Ana Maria ‘Penny’ Bongato

Transforming Filipinos to Global Success

Philippines was a leading country in Asia, when Ana Maria Sicangco Bongato, fondly called Penny was growing up. As she became older, she witnessed how other Asian countries progressed with will and skill. Passionately patriotic, this motivated her to do something for the Filipino people, a dream she realised four years ago when she gave up her successful corporate career to turn full-time coach and consultant.

Today, Penny is a Canfield certified Trainer in the Success Principles and Certified in the Canfield Methodology, Life and Career Coach, Motivational Speaker, Educator, and Author. She has trained more than 50,000 Filipinos on the success principles and delivered presentations all across the globe. Her effectiveness was acknowledged when she was honoured as one of ‘Top 100 Filipinos to Follow on LinkedIn for Inspiration and Learning 2019, 2020, 2021’.

Speaking about the passion that drives her, Ana, fondly called ‘Penny’ by friends and associates, says, “My life purpose is to help transform the lives of 100,000 Filipinos; to motivate them to dream bigger and aspire for more. Many Filipinos work hard, but are still unable to support themselves. My passion is to help them through the principles that have guided me to dream bigger and achieve these dreams. If you told me 10 years ago that I would be writing a book, I would have said ‘No way’. Now, I’m working on my fourth book with more to come. This is what I want for Filipinos – for us to say ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t’; for us to believe in ourselves. I want a better country, and soon a first world nation.”

2021 was one of Penny’s most successful years as a consultant, trainer, and coach. “I’ve been out of the corporate world for four years. Even with the pandemic, I know I still have a lot to offer. With the online shift, getting new clients was a challenge at first. But, since I’ve already built a name in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country, I was prepared. Being part of LinkedIn’s Top Filipinos to Follow since 2019 also gave me an edge. More than hard work, it is about passion – having the drive to do the things I love all the time,” she says.

Not one to believe in luck, Penny opines luck is when opportunity and preparedness meet. Her biggest opportunity was becoming a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles and the Canfield Methodology. Penny has been privileged to learn from Jack Canfield – America’s #1 success coach, bestselling author, and originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. “The principles I’ve learned serve as the cornerstone of what I love to do – working with people and transforming lives. These principles are my coaching tools. My three books – Career Shift; Ask for a Bigger Blanket; and, Forward Shift: Managing Your Life in the Time of a Pandemic was a result of interviewing more than 30 coaches and mentors across the world.

Penny chose to realise her dreams by “never stop learning”, a mantra that has been an anchor all her life. She has experienced many challenges in her career – She went from engineering to information technology, to customer service, to human resources, and finally, training and coaching. “As I grow older and wiser, I want to constantly learn in all aspects of my life. During this pandemic, my learning journey has been especially challenging but rewarding. I’ve been learning new things on technology, online teaching, self-care, and motivating others as well as myself. I continue to upskill in different areas of my life,” she shares.

Penny was born into a generation when parents said, ‘You need to work for one company from womb to tomb, and it has to be a multinational company. Climb the corporate ladder.’ When Penny joined the BPO industry, she was happy working with people. It was an opportunity to work on her passion of transforming lives. It was not just about thinking outside the box, but thinking without a box.

Penny soon learned that, “Your limitation is your imagination.” This opened her eyes to many possibilities, including what she could do for the Philippines. “The Filipino people are my inspiration. We can do more and deserve more. Filipinos can be truly successful in all aspects of life. With grit and resilience, there is no goal we cannot achieve,” she says.

Super achiever Penny is certainly a testament to her statement. She was Employee No. 1 of the biggest contact center in the Philippines (Convergys, now Concentrix) in 2003, which now has more than 85,000 employees in the country. She led the industry-academia team in developing the Service Management Program (SMP), a curriculum for the colleges and universities to bridge the skills gap, which was recognized as the 2017 People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) People Program of the Year.

As a life and career coach, she had instant impact and was included in LinkedIn’s Top 100 Filipinos to Follow for Inspiration and Motivation in 2019, 2020 and 2021. She made it to the list once again as Linkedin’s Top 100 (#13) Filipino Women to Follow for Inspiration in 2021. All this in addition to being a popular published author of three books!

We can’t help but ask her, what makes a great leader? ‘Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge’ – “I love this quote by Simon Sinek. Leadership is not about accumulating followers. A true leader is one who inspires others to be leaders as well. Being a leader is not about oneself but being of service to others,” says Penny, whose motivation and determination has seen her emerge as an impressive leader in her country.

A veritable catalyst of change, Penny has transformed innumerous lives with her sharp observation and valuable insights. She leaves us with a message for all those who wish to manifest success: “Always follow your passion. Do the things you love to do and you’ll never have to work a single day in your life. This belief has guided me through the years, especially after I left the corporate world. Over the last 11 years, I have lived my true calling, my passion. Then, everything else followed.”

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