In light of Mother’s Day weekend, Hann Resorts recognizes that being a mother goes beyond biological ties. It extends to nurturing, guiding, and supporting individuals in various aspects of life. Meet Ms. Agnes “Neki” Liwanag, the Vice President for Corporate Planning, Development and Compliance at Hann Philippines,Inc.
She is a motherly figure in her division even though she is not an actual mom. She considers her team as her children. She takes pleasure in seeing them grow and succeed under her guidance. Most of her team members have been with her for many years since they joined the company during its early days. Through her leadership, she has watched them develop and blossom into capable professionals. “They grew up from the ranks, so they grew up with me,” Neki explains. “I taught them everything I know, my experiences, and I shared everything with them. That’s why they are my children, despite the absence of a biological connection.”
The analogy of teaching a child how to walk and guiding them through their teenage years resonates with her. As they matured, they became independent, capable of handling responsibilities without her constant presence. Neki takes pride in their growth and believes that her role as a motherly figure was instrumental in shaping their success.
When asked about her most memorable experience with her team, she laughs and jokingly responds, “Aside from scolding them?” She reflects on the stages of their growth from Widus Hotel and Casino to Hann Philippines, Inc. She acknowledges that while she may have a reputation for being firm, her intention has always been to guide and support her team members. She emphasizes that the instances when she had been frustrated were driven by valid reasons. Her team members are aware of this and appreciate her guidance as it contributes to their personal and professional development. She treasures the moments when they demonstrate their understanding and learn from their mistakes.
For Neki, a wonder mom is someone who can effectively balance various aspects of life. While acknowledging her own struggles in achieving this balance, she strives to support and give equal treatment to her team members. “A wonder mom is a combination of everything – personal, financial, career growth, emotional, and social aspects,” Neki states. She believes that no wonder mom can be perfect, as imperfections are inherent in every individual.
When asked if she considers herself a wonder mom, she modestly admits, “I think so.” She acknowledges that her time is not equally distributed among all her team members but reassures them that she is there whenever they need her the most. Just like a mother with multiple children, she prioritizes her presence based on their individual needs. She values one-on-one interactions and dedicates specific time addressing their concerns. Despite her demanding schedule, she ensures that she is accessible and supportive when her team members require her attention.
Neki’s own mother serves as her inspiration for a wonder mom. She admires her mom’s ability to balance a successful career while fulfilling her motherly duties at home. She inherited her mother’s strictness, instilling punctuality and discipline among her team members. She credits her mom for shaping her values and work ethic, which she now brings to her role as the Vice President for Corporate Planning, Development and Compliance.
As for her previous jobs and how she ended up at Widus, she had quite a diverse professional journey. Before joining Widus in 2007, she worked as a bank teller. She progressed to become a Regional Administrator for the bank’s Central Luzon Regional Office, where she worked with multiple branches. She spent five years in the banking industry before moving on to a private Korean company, where she served as a marketing supervisor in the field of IT and e-commerce for less than a year.
Following her time at her previous job, she had the opportunity to work for Malacañang as Presidential Staff Officer VI, serving under Congressman Renato Diaz, who was the Presidential Assistant for Central Luzon at that time. Upon the conclusion of Congressman Diaz’s term, she found herself in a position of transition as her role was co-terminus with his. It was during this period when she received a call from her former boss, who had already joined Widus.
She was intrigued when she met Mr. Han, the Chairman and CEO of Widus for the job interview. The unconventional setting, which was in his villa, made her pause and question whether she should pursue working for him. However, she was impressed with Mr. Han’s vision and big plans, so she decided to give it a try and see where it would lead. She started as a Sales & Marketing Officer for the Time Shares and Service Residences of Widus.
Over the years, her role at Hann evolved as the company grew. When her previous boss resigned, she took on additional responsibilities as the Sales & Marketing Manager, overseeing the marketing team and was also assigned to assist Mr. Han’s various administrative requirements. As the company expanded, she embraced new challenges and opportunities. She became the Business Development Manager and Executive Assistant to the President, working on various construction and expansion projects, including obtaining the casino license.
She attained the role of Director for Business Development & Executive Assistant to the President in 2015, when she spearheaded the Project and Administrative Department, as well as the Compliance Department. Recognizing her dedication and expertise, she received a promotion in 2016 to Assistant Vice President for Business Development & Executive Assistant to the President, overseeing a broader range of departments including the Executive Office, Project and Admin, Compliance, Audit, and Marketing.
Continuing her upward trajectory, in 2017, her position evolved into Assistant Vice President for Corporate Planning and Compliance/Executive Assistant to the President. During this time, she also took on the responsibility of establishing Hann Foundation Inc. (formerly known as Widus Foundation Inc.) for which she is the Executive Director until today.
In January of this year, she was promoted to Vice President for Corporate Planning, Development, and Compliance, with the responsibility of overseeing and ensuring the successful completion of Hann’s new luxury development in New Clark City, Tarlac – the Hann Reserve, which also requires her to establish the company’s own Construction Department.
Reflecting on her journey, she has been with Hann Philippines Inc. for 16 years, making her the longest-standing employee. She has witnessed and contributed to the company’s growth, from a small team of fewer than 10 people for the entire company, to her own division alone with 60 people, set to expand to more than a hundred within the year.
As for balancing being motherly and being a boss or leader, she finds it essential to draw a clear line between the two roles. She believes in letting her team learn from their mistakes and take ownership of their actions, just like a mother would. However, she also maintains the position of a boss or rather a leader, ensuring that objectives are met and that the team operates efficiently. It’s crucial for both parties to understand that any criticism or feedback is about the job and not a personal attack. After addressing an issue, she encourages her team to move forward and let go of any negative feelings.
Regarding her career goals as an executive, she is currently contemplating her next steps. She remains open to new opportunities that may arise and continues to seek growth and development in her professional journey.
In her free time, she prioritizes spending quality time with her family. In the past, she used to be very sociable and involved in various social groups, such as the Junior Chamber International (JCI) and other organizations. However, as responsibilities increased and time became limited, she shifted her focus to spending more time with her family.
She loves to go on vacations or trips with her friends or visit her family in the United States. Traveling allows her to unwind, explore new places, and create lasting memories.
When it comes to hobbies, she admits that she has to let go of many of them due to her busy schedule. In the past, she enjoyed playing badminton with friends, but now her hobbies revolve around self-care and relaxation.
During her “me time,” she prefers to stay at home, watch shows on Netflix, read a book, or simply focus on personal self-care. Visiting the spa or salon is something she truly enjoys and considers a form of rejuvenation. If there’s any message or life advice, she would like to share with other wonder moms, particularly in a professional context, it would be centered around self-care. While it is essential to focus on your career and achieve your goals, it’s equally important not to neglect your physical and mental well-being. Remember that work will always be there, and stress is inevitable, but compromising your health should never be an option. Take the time to find balance and prioritize self-care, ensuring that your health doesn’t suffer because of work-related stress. Choose your battles wisely and learn to let go of unnecessary stressors. Take conscious efforts to separate work and personal life, allowing yourself the time and space to relax and recharge. At the end of the day, your well-being matters, and it is through a healthy balance that you can truly thrive in both your personal and professional life.