MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Innovative cybersecurity and resilient network are key pillars of PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) in serving their customers. Working 24/7 behind the scenes are women technology specialists who have dedicated their expertise to elevate the experience of Filipinos.
In a world where almost everything has become digital, a secured network has become a must. For Cyber Security Incident Response Team Head Katrina Atienza, it’s no easy feat. “We predict, prevent, detect, and respond to cybersecurity incidents attacking PLDT and Smart 24/7, 365 days a year. We contain threats to make sure that PLDT and Smart’s network is a secure and safe environment,” Katrina said. This effort led to PLDT and Smart fending off more than 182 million cyber-attacks and attempts to breach their digital assets as of end-2022.
“It’s not a nine-to-five job. Our enemies, they don’t sleep. And we are fighting these hackers trying to steal our information, steal our data. So, I am really proud that I belong here. We’re not only securing PLDT and Smart, but we’re also securing communities,” she added.
Engineers Zyla Miguel and Chanty Salas are part of the critical network field services of Smart that support, restore, maintain, troubleshoot, and ensure that sites are up on a day-to-day basis. When Odette struck Palawan in 2021, Engineer Zyla was part of the team who monitored, supported, and deployed assistance to those on-ground, to successfully restore the services of the network during the aftermath of the disaster.
But being a woman in a highly male-dominated industry was not entirely a walk in the park for the network engineers. Zyla shared that there was an instance where she was disapproved on a role as field engineer because she’s a woman. “They said that the possibility of me being on field is low because my needs as a woman might affect my efficiency on site.”
For Chanty, her job made her discover plenty of things about herself. “During my younger days, I was someone that you would call ‘kikay’ that even my classmates way back in college could not believe that I was assigned to do fieldwork,” she shared.
“But I like the fact that I am a woman working in an industry that is mainly dominated by men. I know that the weight of the responsibilities are heavy, but that makes me feel stronger and capable of accomplishing anything in this life. Although some of our activities require physical strength like lifting heavy spares during trouble isolations, as a woman engineer, that doesn’t limit my capability in restoring our sites. We contribute by working hard to equip ourselves with in-depth knowledge in commissioning, integration, and other technical ways,” Chanty added.
Empowering women in the workplace
Gender equality is high in the agenda of the group’s Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives, as an equal opportunity employer in the country. In 2021, PLDT and Smart became the first Philippine telcos that signed up as members of the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), to achieve large-scale organizational transformation through evidence-based strategies and best practices in the workplace.
“It doesn’t matter what your gender is, or how you identify yourself, as long as you have the heart, passion, and commitment,” Katrina shared. For her, the struggle as an expert in a highly technical field comes from within. “It’s really me questioning myself – am I right for this job? So, it’s about having the confidence in yourself. Take one step at a time and give your best every day. It will reflect in your character and output.”
Zyla added, “It makes me proud, sometimes when we pass by buildings or sites, I can say, ‘Uy, yung site na ‘yan, naakyat ko na ‘yan!’ All opportunities are open for us. We are not excluded because of our gender, especially in our field, where the number of women is few. It felt like I always belonged.”
“I am grateful to work in a company who recognizes the impact of women’s contribution in the workplace. We are given opportunities to express our abilities and skills. Our strengths — which can make an impact to the team — are highly emphasized. Learning from successful people has enabled me to approach situations with alternative perspectives and a better understanding in my chosen career,” Chanty said.