It Pays to Be Assertive
Lalaine Chu-Benitez was presenting her magazine to an advertiser who asked her this question.
It was precisely this attitude that led to the creation of Chu-Benitez’s international, Dubai-based publication, Illustrado. Her goal was to combat stereotypes and raise the morale and the image of the Filipino woman in the Middle East by celebrating their achievements and providing empowered role models.
“I have experienced stereotyping and discrimination at different levels. Among them, I distinctly remember being told by one of my colleagues, that I was getting paid less than my Caucasian colleagues because ‘Filipinos have a poor economy and so we need less money.’
Chu-Benitez said her main challenge was proving she had the confidence and social skills to thrive in a high-profile job. She knew that in order to succeed, she would have to be an expert in her field (marketing). So she worked her way up in her career, took postgraduate studies, sharpened her public speaking skills, gained confidence by getting out of her comfort zone and interacting more with people, and had a mentor who helped her grow.
“We should always project ourselves as equals, never inferior or less—confident, professional and aware of the value we bring,” said Chu-Benitez. “I had to…really amp up my aggressiveness to make sure that I was heard, and for them to understand that I meant business.”
“Loving what you do and unusual longevity in a company will get you somewhere. You can’t always get ahead just on intelligence, creativity, hard work and commitment. It pays to be assertive and make sure people understand that you are not a doormat.”