International Women’s Month Series: Martha Borja

Meet the women advancing Grab Financial Group’s (GFG) mission of driving financial inclusion across Southeast Asia by empowering small businesses with the capital to grow and enabling individuals to improve their financial well-being. Find out what excites them about the burgeoning FinTech scene, their aims at GFG, leadership styles and advice for aspiring women leaders to #BreakTheBias and thrive.

Martha Borja heads up GFG (FinTech) in the Philippines and oversees the growth of our business. As a leader, she’s driven by the ability to transform and transcend – the former via tech disruption, and the latter by inspiring and motivating team members towards achieving a shared purpose. Her mantra? “You only get one shot at life, so make the most of it!”. 

1. What do you enjoy most about being in FinTech and what FinTech trends excite you? 

It gives me so much pride and joy to work for a company and be in an industry that empowers the lives of so many Filipinos. 

Open Finance, while still at a very early stage in the Philippines, is exciting as it revolutionises the way consumers and businesses use financial services. It pushes companies to develop customer-centric products, and promotes healthy collaboration across industry players with the goal of providing Filipinos with better access to products and services.

2. Name a leader who inspires you and why.  

I admire Jacinda Ardern for her compassion and empathy. She did not have to “act like a man” to effectively lead her country during an incredibly challenging time. She embraced her femininity and did not succumb to the pressure to alter her personality and succeeded in a male-dominated environment.  

3. What do you find most challenging as a leader and how do you overcome them?  

Leading through ambiguous times, with the ongoing pandemic being a case in point, is very challenging. One must be able to mobilise and motivate one’s team towards a shared goal and purpose. When change is the only constant, it is important to ensure that teams understand the reasons behind the changes, and that they have the guidance to adapt and succeed. In situations where you don’t have all the answers, it is OK to admit it and be vulnerable. This transparency builds trust and strengthens bonds within the team. 

 4. What can be done to #BreakTheBias and bring about greater gender equality?

One way to eliminate such biases in organisations is to start at the top. There must be a concrete plan to provide an inclusive and motivating work environment for all, then commitment to taking action to bring them to fruition. We can foster an environment where such biases are minimised by being more inclusive and thinking of others. Before taking action, let us be mindful that we’ve considered all of whom will be affected.   

5. What advice do you have for aspiring women leaders to #BreakTheBias and thrive?

I encourage aspiring women leaders to remain steadfast in working towards their goals. Let us not be easily discouraged, but ask ourselves – “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” 

That said, aspiring women leaders should also seek out mentors who succeeded despite such biases. Mentorship is key to provide the necessary guidance and knowledge in navigating one’s career regardless of level. I am truly grateful to have been mentored by strong, inspiring women leaders throughout my career and seek to give back where possible.

Stay tuned for more in this International Women’s Month series!


Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.