Gerlie Saura – The PWA Woman of the Year 2020 – 2021 Award winner
PWA is specially dedicated to women. It is made by outstanding professional women, for women. This month, PWA Community celebrates the PWA’s Woman of the Year Award winner!
Gerlie Saura is a senior professional with 15+ years of international experience, passionate about impactful initiatives that drive growth for both people and organizations while staying on top of business challenges and innovative trends. She is the elected PWA President for the 2020 – 2022 season but has served various positions in the Board of Directors.
PWA’s success as an Association is due to the participation of its members: professional women who, over the years, have contributed to its growth, its credibility, and reputation. Each woman, through her membership, has helped to shape a special trace for a new member to follow contributing to PWA’s growth. PWA Woman of the Year Award is a way to highlight the special contribution of that committed member to the association. Traditionally, the successful candidate receives a silver award plaque, public appreciation at our June’s Summer Party, testified by a special toast and celebration cake in her honor, among other special prizes such as the opportunity to be featured in our Website and Newsletter in the September issue. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, last year we couldn’t organize the PWA Summer Party so, in the middle of the pandemic times, PWA decided to dedicate this month’s cover page to the PWA Woman of the Year 2020 winner: Gerlie Saura.
I am sure that you all know Gerlie already, as she has been elected PWA President for this season, but maybe new PWA members want to know more about her. Therefore, let me reveal some details of her successful life. From the conversation we had over lunch, it soon became interesting to me to ask more about Gerlie’s culture and origins. She is one of three siblings with an elder brother and younger sister, who grew up in a military environment in the Philippines. An archipelago of many beautiful islands with only about one-third of the islands inhabited. In case you are in need of a geography refresher, the Philippines, named like this to honor Spain’s then-ruling monarch, King Philipp II, are located in Southeast Asia and its capital is Manila.
Digging more about her origins, Gerlie shared that she counts on her mother’s support and follows her as a role model of a strong, courageous woman who had made sacrifices for her children after the death of her father. Surely Gerlie learned important teachings, advice, and character traits from her mother while giving priority to her family and strength to her sense of responsibility towards them.
Actually, the family has a very important place in her life. Gerlie has always desired to have a loving husband and her own children, and her wish was fulfilled. However, it was not only luck to drive her to this accomplishment, but it was also a result of determination and hard work that gave her the gift of a stable marriage life founded in love. “Purpose is necessary to drive us”, she stands. In fact, it was love itself the motivation that drew her to Italy after a value-added working experience period in Dubai.
Dubai conquered her with its multicultural environment, shining opportunities, and the challenge of living alone in another country just after completing all her studies in the Philippines, where she attended the De La Salle University – Dasmariñas for her Bachelor of Arts – Major in Community Psychology. Dubai helped Gerlie to mature as a person and develop as a professional, giving her the opportunity to build a wide network of contacts while meeting highly respectable business leaders who imparted positive influence in her professional path. Dubai was the city of her professional start-up at the Consulate General for the Republic of Panama and Rotary Club Foundation, from which she was recognized by a Service Award in 2009 during the fundraising Gala for the benefit of children with cardiac diseases.
While we are on the topic of helping others and volunteering, Gerlie stands that she has a passion for helping others, for giving back, because through this she is able to influence others while getting more content with herself, while meeting like-minded people who want to leave a positive footprint. Involved with various associations, in the past, she was also the President of the Filipino Women’s Council in Italy. She also joined PWA as soon as she arrived in Rome, eager to meet professional women peers with a preference for service and human relationships. Now after 8 years, she became PWA President hoping to inspire other members willing to emulate her.
At PWA, the required work behind the scenes to bring you all the high-level events and activities is really huge and professional. Therefore, as soon as the candidates join the election process, participate in brainstorming sessions to determine the Theme of the Year. During these sessions, Gerlie guided the selection process of this year’s PWA Theme of the Year in her leadership style, which is – in her words – “transformational”. After the summer’s working sessions, we have launched the Thriving Through Transformation theme, and since September, we have work creating, building, and transforming the PWA TEAM work in service for the entire PWA Community.
Speaking about leadership, Gerlie Saura is known as a relationship-focused leader, her professional mission is Empowering People, Transforming Business Education she works with Rome Business School formerly as Head of Executive Education and now as International Business Development Manager responsible for developing existing & potential partnerships, and international relations to leverage business development opportunities. Always attracted to the diplomatic world due to her travel ambition both for business and pleasure, she fondly remembers exciting holiday trips made to Mexico, Dubai, and Philipines. Undoubtedly, she is always ready for a new adventure with hope and passion in her heart, ready to conquer her place at the workplace, but maintaining always balance in her life, because family and relationships are the basics for her.
PWA could reserve a prestigious place for every woman, but a clear vision and hard work are essential for accomplishing challenging goals. Having had lived and worked abroad, makes me agree with her on the importance of combining these two elements in order to gain a position in a new workplace. It is not magic! This is why Gerlie insisted that it took her eight years of active service, dedication, and hard volunteering work to be where she is: “It took me eight years inside PWA to be where I am now. I have held almost all the positions at PWA’s Board and dedicated time and efforts to create value for PWA. I’d experienced the obstacles that most of the PWA Board members are facing, so I believe to be able to help Board members overcome those difficulties”. Gerlie felt always encouraged by her passion to help and empower others. Would you like to follow her steps inside PWA?
PWA Woman of the Year Award was born to infuse the international group spirit in PWA, to enhance multiculturalism with the will to learn new things and meet new people, striving to strengthen the bond between individual fellow members and raise the expectations of professional women in Rome who approach our Association. Nominations are awarded to women who have distinguished themselves in particular professional skills important to the growth and reputation of PWA.
It is all about The People We Are, so all members are automatically potential Women of the Year: leave your imprint by participating in the PWA events and activities, dedicate your writing skills to enrich our Website or Newsletter… give time, effort, and heart to bringing in more members, inform others about PWA initiatives, or contribute to how PWA is seen by the community by procuring a partnership. Voted by popular consensus, nominations for the PWA’s Award are open.
Now, let’s celebrate our 2020 – 2021 winner, Gerlie Saura, who shares a message with all the PWA members, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2021: “Remember to be strong, to be mission ready and step up. The International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate but there is still so much work to do”.
Today is Gerlie’s big moment. Maybe next time, it could be yours. Three cheers for the winner!
By Luisa Lopez