The traditional perception of engineering and construction entails laborious work, making professions related to these fields stereotypically suited for men. As a progressive company, cement manufacturer CEMEX Holdings Philippines has been making conscious efforts in acknowledging the equal value of both women and men in building an innovative future.
Engineer Jaclyn Alferez and Engr. Denise Giron are some of the women breaking gender roles in a male-dominated construction industry. Jaclyn has been with CEMEX since 2006 and Denise was more recently recruited in 2017. Both women engineers have been in and around CEMEX’s plant operations – constantly proving and improving their skills and capabilities amongst men.
Jaclyn had joined CEMEX as part of its Professionals in Development Graduate Program. This meant that she was considered as high potential talent from the beginning and the company has committed to groom her for future managerial positions.
“I was assigned to different positions in the Operations department. I was a Technical Analyst, a Field Engineer, a Central Control Room Operator for kiln, raw mill, cement mill, and crusher, and then as a Shift Laboratory Analyst,” she says.
In the early 2000s, women only comprised about 5 percent of the total population at CEMEX Philippines, Jaclyn recalls. “My skills and capabilities were questioned because I was new to the company and inevitably, because of my gender. I committed to constantly develop my skills so my performance would be at par with the management’s and my teammates’ expectations,” she shares.
Jaclyn put in the hard work and was eventually able to reap the rewards. “I earned positive feedback, and most importantly, the trust once only given to men in a male-dominated field,” she smiles. “I worked for over 12 years at APO Cement. Being in this plant who values the contribution of women greatly boosts my wellbeing and confidence, and I think this holds true for my other female colleagues as well.”
At present, Jaclyn is Quality Assurance (QA) Superintendent at the Cement Operations and Technology of Apo Cement Plant, a subsidiary of CEMEX Philippines located at City of Naga in Cebu.
She is also entrusted with the critical role of Lead Auditor of Internal Audit Team for ISO 17025. This involves planning and implementing audits to ensure that the laboratory operates according to the highest quality standards and that it functions competently and generates valid results.
Denise, meanwhile, began her career as QA Shift Lab Analyst before she became QA Shift Supervisor at CEMEX’s Solid Cement Plant located in Antipolo City, Rizal. Her current responsibility required her to ensure that cement production meet high quality standards without compromising safety at all times.
“As a lady engineer, I operated equipment, did problem solving and supervision of personnel. These are work not typically attributed to women, but I’ve come to realize that voicing a different stand, confidence and being open to learning and communication would effectively break the barrier,” explains Denise.
Denise likewise expressed her appreciation for the gender equality and equal growth opportunities given to everyone at CEMEX. “The workforce culture and synergy gets strength in diversity. It enables the company to think and go beyond boundaries. People development is constantly on the work towards achieving team objectives and overall company goals.”
Both Engr. Jaclyn and Engr. Denise have inspiring pieces of advice to share with aspiring women who dream of excelling in jobs dominated by men.
“You should never stop speaking up,” says Jaclyn. “Say what you really believe in. Your perspective is valuable. If you think you have a great idea, don’t leave without letting yourself be heard. In a room full of men, let them hear a female point-of-view. Go ahead and present a different angle. At the end of the day, the goal is not to compete with men, but with your uniqueness and compassion as a woman, contribute and be a vital part of the organization.”
“Do not be afraid to do your best. You have a chance to change misconceptions on the job. Be a significant figure. Put on your hard hat, wear gloves and work hard. Great work would surpass stereotype limitations, regardless of gender or where you come from,” emphasizes Denise.
CEMEX has a rich history of improving the welfare of those it serves through innovative building solutions, efficiency advancements, and efforts to promote a sustainable future in more than 50 countries worldwide. In the Philippines, CEMEX subsidiaries Apo Cement Corporation in Cebu and Solid Cement Corporation in Rizal produce and market a broad product mix of building solutions. These cement manufacturing plants carry the well-established cement brands Apo and Rizal. More information is available at www.cemexholdingsphilippines.com