Chief Cultural Officer
Push Manila forward
Maureen Valenzuela has taken an unusual path in the industry but has now landed in a fulfilling and rewarding role that she calls her “true calling”. After spending seven years in a financial institution and with no background in advertising, she took a leap of faith when digital agency Propel Manila launched its cultural division in 2017, and went for the role in hopes of fulfilling its longstanding purpose. Five years later, she has built award-winning talent programs, an inclusive team, and a happy and productive work environment.
The recognitions don’t lie. Propel Manila won campaign‘s Global Agency of the Year Awards for Best Culture in 2021 and Best Talent Development Program and Best Place to Work in Southeast Asia, all in 2021. In the last year alone, Valenzuela’s leadership resulted in a 28% increase in employee productivity. a 67 percent increase in thought leadership engagements; and a 275 percent increase in industry awards.
While many talent managers faced unprecedented challenges during The Great Resignation and Covid-related business headwinds, Valenzuela redoubled its efforts, including co-authoring an optimistic management strategy that helped retain all employees, defy spending constraints and reinvest in talent. As a result, no one had to take a pay cut or lose their job. And Propel’s business has thrived because of it: In 2021, 72% of existing businesses were renewed, and 26% revenue growth was reported alongside 23% earnings growth.
Many of Valenzuela’s efforts pre-date the pandemic, resulting in a smooth transition in times of crisis. For example, she pioneered the agency’s mental health program by offering free wellbeing assessments, free access to therapy, and promoting mental health literacy. In 2021, the program was expanded to include employees’ dependents, employees were provided with personal physical well-being trainers and were given access to personal life coaches. This has continued with Mind Day on the last Wednesday of every month when employees have the day off to rest and recuperate.
Other notable achievements include Valenzuela’s introduction of Modern Day holiday privileges, the country’s first-ever 30-day gender reassignment holiday. She also advocated for Propel Manila’s partner HMO and group life insurance providers to include domestic partners as dependents and life insurance beneficiaries. Despite all of these incredible efforts, it is only fitting that Valenzuela’s mantra is “If I can help someone succeed – add value and be valued in the workplace – then I have contributed to this world”.