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Jollibee Group Celebrates Thriving Women in the Workplace Jollibee Group Celebrates Thriving Women in the Workplace

Jollibee Group Celebrates Thriving Women in the Workplace

MANILA, Philippines. 27 March 2024—One key ingredient to Jollibee Group’s growing global success is empowered women, who comprise the majority of its management positions. This Women’s Month, the restaurant company shines a spotlight on females who graced the global stage for exemplary work alongside some of the world’s leaders and trailblazers.

Breaking Glass Ceilings: Smashburger’s First Female CEO Denise Nelsen

Denise Nelsen was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of Jollibee Group-owned Smashburger: making her Smashburger’s first female CEO.

Smashburger, the US-based fast-casual better burger chain owned by the Jollibee Group, recently announced the appointment of Denise Nelsen as its new Chief Executive Officer. Nelsen is the brand’s first female CEO and brings over 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including 25 years at Starbucks.

Nelsen expressed her excitement about her new role, stating she is thrilled to work with the executive team to continue the brand’s legacy of unmatched dedication to guest satisfaction.

“I knew joining the Jollibee Group was the right decision given the trust, respect, and support it provides to its women employees,” she shared. “As Smashburger’s first female CEO, I am eager to continue fostering our culture of diversity and inclusion where everyone, regardless of gender or background, feels supported,” she added.

In 2014, Nelsen was recognized as one of Colorado’s Most Influential and Powerful Women by the US’ National Diversity Council. She actively advocated for diversity in her previous role and sponsored many of its employee affinity groups, including being the founding sponsor of the women’s development group.

JFC’s First Chief Legal, Ethics, and Compliance Officer: Atty. Valerie Feria Amante

Atty. Valerie Amante is JFC’s first Chief Legal, Ethics and Compliance Officers

Atty. Valerie Feria Amante was appointed JFC’s first Chief Legal, Ethics, and Compliance Officer late last year. With a career in JFC spanning nearly two decades, Amante’s appointment underscores her dedication to integrity and excellence and the function’s significance in the company’s growth.

According to Amante, women thrive and succeed in JFC because they are treated as leaders based on merit. Amante, who is also a Person with Disability, shared that her disability has never been a point of discussion at JFC, just like gender. Over 70% of JFC’s legal organization, which spans six countries globally, is comprised of women, with Amante being one of two PWDs in its Philippine office.

“I am proud to be part of an organization that encourages talents to step up and supports them regardless of gender or background,” she added. “I take this appointment as a unique opportunity to fulfill my professional and personal mission of making legal, ethics, and compliance integral to how we do business.”

Amante was named Southeast Asia’s In-House Lawyer of the Year in 2023 by Asian Legal Business (ALB) and, together with all three lawyers of the Global Legal leadership team, was cited in the Legal 500 General Counsel Powerlist Philippines 2023. ALB also named JFC’s Global Legal Team one of Asia’s top 15 in-house teams in 2023.

Women at the Forefront of D&I: JFC North America’s Beth Dela Cruz

Jollibee Group President for North America Beth Dela Cruz (center of photo) was recognized by Los Angeles County for advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Joining her were Dr. Regina Smith (left of Beth), VP of Los Angeles’ Commission for Women, and Dela Cruz’s JFC North America leadership team members.

Beth Dela Cruz, Jollibee Group’s President for North America (Jollibee, Chowking, and Red Ribbon), was among 16 exceptional women recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Commission for Women during its 39th Annual Women of the Year Awards and Commemorative Celebration, dubbed “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.”

The awards recognize women who work to bring about social and economic change, promote women’s equality, serve as outstanding role models, work on behalf of women’s issues, and demonstrate outstanding performance to advocate further women’s rights in Los Angeles County.

“I feel deeply honored to have been bestowed this recognition,” shared Dela Cruz. “Being a woman never stopped me from passionately creating change in JFC, bringing joy to the people we serve, and helping elevate the lives of our people.”

Dela Cruz, who started as a store management trainee in 1986 before rising through the ranks, was instrumental in Jollibee’s rapid rise in North America, where it opened its 100th store earlier this year. Dela Cruz has also provided ladders of opportunity for other women leaders in JFC, with half of her leadership team composed of women.

“Seeing our products enjoyed by customers of different ethnicities just continues to fuel my pride and drive to grow JFC across North America, and I am proud to embark on this journey with other women leaders,” she shared. “I am grateful to JFC for fostering a culture where women like myself can build a thriving, meaningful career.”

Where Passion for Finance and Coffee Meet: CBTL’s Celina Leonardo

Celina Leonardo, CBTL Senior Director of Global Financial Planning, was named a Finalist in this year’s FutureCFO Excellence Awards.

Another female leader making waves in the global scene is Ma. Celina Leonardo, Senior Director of Global Financial Planning for Jollibee Group-owned Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL).

Leonardo was recognized as a finalist in this year’s FutureCFO Excellence Awards for Controller of the Year. The awards recognize Asia’s best CFOs and finance teams for their achievements in digital transformation and strategic innovation.

Leonardo’s journey in finance began over ten years ago. Driven by her fascination with building something from scratch and her desire to be at the forefront of shaping business decisions, she joined CBTL’s Finance Team.

“Joining the company was a deliberate choice, motivated by its strong brand and start-up/ innovation mindset. I saw an opportunity to contribute to a brand with a rich legacy while embracing the challenge of navigating the financial complexities of setting up the Global Function in Singapore. CBTL is the perfect platform to merge my passion for finance with my love for coffee and tea,” shared Leonardo.

Joy for All in JFC

Underscoring its commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I), the Jollibee Group recently articulated its D&I vision through Joy for All. Joy for All lays out the company’s approach toward cultivating a more inclusive environment, with gender diversity and inclusion as one of its pillars.

“Living out our mission is made possible by the talent and dedication of all our employees worldwide who bring unique perspectives, ideas, and insights to the table every day,” shared Jollibee Group President and Chief Executive Officer Ernesto Tanmantiong. “We remain committed to supporting our people, especially our women employees, by providing an inclusive environment where they can be their best selves and thrive.”

As part of its push for D&I, the Jollibee Group recently joined the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment, an association of large employers that promote gender equality in their workplaces. It is the first and only quick-service restaurant member in the said coalition.

In 2021, JFC was the only Philippine-based company that made it to Forbes’ inaugural list of the World’s Top Female-Friendly Companies.