How Filipina became Hyundai cars boss in Philippines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2017 03:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 13 2017 03:55 PM

Hyundai cars are displayed in front of the National Museum of Natural History. Photo from Hyundai Philippines Facebook page.

MANILA - (UPDATE) The woman at the helm of Korean auto-maker Hyundai's Philippine operations said women should not be afraid to challenge men in leadership roles, highlighting how the country is leading Southeast Asia in closing the gender gap.

During her job interview, Maria Fe Perez-Agudo said Hyundai executives asked her: "You are a woman, what do you know about cars?"

Agudo said she "wanted to feel dwarfed" by the query, but she realized that she needed to make men treat her as an equal.

She replied: "You are a Korean, what do you know about the Philippines?"

"That's game-changing for women," she told a roundtable at the ASEAN Business and Investment Forum.

Agudo said women must be educated to level the playing field and must posses what she called CAP, competence, attitude and packaging.

"Education is the number one leveler and penetrating strategy for women in a perceived male dominated industry," she said.

Agudo is leading Hyundai as the auto industry prepares for the rise of self-driving technology and a growing millennial market who would rather patronize ride-sharing services than buy cars.

"This will be the next battlefield for automotive firms," she said.

The Philippines is the Southeast Asian leader in terms of providing equal opportunities for women, said United Nations under-secretary general Shamshad Akhtar.

"Here in the Philippines, we are fortunate there is not much gender issue," said SM Investments vice chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson.