Dear Younger Self: 3 Lessons From a P&G Executive

An Asian woman with shoulder-length black hair wears a dark suede jacket and a string of pearls. She smiles as she looks off in the distance. The image is black and white.

Fama Francisco, P&G CEO of Global Baby, Feminine and Family Care, shares personal learnings from her 35 years in the company.

We have an unwavering dedication to helping our people learn and grow. Our leaders are committed to developing our employees to their full potential through mentoring, coaching and sharing their career lessons learned, so the next generation of talent can thrive.

A black and white ID badge features a young Asian woman with dark hair in the headshot. Black text provides additional details about her role at work. On the right is a black and white headshot of the same woman after 35 years at the company.

As Chief Executive Officer for Global Baby, Feminine and Family Care, Fama Francisco works with P&G teams around the world, leading global operations, innovation, brand building and supply chain for household name brands, including Pampers, Luvs, Always, Tampax, Bounty, Charmin and Puffs.

Spanning three and a half decades and three continents, Fama’s journey is marked by learning, growth and resilience. A real trailblazer, Fama has achieved many firsts in her career, including being the first female sales manager hired in the Philippines, amongst the youngest women promoted to President, and being the first Asian female Sector CEO in P&G’s 187-year history. She exemplifies how we “build from within” and shares some of the lessons she learned along the way.

I will always be grateful to be part of a company that has allowed me to go well beyond what I would have imagined as a young girl growing up in the Philippines.

— Fama Francisco

Lesson 1: If One Door Closes, Find Another Way In

Beginning your career and growing into new roles can sometimes feel overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn, and it’s easy to feel discouraged when plans don’t quite work out — a feeling Fama knows all too well.

Fresh out of college with a marketing degree, she aimed for a job in brand management. “My dream was to make it through the door of P&G. I wanted to work for the best brand-building company that I knew, and that was by far Procter & Gamble.”

The interview process was rigorous. She passed three of the interviews but fell short of the fourth. Despite her initial setback, she applied for a sales position, breaking new ground as the first woman in the department at the time in the Philippines.

“It felt like a door had been closed”, she said. “But I really wanted to join P&G, so I tried another door, and I applied for sales. That's where I started my career, as the first female sales manager in P&G Philippines after 55 years of operations in the country!”

To this day, Fama keeps her rejection letter as a reminder of her journey and the importance of perseverance. If one door closes, there is always another way in.

Lesson 2: Don’t Try to Change Who You Are — Instead, Learn to Flex Different Muscles

“You are ‘too nice and too introverted,’ I was told early on in my career.”

She knew that it was not a compliment. But she didn’t let that deter her from staying true to herself, her values and her style. Fama reiterates that we are often led to think that we need to fit a certain mold — to be extroverts or adopt a specific dominant leadership style in order to succeed.

But Fama busted that myth. Instead, she learned to flex different muscles over the years, proving you can be empathetic, introverted and strong as a leader.

Each of our unique experiences demonstrate that staying true to our individual styles is the most powerful way to develop our careers and contribute to the growth of our businesses and organizations.

“Never change who you are. It's your uniqueness, your authenticity that makes you valuable to your teams. So, embrace your differences and make them shine by learning to flex different muscles. And let your results speak for themselves.”

A diverse group of young women smile directly at the camera. The image is set against a blue backdrop and a white text quote that reads, "Never change who you are. Embrace your differences and make them shine by learning to flex different muscles."

Like Fama, P&G values the importance of bringing your true self to work. Diverse teams bring out the best ideas. Her results in leading the second-largest sector within the company speak for themselves!

Lesson 3: Never Let Your Oxygen Tanks Get to Zero

Early in our careers, many of us set goals and eagerly put up our hands to take on more responsibilities. This too was once true for Fama. She used to equate constant work with success, until she quickly realized that this approach was unsustainable.

One way to address that was to learn to keep an eye on her “oxygen tanks,” each one representing a different aspect of her life: family, hobbies or work. While each tank’s reserves vary as we prioritize different aspects at different times, ensure neither of these runs aground.

Working non-stop doesn’t make things better, especially as it doesn’t leave time to recharge and regain perspective. “I have learned that being ‘always on’ can have the opposite effect. It’s exhausting!”

An Asian woman with shoulder length dark hair wears a black and white top. She smiles as she sits outside, while holding a basket of vegetables and a bouquet of flowers.

We are all human, and our tanks are not infinite. We need to be as kind to ourselves as we try to be to others, to give ourselves permission to turn off the engine and to take time to recover to be productive again.

For Fama, this has surfaced through her passion for growing vegetables and flowers. She finds this helps her stay grounded in the moment and regain focus on her role and the responsibilities she has with her team, friends and family.

An Asian family of seven adults gather and smile as they stand together on large rocks. In the background is a large snow-capped mountain range, trees and a beautiful turquoise colored lake.

Prioritizing yourself is not selfish. It’s a generous act. It is the only sustainable way to be there for others — at work and at home. This shift in mindset has helped Fama be more present and in balance, a recipe for long-term success.

Fama’s leadership lessons inspire us to persevere, embrace our uniqueness and prioritize our wellbeing.

Listen to more insights and advice from Fama on the P&G Alumni podcast “Learning From Leaders.” Stay connected with Fama by following her on LinkedIn.