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Margot Torres: Of hard work, humility and giving back

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Photo by Adobo Magazine

By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer

For Margot Torres, nothing will beat the value of simple hard work in the pursuit of success. Though she now holds the esteemed position of McDonald’s Philippines’ executive vice-president and deputy managing director, she once started out as a marketing professional for many companies across various industries, building her skill set and gathering years of experience before joining the ranks of the global fast food giant in 2003.

Her perseverance and adherence to the principle of hard work kept her serving the company for close to 15 years, first as the head of McDonald’s Marketing & Communications team as senior vice-president and chief marketing officer. Now, she leads the company’s Customer Experience Group, a team of over 200 people in multiple departments such as Strategy&Insights, Marketing and Menu, Corporate Communications, IT, Franchising, Operations, and Supply Chain Management.

“I believe that nothing beats hard work to achieve your goals,” Ms. Torres said
in an e-mail to BusinessWorld. “In my career, I have learned that integrity, conviction, consistency and empathy are essential for leaders. Humility trumps them all because it helps us embrace temporary failure which is inevitable, and when we do, we become better. Humility means we always stay open to learn.”

It stands as a testament to such deep-rooted values that she was recognized and honored many times over by organizations and institutions both inside and outside of the country, from being named Brand Ambassador by McDonald’s Asia Pacific Middle East Africa (APMEA) Women’s Leadership Network in 2010, to becoming an Awardee of the Agora Award for Excellence in Marketing Management by the Philippine Marketing Association in the same year.

Ms. Torres was also the recipient of the 1st Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of the Year Award by Tambuli from the University of Asia & the Pacific in 2011, and one of the recipients of the 1st Mansmith Market Masters Award on mentorship in July 2015.

“I would like to attribute wherever I am today to the people with whom I have worked throughout the years especially my previous bosses who have generously mentored me. To succeed, I believe that it is important that one is collaborative and is able to positively influence the people around them,” she said.

As a mother of two young adults, and happily married for 19 years, Ms. Torres knows the impact of being a good role model, not just in the workplace, but in life in general.

“At present, I have a lot of admiration for Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, not just as a leader in a successful company, but as an authentic person. Her definition of leadership is ‘about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ As a person, she shows generosity because making a contribution to a person or a cause is evident in her words and actions,” she said.

“My lifelong idol is my Mom,” she said. “She is not a working mother, but her integrity and steadfastness are traits that prove the strength of her character.”

To help those wishing to follow her footsteps, as well as to give back to the industry that granted her the opportunities to succeed, Ms. Torres served the Philippine advertising industry as president of Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) in 2010 and 2012, and IMMAP (Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines) in 2016 and 2017.

“Aside from giving back to the industry, another passion that I have is helping develop young professionals which I have been able to do through my role in McDonald’s as a professor in Worldwide Hamburger Marketing University in Chicago from 2013-2016, and championed PANA Brand Camp in 2010-2012,” she said.

When asked about her views on gender inequality in the workplace, Ms. Torres kept true to her beliefs on the virtue of diligence and advised women everywhere to reject labels and use their unique strengths as leverage to get ahead.

“I believe in equality. It is not just about gender. I do not subscribe to labels,” she said. “In the end, it is about being gender neutral when finding the best person to do the job. What will differentiate a successful person from another at work would be the results of their hard work, learning ability and commitment regardless of their gender.”

“Women should recognize their unique strengths and embrace them rather than consider them as a liability or use them as an excuse. Leverage advantages inherent to women like a strong attention to detail, high level of empathy and being intuitive, then combine these with a strategic business understanding, drive and ambition, and watch for the transformation into an amazing leader,” she said.

“Persevere and continuously strive for excellence and believe that you can succeed in any path that you choose — whether to stay single or get married, have a career or manage the home,” she added.