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People: Driving Disruption — Pauline Pangan’s Mission to Bring Businesses to the 21st Century through AF Digital

Founded in 2011, Pauline Pangan had big dreams for AFDigital. For one thing, she wants to be the harbinger of change in the region’s business landscape, encouraging companies and corporations to switch to cloud technology solutions and outside-the-box marketing services. Eight years into running her business, the company has grown to include customer experience and marketing tech consultations, quickly expanding to offices in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively.

Standing at the help, female founder Pauline Pangan lives by the motto – In a hyper-connected world, we live in, if you are not disrupting you are the one getting disrupted!” Pangan, as the leader of the business, has an uncanny ability to rally the entire business behind the company’s mission.

adobo magazine catches up with Pauline as she talks about the beginnings and journey of her company.

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Could you share with us how you found yourself in tech and what led you to pave a path towards starting your own company? 

I have always wanted or known that I want to have my own business. It’s largely because I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. I had no idea how I was going to become one. But I knew deep down I was meant to be one. 

As a kid, I have always loved reading. Early on in life, I was exposed to the books of Robert Kiyosaki, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and John Maxwell’s success books. I made a series of decisions, made a lot of sacrifices along the way, and it led me to the path where I am now. 

When I made the decision to start my company, I met business partners and together, we carefully formed and sculpted the business to be what it is now. The best business partners anyone can ever ask for. Robin is the first person to believe in me. He gave up his successful, promising corporate career and committed full time to the business. He is not just the most passionate, hardworking, tech-genius person, he is also one of the kindest, gentlest person I have come to know. The entire team at AFDigital is so lucky to have him as the CEO. And then there’s John Orrock – every single minute I spend with this man is a privilege I do not take for granted. To call him an industry legend is an understatement. His accomplishments and entrepreneurial brilliance and genius astound me. I still cannot believe that I got so lucky to deserve him as a mentor and friend. He is the most supportive, generous business partner anyone can ever ask for. Also the kindest and most humble human being I have ever met. We probably need an entire article to describe how amazing these 2 are. 

Going back.. the business is what it is today because we were driven by the needs of our customers.

What propelled you to bring your own take on digital transformation to the Philippines? Why not a different country? 

I decided to bloom where I was planted first and foremost. It wasn’t easy. We were way ahead of our time, offering technology to power customer success back in 2011. This led us to expand in Singapore and eventually Australia. But we wouldn’t change that journey because it strengthened and sharpened our value proposition in the market.

What would you reckon is your expertise and how is this distinct in a rapidly evolving landscape? 

We are laser-focused on the business problems we are trying to solve. Overall we are anchored on improving the Customer Experience – by connecting the data thus building a single customer view, automating processes and building smarter, personalized customer journeys. When this is the focus the solution becomes crystal clear. The technology we have today is already solving the business problems of tomorrow. We just need to provide the necessary guidance and strategy to help companies achieve it. We don’t even need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to provide the strategy that worked over and over again. 

What was your primary mission for AFDigital and how has this evolved? 

Every time I meet a client, my focus has always been how can we create value for the business? As a very passionate entrepreneur myself, I have 2 success metrics I want to measure: how much revenue has been earned and how much costs have been saved because of our partnership. The rest is not as important. If we haven’t achieved those 2 things, it means we haven’t done our job as the client’s technology partner. 

With technologies and companies emerging constantly, How does AFDigital intend to continue disrupting and stay ahead of the game? 

We are a team hungry to learn. My team inspires me in so many ways. I am energized by their dedication and brilliance. We know that we won’t earn the trust of our customers and partners unless we put into motion what we have learned and show them how we can create value for their businesses. Our aim is a partnership, to be a trusted adviser. The trust of my clients is what keeps me on my toes as an Entrepreneur. 

What would a typical workday for Pauline Pangan look like?

My day is filled with wonderful meetings, talking to clients about business transformation or talking to the team about how we can make this happen. I am very privileged to be doing something I am very passionate about. 

How do you apply worklife balance and what are some of your stress mitigation strategies/techniques? How do you extend these for your team? 

I am a big yoga fan. I devour learning materials that nourish the soul. This becomes a reminder that we work not just to earn a living. We must use our work as an instrument to love people, I often tell my team. We strive to be better so we can provide better value and serve better— to our clients and partners, to our team and to the community. 

I have good days and bad days, stress and pressure (mostly from myself) get the best of me. Some days, I operate from a place of fear instead of love, from a mindset of lack instead of abundance. So I try to ground myself by counting my blessings, praying, listening to inspirational things and, most importantly, remembering why I am doing what I am doing. It’s an everyday learning. But that is also another reason why we work, so we can become a more conscious, enlightened individual. 

What can you say about the local digital landscape and how much more does the Philippines need to catch up on? 

I am honestly amazed that a lot of enterprise customers are at the forefront of digital innovation. Technology has transformed the way we live. I always tell my clients that in a hyper-connected world we live in if you are not disrupting you are the one getting disrupted. I have seen a huge awakening in the business world. Leaders are taking bold risks to stay ahead of the game. It’s very exciting. 

What does it take for a female founder and CEO in tech to lead effectively and efficiently, especially in your unique situation of operating in two very different countries/cultures (Phils and Australia)?

Lots of self-awareness and quiet confidence. Lots of grit too. Whether the world admits it or not, there’s still a lot of unconscious bias with women in leadership positions, especially in the male-dominated tech industry. I never allowed anything or anyone to slow me down just because I am a woman on a mission. I have always been goal-focused. Like I said, grit. Whatever came my way that looked like a stumbling block, I would find a way to use it as a stepping stone.

 Right now, I want to learn how to access my feminine energy better. To be more inspiring rather than intimidating, to be more encouraging instead of dominating, to be more inviting rather than commanding. It’s an ongoing journey of self-discovery and transformation. 

What’s on the horizon for AFDigital and could you share what’s in the pipeline? 

We are all about constantly expanding our technology capability and geographical expansion. The next market we have our eyes set on is the US and Europe. Ultimately, we strive as a team so we can better serve our customers and partners but more importantly give back to the community. I see business as a great platform to change the world for the better.

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One Comment

  1. The epitome of intellect, drive, compassion and inspiration…..no doubt a dramatic catalyst for both global decency and personal and professional change in the years ahead.

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