Staff Reporters
Nov 8, 2022

Women to Watch 2022: Maureen Valenzuela, Propel Manila

Valenzuela’s untraditional, defiant approach to inculcating culture in the workplace has led to stunning employee satisfaction scores and multiple industry awards.

Women to Watch 2022: Maureen Valenzuela, Propel Manila
Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms

Maureen Valenzuela

Chief culture officer
Propel Manila

Maureen Valenzuela has had an unusual trajectory in the industry, but has landed now in a fulfilling and rewarding role that she calls her “true calling”. After spending seven years in a financial institution and having no background in advertising, she took a leap of faith when digital agency Propel Manila established its culture department in 2017. Having no experience in talent management, organisational development, or HR operations, she bit the bullet and went for the role with the hope of carrying out her long-time purpose. Five years later, she’s managed to build award-winning talent programmes, an inclusive team, and a happy and productive workplace 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 Programme, as well as Best Place to Work in Southeast Asia, all in 2021. Last year alone, Valenzuela’s leadership led to a 28% increase in employee productivity, a 67% increase in thought-leadership engagements, and a 275% increase in industry awards.

While many talent managers faced unprecedented challenges during The Great Resignation and Covid-related business headwinds, Valenzuela doubled up on efforts including co-authoring a bullish management strategy that helped to keep all employees, defy spending restraints, and invested back in talent. As a result, no one took a pay cut or lost their jobs. And Propel’s business flourished because of it: In 2021, 72% of existing businesses were renewed, and 26% top-line revenue growth was recorded alongside 23% profit growth.

Many of Valenzuela’s efforts existed pre-pandemic, leading to a smooth transition during a time of crisis. For instance, she pioneered the agency’s mental health programme by providing free wellbeing exams, free access to therapy, and promoting mental health literacy. In 2021, the programme was extended to employees’ loved ones, employees were provided personal trainers for physical wellness, and were given access to personal life coaches. This continued with Mind Day every last Wednesday of the month where employees get the day off to rest and recuperate.

Other notable achievements include Valenzuela's introduction of ‘Modern Day’ leave privileges, the country’s first-ever 30-day gender reassignment leave. Plus, she lobbied for Propel Manila’s partner HMO and Group Life Insurance providers to include domestic partners as dependents and life-insurance beneficiaries. Through all of these incredible efforts, it’s only fitting that Valenzuela’s mantra is: “If I can help someone thrive—to add value and to be valued in the workplace—then I’ve contributed something to this world”.

Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms


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