From domestic helper to BPO company owner: Myrna Padilla’s journey from mops to computers

(This is one of the articles I wrote for a government magazine (DTI Region XI’s Asenso Ka Magazine) back in 2012. Her success story is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve heard so I decided to share it with you here. Original Title: Power of the Mynd: Myrna Padilla proves that IT Knowledge is indeed power)

Myrna Padilla 1Call her a BPO and IT stalwart, a multi-awarded business leader, a daring woman who built her company from scratch, or a doting mother who toiled day and night overseas as a domestic helper and nanny in pursuit of a better life for her family. Myrna Padilla, President of Mynd Dynamic Team, Inc. is all that and so much more.

Padilla may not have a college degree nor a high school diploma to boot, she managed to achieve what a lot of degree holders could only wish for – being a beacon of inspiration to others by rising from poverty and providing employment and business opportunities to fellow Filipinos.

How did one woman who grew up in an impoverished fishing village in Bohol, and whose highest educational attainment was only third year high school, build her own Business Process Outsourcing company specializing in software development?

It all started with a mouse.

Padilla was working as a nanny in Hong Kong in 1996 when her alaga (the young boy under her care) acquired a new personal computer. It alone stirred her curiosity, but she was especially transfixed when it came to the mouse.

“I was so amazed with the mouse. How could something so small be so powerful?” she said. Padilla began exploring the internet with the click of a mouse, having the boy as her mentor.  “It was then that I developed a passion for technology,” she recalled.

Realizing how empowering technology could be, she began using the computer for documentation and budgeting to help other Overseas Filipino Workers through the Mindanao Hong Kong Workers Federation, an organization that she founded and chaired.

Restless about her new passion, she studied Basic IT in Hong Kong for three months and learned more about basic computing. However, since she did not have her own personal computer and frequent trips to internet cafes were costly, she would end up resorting to an old typewriter that a friend found in the trash.

It was four years after her first encounter with the computer when Padilla’s employer gave her a laptop which included a printer, and eventually upon Padilla’s prodding, an internet connection for her to use.

Thirst for knowledge

With her unquenchable thirst for knowledge, she burrowed through every bit of information that she could find online and used her learning as a leverage to help not only herself, but also others in the process.

Summing up her mindset about learning, she said “I learn, I apply (what I learn), I continue learning, and I never stop learning.”

Noting that she lacked formal education due to poverty, she believed she could increase her value by adding knowledge using the internet.

Her curiosity led her to come across the jargons “blog” (short for web log) and “Web 2.0” (a popular term for advanced internet technology and applications). She once bumped into a website that gave her technical errors prompting her to contact its administrator and complain about the site’s technical glitches, including its creative features. Her incessant criticism earned her a job offer instead – to be a bug tester.

The road to outsourcing success

Padilla soon realized that services can be provided through the Internet. Thus came the BPO idea.

The domestic helper-and-nanny-turned-entrepreneur believes that the key to starting an outsourcing business is not about having a million pesos as capital investment; “It’s about finding clients and taking care of them,” she said.

“We focus on delivering services and making our clients happy and help them become successful because once they are, they will be your great salesman [sic]. They will talk about you and they will refer you to others. That’s how I get my clients,” she added.

Admitting that she doesn’t have a marketing budget, Padilla stated that her company relies solely on word-of-mouth advertising.

“Nowadays, the word of mouth is the world of mouth through social media,” she said.

Despite all the accolades she has received in the business world, she remains grounded.

“In the software development business, people say we are in the cutting edge of technology. We are. But if you don’t watch out when you develop a software, your head will be cut,” she said.

“Developing software is very costly. If you’re not quick, innovative, creative and smart, you’ll be cut,” she added.

Why Mynd instead of Mind?

Without initially realizing that Mynd starts with the first letters of her name, she opted to use it since mind.com was no longer available. Padilla instead came up with http://www.myndconsulting.com.

More than having a sense of belongingness, she pointed out that Mynd has marketing value – It stirs curiosity and it plays in the mind, making it easy to remember. It also relates to her software development business which is a primarily a huge brain work.

Growing business organically

With only two old computers and her sister as her assets, and hardly any revolving funds to start with at the infancy stage of the business, Padilla said their incoming revenues had to cover the bills.

In 2007, honesty paid off when a foreign client wanted to meet with her and five of her programmers in Manila for a possible business deal. Having no budget for plane tickets, she told the client about her ordeal and suggested that the client meet them in Davao City instead, to which the client agreed.

To help her build good credentials and establish trust with the client, she called on some friends from different sectors: one from the Davao City Chamber of Commerce who talked about the business situation in Davao; one from a telecommunications company who talked about the infrastructures; and another from the Rotary Club who talked about Mynd’s community service efforts.

Padilla also managed to send three employees to Europe to undergo training for the said client. “It’s brain gain instead of brain drain,” she said.

Today, Mynd Dynamic Team, Inc. develops software applications for various clients around the world and has grown to fifteen employees, a far cry from the company’s humble beginnings.

“The Internet is a great equalizer,” she said, pointing out that despite being in a third world country, Filipinos develop CRM and mobile solutions, social media applications, and iphone applications for clients in more developed countries.

Proud recipient of DTI assistance

Padilla and her team benefited from various assistance projects conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry – trainings, promotions, benchmarking, and extending business networks, to name a few.

Global accolade

Among the many citations she received was the First Global Ambassador to Empower One Million Women with Technology awarded by Telecentre.org in Chile. It was a digital literacy campaign launched in South America last year. This campaign generated various nominees from all over the world.

Words to ponder

Having a conversation with Padilla would tempt one to take down notes due to the valuable nuggets of wisdom she shares in one sitting. Here are some of them:

“It’s not only about survival. It’s about going to the right direction and about overcoming your fear. It’s applied in our business and in our (personal) life”

“Business is not copy and paste [sic]. It has to be thought through. It has to be in line with your passion.”

“You have to have a roadmap. Have a picture in your mind how it would become if you really want to pursue it. If you follow your roadmap and go in the right direction, I think you will survive.”

“What is your backup plan when you fail?”

“Are you willing to overcome your fear?”

“You will not succeed if you won’t fail.”

“I believe that the greatest failure in life is not doing what you really want to do.”

“You have to continue and never stop learning.”

Myrna Padilla 2
The Lady Wants To Know. Myrna Padilla has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, especially about technology, which eventually led her to having her own BPO company.