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Updated: March 8, 2016

Conversations: Elsie and Charlene Chua’s family ties

CDC Holdings’ Charlene Chua-Sy discusses how she and mom Elsie manage to run the business as a mother–daughter team.

“Like mother, like daughter” is one statement that definitely rings true for the mother–daughter tandem of Elsie Chua and Charlene Chua-Sy, who run CDC Holdings as President/CEO and Executive Vice President, respectively. They’re both driven, both have good work ethics, and both know how to balance work and family life. To find out more about how the duo manage a thriving business and still have time for what truly matters, MyProperty.ph sat down with the younger of the two Chuas, Charlene.

You and your mom seem to complement each other when it comes to running the company. What would you say is your strength?
I like being with people, talking to them in marketing and sales. I like designing and business development as well. It’s more of the analyses I can do for the company. My mom does more of the charging forward, I’m the step back and the analyses of the best scenario, and I advise her. My forte is sales, marketing, and operations.

Being the product of a Filipino and Chinese work culture, what learnings did you gain on how to run the business?
In this business, like in any business, it’s ultimately about managing people. So, number one, you have to have the right balance. You have to enforce discipline, such as time management. At the same time, you have to have emotional empathy. In Chinese culture, business is very strict in terms of money and time management. Filipinos, on the other hand, value happiness, camaraderie, fellowship. So, we have to merge the two.

Was it hard to find the right balance between the two?
Not so much. I grew up in both cultures. You really have to draw the line that you’re the boss. But my Mom is the more disciplinarian between us. She grew up in that environment. I’m not that strict. We’re the third generation; we’re a bit spoiled (laughs). But we do understand the values which should be inculcated in your workforce.

What’s the best lesson your mom ever taught you?
Don’t fall in love, or be so attached with your projects so much. The most important is that you give your best service to your clients. They’ll be with you in the long run. Your existing clients will be your best sellers.

What are the main benefits of running a business with family?
The access to each other is faster. During lunchtime, we talk about business. Analyses and decisions are made faster.

Outside the office, how does your mom keep herself busy?
She recently took up painting. Every Saturday, she spends about 3 hours, and then when she goes home from work, if there’s time, she has paints in her studio at home. That’s her de-stressor. She also loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her grandkids.

What makes your Mom happiest?
Her grandkids, her family, makes her happiest.

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