I was a legacy CGI member, coming aboard when the company bought American Management Systems (AMS). You can tell I think CGI is a great company to work for because, after I took a seven-year break from working to raise my children, I came right back to CGI.
I like just about everything about working here. The sense of partnership implied by the word “member” instead of “employee,” the value we deliver to clients and the company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. As a Filipino-American, I could easily feel marginalized, but I don’t here.
My dad and mom and two sisters were all born in the Philippines. My dad moved to the U.S. in 1971. He worked and lived with a number of men to save money so he could bring the rest of his family over. My mom and my two sisters followed. My sisters at that point I think were three and two. They came with just the money they had in their pockets. My dad always told us, work hard, save your money.
Family always came first, and that is why CGI’s family type of culture has always been so important to me. Growing up, we would sometimes go on vacation, we always asked if we could bring a friend. He never allowed us to, and if we were mad about it, he would remind us that our sisters were our friends. I’m very close to them now, I think because of that.
I joined the Asian American Pacific Islander member resource group, and although it’s a new group that hasn’t become very active yet, my heritage is important to me. I think I know one other Filipino at CGI, and while that’s not a bad thing, I wanted to see who else was out there and what they were thinking, what they were like. I was excited when they created this group.
I think about my family history and culture a lot during Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and in particular this year, anti-Asian violence. I live in in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C, and I don't see that prejudice and violence here. But then you watch the news or see it on social media, and it can be scary. My sons are 24 and 21, and they sometimes have a different way of thinking about things, but one of them lives in Manhattan. New York City is one of the places where anti-Asian violence is most prevalent, so how can I not be worried about it?
I’ve seen reports about people just walking out of a store and getting attacked and beaten for no reason other than being of Asian descent. You hear of people getting attacked on the subway. The pandemic and the isolation that it has forced many people into has certainly worsened it. There were only like eight attacks per year before the pandemic, and then it rose to like 81 a year from 2020 to 2021.
That jump in violence, and because my son lives in Manhattan, it scares me. It’s not like these assaults are pre-planned. They are single acts of violence committed by single perpetrators—it’s not a gang—and to know that that's relevant, that it's real and not just something that you see on social media, is troubling. I hear of things like a 70-year-old woman getting beaten and I put myself in that position. I couldn't even imagine my mother just going grocery shopping and becoming the victim of random act of violence.
On the job
I work in the credit group within CGI USIS in the collections pre-sales department. What I love about the credit group is that they're like a family. When I decided to come back after my hiatus, I was looking at some other financial institutions in this area, but I had remained close with a couple of people at CGI. When I told them I was looking to come back to work, they steered me to some openings here.
I came back to working with the same products, which had evolved over the years, and many of the same people. The same family, still with the underlying values and backgrounds I had loved before.
My typical day might look chaotic to some people, but the thing that I love about sales and credit and collections, is that we are all over the place depending on what client we are trying to sell to, which deal we're closing.
We could be working on six to nine opportunities a month, and each day brings a different mix—who are we presenting to, which RFP (request for information) I am I working on, what are the key win themes and strategies. It's just constant thinking, constant pivoting. I like that organized chaos—it keeps you on your toes. There's not a lot of room for boredom.
Living the values
At CGI, you don't have to have a title to have a voice. You don’t have to be a vice president. I think that there's a lot of respect within the organization; you don’t need to be afraid to speak your mind. There's never a wrong answer; people understand that people have different ways of looking at things. Everybody has a voice.
Still, the work-life balance can be hard to find. Because of my role in sales, if we’re preparing for a client meeting, we might be working all weekend and into the small hours of the night. You might get to your 40 hours by Tuesday on some weeks. But then you just rearrange your schedule to spend time with the family or get your personal things done.
It's not always that easy, but you know when you work with good people who understand where you can add value and when you just need to take a step back—people who know life does not revolve around work even if we do have to put in long hours sometimes—you can find the balance you need.
After work, time for play
My family and I are avid skiers, so we made it out west a couple of times this year. We went out to Vail this past spring break. I'm trying to get one more ski trip in, but at Vail we were skiing in 65-degree weather. But, those are real first-world problems. We like to do a lot of things outdoors.
Recreation can come in civic contributions too. I'm a cheerleading coach for a local high school. I was a cheerleader in college, and I love the sport, but what I love more about it is how it builds self-esteem. I think the high school years are an important time for girls. I have a 17-year-old daughter, my youngest child, and I know girls at that age are impressionable. They may think they give off a lot of self-confidence, but often they're lacking in self-esteem. As adults, we can help them build confidence and understand that self-esteem is not just about how they look or who their friends are.
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.
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