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Catriona Gray v2
February 24, 2019

Catriona Gray

I think Miss Universe is wonderful platform that we promote diversity and women empowerment. Why? Because we are achieved women who have stories, who have passions, who have careers.

Catriona Gray

Filipino-Australian, Catriona Elisa Magnayon Gray, was crowned 2018 Miss Universe, in the Miss Universe Pageant (representing her country, Philippines) held in Bangkok, Thailand.  She was born in Cairns, Queensland to a Scottish-born father, Ian Gray and a Filipina mother, Normita Magnayon. She grew up in Australia and decided to take a gap year after High School to learn more about herself and discover what she really wants to pursue, so she flew to the Philippines and lived in the country since. She is a model, visual artist, a black-belter in Choi Kwang-Do martial art and has a master’s certificate in Music Theory.

cat gray
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray

Representing your team to any competition can already be unnerving and overwhelming for you but that may be nothing compared to representing your country or the whole world (rather the universe)! This leading lady, certainly, has the leadership strength and core values that we can all learn from. Strengths that helped her whether all pressures, fears and challenges that pageantry and her advocavy bring.

Leadership Is Influence

Leadership to her is all about influence. In her interview for the Leading Women program of CNN Philippines, she conveyed that in any profession you may be in, that you would have a level of influence amongst colleagues, peers or families. You can inspire your circle to be drawn to the greater things in life. This is spot on! you can’t lead without having followers who also believed in the same cause that you are passionate about.

She realizes that pageantry is not about the crown nor the prestige, it is a great platform to be able to speak to what you are passionate about and bring people to her cause or advocacy which is about educating the youth in the slums of Manila. She believes that if these kids are provided food, that would only be enough for a day or two and they’d go hungry the next days. If you give them education it will stay with them forever.

It is true that education is lasting. In all the critical decisions that you make as a leader, your team will be able to understand and support you because they know the outcome that you are trying to achieve. They start to think big picture.

The meaning of “Why do you do the things that you do?”

It is important for her to have a deeper understanding of who she is and what she represents. She spent time researching about her culture, traditions and why we are who we are now.

Knowing who you are and where you are going are the foundation of your leadership. Your day can a stressful day, pressured by deadlines or presentations or confronting critical issues and situations but in knowing why you are doing all these will get you through anything. Also in knowing that you have strengths and relevant competencies will give you confidence to speak eloquently and to tackle issues with grace and effectiveness.

Discern Criticism

In every opportunity she’s given, she makes sure she puts in the time to prepare. To her it’s a loss chance if you don’t put all your effort to make everything perfect. To help her prepare she organizes and put in the time. Most importantly, she prepares mentally and be able to take in anything especially criticisms.

She handles criticism by first discerning what the criticism was about. Is it aimed to make her feel bad? If it is so, she then ignores them. On the other hand, if criticism comes from the people she trusts, who truly means well and are only  after of her success then she listens to the feedback and processes.

You can’t control the negative words or feelings that your people may have but we know that in most times they affect us and impact decisions we make. It is best to talk to your people, individually and understand where they are coming from. Discern if the person just needs enlightenment or that the person is just heckling. Educate them on the impact of their lack of cooperation to the business. Highlight that they have an important role in ensuring that objectives are met which lead to profit and job security (or whatever your organization is working for).

Educate Self Through Immersion

At a low point of her life, while living alone in Manila working as a model, she decided to shun from all pressures and began to focus her attention on other people. She contacted Focus International, an organization that closely help the poor communities in Tondo, Manila. She began volunteering, teaching kids in the makeshift classrooms and support the organization’s cause. Catriona understood the importance of immersion. She went into this poor community (this experience can be uncomfortable for some) and witnessed first hand the difficult situations they go through. She was able to fully grasp what was truly lacking, which is education. She then helped raise funds to send these kids to school so when eventually they graduate and a land a job, they’d be able to help their family get out of poverty.

As leaders, it’s best to put some time in your calendar to immerse. Looking at the numbers and graphs alone won’t paint a vivid picture for you. You sit in their meetings and observe. Stop the prejudices that may blind you from seeing what truly matters. Most of us would attend meetings to be heard. We like hearing our voice, missing the chance to listen to the tone or emotion in their voices or their words. We’d fail to know what they are truly passionate about and notice gaps which you could help them with.

It’s All About Teamwork

Catriona’s journey into becoming the 2018 Miss Universe is not just a work that she alone put together. She has a team that helps her get there. She never fails to acknowledge her team and expresses how grateful she is with their time and effort. She is also happy that she had been given the chance to provide input, like ideas on the design of her wardrobe, etc. She customized her ear cuff from her design which she wore during the pageant.

A great team leader will only share his ideas when everyone is done sharing theirs. Trust your team that together, they have what it takes to bring success to the team. Your time is done, it’s time to dim your light and let them shine.

Thanks to this leading lady, she’s changed the way I see pageantry. She’s a true influencer.

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Fran

Learning and Culture Director at Stellar Philippines
Fran Saguindang Riego de Dios, MS has been in training and leadership development for more than a decade now. In earning her Master of Science in Biology degree, she joined the College of Science and Mathematics faculty of MSU-IIT and published her studies in Asia Life and Philippine Scientists Journals. For her, moving into the corporate world felt odd at first but with the scientific method and discipline in her backpack, it has become a fulfilling experience. You may also visit her personal Science Blog Site at Live Well. She also enjoys music (sings and plays the piano) and art (portrait sketch).
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