Ronna sets priorities

MARIA Ronna Pastorizo-Sekiguchi emanates a lot of positive energy and for someone who juggles life as a successful entrepreneur, doting mother and loving wife, the 36-year-old believes in setting “intentions” and working hard to make it happen.

Born in Manila, Philippines on a flooded, stormy day to a middle-class Filipino family, “Ronna”, as she is commonly called, grew up in a very loving, supportive and encouraging home.

“My parents named me Maria to honour Mother Mary because as the story goes, my parents prayed the novena as a last resort after trying and failing to conceive any more children subsequent to their firstborn son,” she said.

“However everyone calls me Ronna as Maria is a far too common name in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines.

“Although we struggled financially, my parents managed to send both my elder brother and I to finish our tertiary education at top schools in Manila. They are my personal heroes and the way they raised me is a strong testament to who I am as a person today.”

Many people have crossed paths with the managing and creative director of The Greenhouse Studio, a multidisciplinary creative communications team that specialises in branding, corporate events, print and digital communications.

And more recently, Ronna was chosen as the first woman in business from Fiji to participate in The Global Ambassadors Program in Sydney, Australia early this month.

The program is a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership that connects women leaders at a tipping point in their professional, business and leadership paths with established women executives for mentorship.

It is aimed at empowering women leaders from countries in the Asia-Pacific region to help advance their goals and make an impact in their communities.

“The Global Ambassadors Program believes that women are a force for driving economic, political and social change. Today more than ever, we know that women’s participation in politics and business grow economies and make nations thrive,” she said.

“However, despite this fact, there are still huge gender disparities when it comes to accessibility to economic resources, and progress has been very slow in closing the gender gap in power and decision-making areas.

“I learned so much from the program I can probably write a book! One main takeaway from the program is that if you set the intention, the magic will follow.

“So for every decision that you make for your business and your life, setting an intention means you are very clear on what goals that you want to achieve at a specific time, what particular actions are needed to meet those goals and what outcomes you are after, thereby making all of your decisions strategic and purposeful.

“That’s when the magic happens. This is similar to that quote, ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. Setting the intention contains all the hard work, and I guarantee you magic follows suit.”

In 2004, Ronna moved to Fiji for work and four years later met her “equal” — her husband Richard — and while it may sound credibly cliché Ronna knew when she met her husband that Fiji was going to be home for her. They married two years later and welcomed their son, Maui Ryuu Phoenix in 2012.

“My husband and son inspired me to take the leap of faith of living life as an entrepreneur. I was working for another local advertising agency and long hours really took its toll.

“So starting a business with a healthy work-life integration was always at The Greenhouse Studio’s core,” she said.

For those aspiring towards a similar career path, Ronna says all they need are guts, grit and great support or the “3Gs” as she likes to call them.

“Guts as it takes courage to get out of your comfort zone and start a business. You need the guts to do everything possible to succeed in this venture. Grit because you are going to work the hardest while trying to balance everything else in your life,” she said.

“You just have to toughen up and find solutions to your problems and you keep going. Great support because you need all the help you can to make it.

“Accept that help! Surround yourself with people, friends and family who genuinely want you to succeed. Because your greatest limited resource is time, you will have to learn quickly who and what your priorities are.

“Lastly, always be reminded of where you came from so when you get to where you want to be, please lend a hand to others who are working their damnedest to get there.”

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