Reflecting on Beginnings

“Not everything happens exactly the way you’ve planned it.” 

We cannot expect what life gives us even though we planned a lot of things beforehand. According to Vanessa Estrella Belleza, CEO of Xilium, “…there will always be a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change everythingand it is up to you to discern or process and think of the consequences when accepting the opportunity.” Being a CEO of a company was one thing that she never expected to be. 

We always plan ahead, but there are circumstances in our lives that redirect us to a path that we did not expect. Working her way towards the career of an educator, Van did not imagine that one day she would be called by an old friend for an opportunity of a lifetime–to work for a company that will open even more opportunities for more people. Like any other person, she was hesitant, thinking, “Am I ready for such a big responsibility?”

However, being a CEO of a company is not as easy as it seems, especially when they are the ones in-charge of making big decisions for the company. Diversifying the workforce is one of the first challenges Van faced as the CEO. Considering that the company values an open culture that inculcates a diversified set of people, how to get them together is truly a challenge.

Losing clients was another problem that the company faced. Handling situations where she needed to let go of a number of employees gave Van a hard time. These challenges are normal for a company, and facing it head-on by adapting a solution-driven outlook is the best strategy rather than focusing on the problem that has already happened. Such circumstances may be difficult for a CEO, but these experiences strengthen the foundation of the company.

Nonetheless, facing these hesitations and challenges also came with rewards. For Van, seeing Xilium’s employees who have professionally and personally succeeded in their own lives makes her proud. She has no regrets of taking the risk of leading the company. For her, “When I see employees who bought a house for their family, running their own business, being full time mothers at the same time full time employees… These little stories and looking at how the values and culture (of the company) are manifesting in the lives of people, and in return giving back to the community – that’s what I call success.” 

Reflecting on such humble beginnings will make us look back on how we first hesitated, doubted ourselves, and faced challenges that we now celebrate as  momentous turning points in our lives. We may remember that our lives turned out differently than we expected, but that is the beauty of these hardships and experiences. What is left is to look back on the memories that will remind us of how far along we’ve come and to humble ourselves as we continue down the road.