Positive Impact & Sustainability

Invest in Women: Accelerate the Process

2 Minutes read

Patricia Planells, CEO of Lafise Bank in Panama and REF Forum Leader, is the featured Community Member this month.

How long have you been in REF? How did you start?

I have been part of the REF Community for a little over eight years. I started in 2016 when Robbie Garcia (REF Panama Partner) shared some insights with me about this international initiative and invited me to join, bringing into existence and kickstarting the first all-women's CEO group in Panama. It was a real challenge because there were no female leaders' groups in Latin America at that time. Every group has its own special aura and vibes, but a key element that emerged was the recurring circumstance of dealing with the challenges in leadership roles that Latin females encounter in their career paths. This convergence point turned out to be a great opportunity for all of us to have our own space.

How has a REF Women's Forum changed your evolution as a leader? How is it aligned with your purpose?

Sure it has. For me, leadership is an ongoing process, and the best way to evolve as a leader is to continuously learn and grow through dynamic and elaborated interaction with different kinds of leaders who share the same values and similar challenges. This scenario was totally aligned with my purpose in life, which is to be a positive, supportive person for every individual in my network: family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

Why is the UN's International Women's Day theme "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress" important in general and for business leaders?

I think is very important because only with equal access to the full range of financial services, do women stand a chance of social and economic empowerment.

Tell us about the women's financing initiative "Financing and Changing Lives for Gender Equality", that your company is running

This project, which involves General Managers and Board Directors, has the purpose of financing entrepreneur women. We believe that only with equal access to the full range of needs-based financial services do women stand a chance of social and economic empowerment.

In the first year, we have impacted more than 1000 women. We are very proud because we are contributing to creating a society where all women, regardless of their background, identity, or experiences, feel valued, respected, and empowered to participate fully in all aspects of life.