How this Filipina is leading the charge in the insurance scene

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — Bank boardrooms used to be dominated by men in suits, but this charming Filipina leader has broken through that glass ceiling and continues to dominate the field for decades now.

Nina Aguas, executive chairman of Insular Life, shared what she had to do to rise to the top — not just in the country, but globally.

Aguas has been in the financial industry for over 30 years now, taking ranking positions at Citibank, ANZ, UnionBank, and most recently, at InLife where she served as chief executive officer for two years.

All this she managed while staying classy, with her gorgeous flyaway hair always impeccably done.

Her secret: she faces each day with grit and a big smile.

"You have to take life with a grain of humor: you let things slide, you don't take yourself too seriously," Aguas, who was named as one of Forbes Asia's Power BusinessWomen in 2019, told CNN Philippines' Rico Hizon.

"I have worked for multinational organizations. We've walked through fire and through thin ropes, I guess that gave me the confidence and courage," she added with a chuckle.

It's all about the attitude — she's not the type who backs down from an opportunity or even a big challenge.

"Do not hesitate. Lean in, raise your hand if you need to," Aguas said. "Also, learn to say no. There are things you cannot compromise on... People will listen, make them listen."

Optimism and faith have ushered her through life under quarantine as well. If there's any silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that Filipinos are now moving to secure their future. The industry has been quite resilient despite the nationwide slump.

"We ourselves were quite surprised because insurance as the crisis deepened and as vulnerability increased, I think Filipinos are very aware," the C-suite executive added.

"They have been calling us before, there have been objections before that when they hear life insurance, they say 'no time, no money, no hurry.' Now, they say they want to update and make sure their policies are enforced. They are very careful not to lapse their insurance policies," Aguas noted, attributing the change in behavior to anxiety due to the coronavirus.

InLife has kept up with the "new normal" by opening its own e-stores as they strive to have more Filipinos insured.

As for struggling business owners, here's her advice: "Look out for their own people as much as they can because once the crisis is over, they will be very loyal and they will stay with (... Don't lose hope, find new meaning to what you do."