“Not all of us can do great things,” she said, “but we can do things with great love (and passion).”
Christina (nee Rodriguez) Laskowski was talking about the entrepreneurs STAC has mentored, some who have gone on to grow successful businesses on the advice she gave them in their nascence. Founded in 1993 by semiconductor industry giant Dado Banatao, the Science and Technology Advisory Council originally formed to provided pro-bono consulting to the Philippine government. Today, it is focused on “driving economic growth in the Philippines and US through holistic entrepreneurship,” by their own description on the STACSV website. Laskowski assumed the role of President in 1999, during Estrada’s presidency when government interests lay elsewhere. STAC’s activities consisted mostly of making introductions for Philippine government and private sector parties interested in engaging with high technology industries in Silicon Valley.
“Personally, I felt compelled to prove my thesis that we have the talent and diamonds in the rough in the Philippines’ back yard,” Laskowski explained.
That opportunity presented itself in 2007 and 2008, when, bolstered by its momentum in the budding call center industry, Philippine leadership decided to pursue new industries along the same lines of using innovative solutions to solve problems. At this point, it was the Philippine government who drove the engagement process. By August of 2009, STAC had signed an MOA with the three departments of the Philippine executive branch—the Department of Science & Technology, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade & Industry. Later that year, the collaboration produced a 5-year strategic plan that included developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the likeness of Silicon Valley.
“At that point, elements of an ecosystem existed, but it was extremely fragmented,” said Laskowski.
Since then, her efforts, along with her colleagues (Dennis Fernandez and Denny Roja, to name just two), have helped develop the Philippine tech startup ecosystem. This includes research and development at the University level, supportive capital markets and supportive IP law. The final piece, Laskowski feels, will be support and offtake by private businesses in the Philippines.
If you happen to be on the Manila side when you read this, you can learn more about the ecosystem on November 16 and 17, 2017 at the 9th NICP Summit and digitalcitiesPH Launch followed by the EGOV Awards. Go to nicp.org.ph to learn more about it. Many of Laskowski’s collaborators will be speaking, including Tina Amper, founder of TechTalks.ph, and JoJo Flores, co-founder of LaunchGarage.
As I listened to her story, I marveled at this Mindanawan-American sitting across the table from me and wondered how some people manage to do so much more with flying time—raising two boys, steering a career from investment banking to management consulting, caring for parents, a husband, her friends—while others, like me, count the years for sport. After more than two decades of knowing her, I’ve gleaned no depletion in her glow and bubble, just a long string of achievements that comes from the marriage of talent and energy. And, yes, of course, passion.