Conversation with ISACA Manila Chapter’s Power-Woman President,
 Isa Ojeda-Enggay

The technology profession has always been known to be led by men. As our world begins to embrace diversity and inclusivity, we gradually see the shift wherein more women are actively leading the development in information and technology.

ISACA Manila Chapter’s SheLeadsTech Committee’s featured ‘Women in Tech’ recognizes Filipinas who bring wealth of contributions to the technology profession. In this first issue, there’s no better power woman to get to know more but our very own ISACA Manila Chapter President, Isabelita Ojeda-Enggay.

Isa, soft-spoken as she may seem, is no ordinary woman. She is the third female president of ISACA Manila Chapter and is the first female president after 15 years. Isa was also awarded as the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) Exam Top Scorer in Asia at Kyoto, Japan last 2009 and was the only female awardee at the event. On top of being the current President of ISACA Manila Chapter, Isa also works as Vice President-Compliance Risk Management Officer for a multinational bank. She has 18 years   of experience in different management disciplines including Audit & Assurance, IT Compliance & Corporate Governance, IT Risk Management & Business Continuity, Information Security, Physical & Facility Security, and Data Privacy. Recently, Isa was recognized as one of the Top 10 Women in Security by the Philippine Women Cyber Alliance (PWCA).

Surprising as it sounds, a career in IT was not her first choice. Isa was a business major back in college. At the beginning, Isa does not have an idea on what the IT profession or career could offer nor was she exposed in the IT industry. Being a business major, she only viewed IT as a business enabler. In her first job as a Management Trainee in a bank, she was first deployed to Internal Audit, then was later transferred to IT Audit. That was when her career in IT began.

According to her, “It wasn’t really planned, it just so happened that I was in that place at that time and I had to adapt and learn what I need to in order to thrive in this career. It was very helpful that I am a member of ISACA.  For me, the certification paved the way to get a structured knowledge around IT because at that time, it was not covered in my college years. So, that’s how I began with my knowledge and learnings.”

As she expands her IT experience and as the IT industry continuously matures, her view has shifted in a 360-degree turn. She said “When I started my IT career, it was around that time when the internet was improving. So previously, it was all static pages and over the years, I’ve seen how the lives of people are changing because of the internet and the use of mobile technology.

As she pursues her career in technology, she took inspiration from great women leaders, as she feels happy and proud seeing women CEOs heading the organizations and leading the business.

Never did Isa feel that she was treated differently because she is a woman. All organizations where she became part of provided equal opportunities for men and women. She strongly believes that as long as you are knowledgeable and capable to deliver results, you will be recognized regardless of gender. However, she admits that there are still times when disparity between men and women specific to the IT profession is observable. She said, “There are a lot more men, for example, in the IT Department especially in the earlier years, but it doesn’t mean that there is gender stereotype. I think it was more around, probably, women were not exposed that much in having a career in technology.

Isa believes that encouraging women to join the IT profession, or any other male-dominated profession, should start at home. Parents should treat their sons and daughters equally, motivate them both to determine what they want to do in life, and give them equal opportunities to showcase their talents and abilities. Because at an early age and with the right guidance, children will gain the confidence needed to interact with people and to do what they aspire to do. Isa further said that children will always bring these values wherever they go.

Isa believes that as a manager, she has a big responsibility to promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. She said, If you are managing people, you have a big responsibility in terms of their career and development from hiring, to developing and to promoting people. You also have an influence as well to promote diversity. As a manager, you must see people based on their capabilities regardless of gender, then, I think you would be contributing in a way, to the balance of diversity in technology.

In the IT industry that is still evidently dominated by men, Isa puts herself forward without fear.  For her, it is not about proving herself to be equally capable as men are, but rather, she is motivated by her own personal responsibility to do her best. With conviction, she emphasized that You have to be happy with what you’re doing, with how you’re contributing. It doesn’t matter what your gender  is as long as you do your best and you live up to your values. Then, people will notice you, and they will recognize your efforts.

Despite having different responsibilities as a leader, mentor, wife, and daughter, Isa still manages to be kept up to date with the fast-changing technology as she exposes herself to these as part of her job and by being an active member and the Chapter President of ISACA. She shared, We have lots of training to offer in ISACA. We give opportunities for people to learn and we have a lot of resources at our hands by being members of ISACA. We just type in and log-in to our system / website and we can get all these knowledge and frameworks available to us. 

Our jobs gives us the ability to be up to date with trends and new developments And of course, I think on a personal level, it’s really how you manage your time as long as you’re able to fulfill your responsibilities into different areas of your life and if you’re learning and still continue  learning, you’re exerting efforts in what you’re doing and giving it your best, then, I think you’d be able to do everything all at once.

As a woman with passion and commitment in the IT profession, Isa sees that women should possess self-determination in order to progress in this field. Women should be certain of their objectives, should not be afraid to challenge things the way they are, and should always be open to learning. Isa further defines success as, Being able to do what

you love to do, being content and happy with what you have done, with what you have accomplished and contributed in however big or little way it is.   As long as you have that self-fulfillment, and you know at the end of the day that you have made a difference and you have lived your values well and you are surrounded by the people you love.  I think I would consider myself successful.”

When asked about how she handles pressure, Isa mentioned that pressure is relative. For her, “ When you’re able to set priorities and you’re aligned with your manager or the board or whoever you need to manage as a stakeholder, as long as they know what you’re working on, what objectives you are trying to achieve and that you are both aligned and contributing to the overall objective of the organization. Then I think that pressure can be managed.”

With regard to her de-stressors, Isa shared that relaxing involves spending time with her family, her cat Sprinkles, and eating. Like most of us, Isa really loves to eat a lot! She also ensures to disconnect from gadgets and other distractions, pausing and leaving everything behind, from time to time. She also exercises, meditates, and does yoga.

Isa believes that there are equal opportunities for both men and women in the technology profession. She observes that there are a growing number of organizations who are more conscious in promoting diversity and inclusivity. Although there is still a big room for improvement, the involvement of women in IT is progressively increasing. Younger women are joining the IT profession. As the technology industry continues to grow, more women are excited in the potential of what the profession could bring to them.

Erin Teague once said that “Being a woman, on a team of all men, means that you are going to have a unique voice. It is important to embrace that.” Isa indeed embraced the uniqueness of her voice, put herself forward without fear and in turn, gained the respect of her colleagues and peers dominated by men.

Power woman indeed!◽️