo

Growing up in a family of 10 raised mostly by her mother, Gemma took all the lessons she learned from the hardships and applied them in her daily work, and even when she became widowed at 24 years old with two toddlers.

“I learned firsthand from my mom that women can effectively perform tasks that men are expected to do. She was my ultimate role model of a strong and independent woman,” she said.

Being surrounded by empowered women in The SM Store also fueled her to power on.

“Women are more flexible and adept in any kind of jobs thrown at them, whether it be in an executive, managerial, supervisory or rank-and-file capacity. Women at The SM Store are dynamic and resilient to the changing times.” (Sponsored Content)