In the News. Essential Worker: IT Executive Finds New Meaning in Her Work During the Pandemic

This article was published in The Manila Times on October 22, 2021. Photos from the same page.

“The constraints are both obstacles and opportunities. So in essence, the challenge is doubled: overcome the obstacles and meet the moment of opportunity.”

 

Stratpoint Technologies chief executive officer Mary Rose De la Cruz is one of those rare individuals, who has put into good use what she pursued in school. She has a computer science degree from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, a master degree in computing from Macquarie University in Australia and a master in business administration from the UP Diliman College of Business Administration.

De la Cruz joined Stratpoint Technologies in 2010, initially as chief operating officer (COO). Within five years, she assumed the position of chief executive officer (CEO) in September 2014. Previous to Stratpoint, she was head of delivery at Headstrong Philippines, now GenPact, a global information technology outsourcing firm.

 

Up a notch

Stratpoint Technologies, whose roots can be traced to Sillicon Valley in California, has been delivering enterprise-grade solutions for more than 20 years. In 2015, executive chairman Paco Sandejas acquired Sequel Solutions and rebranded it Stratpoint Technologies.

“The opportunity to work with Silicon Valley technology and startups is what attracted me to join the company,” De la Cruz admits. “I always knew that working in software was meaningful work, but this pandemic has taken things up a notch. Now, I know that I’m doing essential work for businesses to continue operating safely during the crisis.

“Our DNA has always been at the forefront of emerging technologies, such that it was actually inevitable that we would be one of the first digital natives. We were always going to be the first to adopt digital when the wave arrived due to our curiosity and passion to apply new technology to solve problems.” Through the years, Stratpoint Technologies satisfied clients who used its library. For instance, “Iris” is a natural language library that enables chatbots to respond to customer inquiries in a conversational manner, providing a 24/7 assistant.

 

De la Cruz (right) with colleagues Sonny Carlos and Kevin Ventura at the AWS re:Invent 2019 in Las Vegas

 

“With Iris, our chatbots are able to look for a more complete context, rather than just looking for a specific keyword from user messages, enabling them to better identify how to respond to a person’s inquiry,” De la Cruz explains. “Instead of you trying to figure out what keywords will trigger the right response from a bot [short for robot in software program], the bot will figure out what you’re looking for and give you the proper response. Iris helps businesses to grow, saving them time while increasing their customer engagement.”

Stratpoint Technologies has helped a number of prestigious clients embrace the digital transformation and eventually, innovate and level up. The roster includes Globe, ABS-CBN and Unionbank among other enterprises, which have praised the company as a valued partner, particularly for its several software engineering and innovation initiatives.

De la Cruz says: “Our clients are those who want to innovate, so naturally, it was never easy — timelines were always short. The apps have to look good and feel amazing. But we like to challenge ourselves and were rewarded by the thanks and appreciation of our clients and seeing the benefits of our work with our client’s customers.”

 

Tough job

Operating and functioning in the new normal, Stratpoint Technologies, fortunately, did not experience any major adjustment unlike most ventures. “The shift to virtual wasn’t a stretch, because we are born-in-the cloud (software company), and we are used to working in a distributed manner due to our overseas clients,” De la Cruz says.

De la Cruz herself made sacrifices. “Like everyone else, it’s the in-person interactions that we miss the most,” she says. “Culture and collaborations are just so much easier and more fun when the team is together in one place.

“I think we vastly underrated how much support from in-person interactions with co-workers contributed to our success. We only realized its value when we lost it due to WFH (work from home) in this pandemic.”

As CEO of Stratpoint Technologies now facing heightened challenges, De la Cruz shares how tough and difficult her job has become lately. “Taking care of the people I work with — both Stratpoint Technologies employees and our clients — is the hardest part, because we are all going through stressors to our physical and mental health,” she says. “The constraints are both obstacles and opportunities, so in essence, the challenge is doubled: Overcome the obstacles and meet the moment of opportunity.”

De la Cruz didn’t nurture a specific career ambition when she was growing up. “I just was intensely curious about the world and liked science and math,” she says. “I guess I wasn’t sidetracked, since what I saw ahead of me was not a path, but an open field.”

To unwind, she goes for a tennis match or a round of golf. She also enjoys cooking and travelling. Juggling her time between work and home, De la Cruz admirably manages to keep a balance between the two. “Prioritization is key and being present in the moment,” she insists. “So, that it’s quality time that’s spent with people that matters the most.”

And despite a hectic schedule, she feels that one should never forget to prioritize health. “I start my day with a workout, prayer and meditation and end my day with a walk, if time permits. Weekends are for play and connecting with others, doing the same thing most people do: shopping, eating and just hanging out.”

When the Covid-19 situation clears up, De la Cruz expresses her desire to travel out of the country, one thing that she misses most, along with attending events and connecting with nature. “I hope to go to Wimbledon,” the tennis buff says.

That trip to the UK to catch high-stakes tennis matches is certainly one that the IT executive is looking forward to. In the meantime, she keeps the faith that Stratpoint Technologies will consistently empower businesses with their solution offerings despite the formidable challenges the business sector faces in the months ahead.

November 12, 2021

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