Interviewee Name: Lally Rementilla, VP Finance and Administration
Company Name: Nulogy Corporation
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Lally Rementilla: I’m a senior finance professional who has had a longstanding career in the technology and media industries. By day, and most recently, I’m about all things tech and digital, and by night I’m a mother with two young kids who is trying to have lots of fun with her kids along the way.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Lally Rementilla: Every so often, I would say every five years, I formulate a vision of myself and encapsulate it into a couple of words or phrase and make that the criteria by which I conduct myself. I’ll give you an example – back in the year 2000 I went through this exercise of identifying what that vision was going to be, and I called that vision Hip Accountant. Dare I say it was like a brand, though not necessarily The Brand, but it’s really that catchphrase of what I wanted to use as a criteria by which I was going to be conducting myself, and the criteria by which I made decisions whether they be for career, social or personal in nature, so I had Hip Accountant.
A couple of things contributed to creating that vision, at this point I had pursued and completed my CMA (Certified Management Accountant) designation so that’s the accountant piece. It was also around this time that I made the move from Lucent to Lavalife, and Lavalife was such a hip company with a great brand that encapsulated a lot of the values and personality that was in that Hip Accountant vision that I had. Personally I moved closer to the downtown area because I just wanted a lifestyle that fits with the vision that I had. And I also took on a lot of board memberships across a variety of different not-for-profits, but again to fulfill that vision I actually joined an arts board at that time, and getting the designation, moving to a company that was hip and happening, physically relocating myself and being involved in the community that was more related to the vision that I had, and was a way for me to integrate my personal life with all other aspects of my life. And to this day, I go about having that vision and basing the decisions of those criteria.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Lally Rementilla: Being a very busy working mother, I would say downtime is what I define as time for myself. There are three things that I do. Obviously, one of them is practicing my yoga. Another one is I read, so on a day-to-day basis I read light business biographies. When I need something that’s more escapist in nature I read a lot of chick-lit, and sometimes I cannot peel myself away from it because it is such a way for me to relax and unwind. The third thing I do is travel. Friends I’ve known since nursery school we have tried to make it a point to get together and do a Girl’s Weekend or Girl’s Week at least once a year.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Keep things simple. It’s the KISS mentality and something that I have learned that really works. I don’t think we achieve anything by making our lives complicated. I think it’s all a matter of keeping things simple and streamlined. I guess it’s the minimalist in me talking.
- Don’t be too greedy. I’ve seen a lot of really bad decisions being made because of greed. Having lived in both a Third World country and a First World country has given me a real appreciation of the things that are really important in life and I shake my head every time I see decisions being made because of greed.
- In taking risks, 99 percent of the time you have nothing to lose in doing something that’s risky in nature. It’s relative, and that’s the beauty in having lived in both a Third and First World country is that you see the perspective of what’s the worst thing that can happen in life. People are going around thinking that they have so much to lose and there is not a lot in life that we can lose except obviously life itself.
- Network, Network, Network! The power of human relationships I found is something that’s fundamental to humanity itself. In whatever we do, we should always strive to build a network of people around us, again whether it be in our professional life or your motherhood or your personal life or your social life. I think it’s always of great benefit and great strength to us to have a network around us.
- Location, Location, Location! Obviously it works in real estate, but I also think it works well in being able to identify opportunities. I’m a believer that things happen for a reason, and a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Lally Rementilla: I tend to take a more creative perspective in idea generation and therefore when asked to come up with an idea, I always try to identify the most unique and out-of-the-box way of doing things. And I don’t limit myself, it’s a practice of doing self-brainstorming and I let my ideas and my imagination and my brain go without filtering and I let it come out because I know that eventually I’ll see the relationships and be able to connect the dots to generate something that’s great and will be relevant to the problem or issue that I’m needing to face.
Most often than not, I take my time on things, not to say that I don’t rush to make quick decisions. Ideas tend to be more organic in nature and sometimes ideas can just happen and therefore I always keep my mind thinking and open to generating ideas as I go.
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Lally Rementilla: When I was in high school, I remember the second year I had a religion teacher because I went to a Catholic school. My religion teacher had always inspired us in different ways, taught us to look at the world in different and innovative ways and sometimes quirky ways. But when she gave us this quotation and the quotation by the way is “Collect then select,” she meant for it to inspire a generation of young women who were socially programmed to follow a particular path in life. But what she really inspired us to do was to collect, meaning to take the energy and the time and the opportunity to have as much opportunities as possible to be involved in something and to take the time to immerse ourselves in different ways and different walks of life, different perspectives of doing things, and then make a decision at the end that we’re going to be committed to.
The reason why she taught us this and the reason why this is something that’s resonating with me and I’m sure with some of my other classmates at that time was that she talked to us about this quotation in the context of dating where she said, “You’re young, you’re only in the second year of high school, try to meet as many boys and men as you can in your life then make a selection when you find “the one” and stick with that decision and then commit yourself to that person.”
I found that that perspective goes beyond dating and men. I think it’s something that can be applied in life in general.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Lally Rementilla: For me success is the ability for you to look yourself in the eye and say to yourself that you’ve maximized every potential talent or asset that you have within you to make a difference in the life of people and it doesn’t necessarily have to be all the people in the whole country. But at least you’ve made a difference in at least one other person’s life. This is a definition that transcends the business world, so it can be applied in a personal or social setting.
As far as the formula to achieve success is concerned, the first is the relentless pursuit of excellence and not settling for what you have, and trying to use your talents for the greater good. There is a lot of hard work associated with this, especially people who are overcome with a lot of challenges have to work extra hard to address those. Integrity I think is going to be very key, it’s staying true to yourself because when you are there maximizing your potential, your assets, your talents, it’s essentially working with one main ingredient and that’s your integrity and you’re going to have to be happy in a very deep way with all the decisions that you make in order to achieve the success.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Lally Rementilla: The step I tend to take is to constantly be learning and to do that both formally whether it’s achieving a designation or informally. When I graduated from university I had a BA, but as I worked I took my MBA part-time. I did a CMA designation and I pursued a lot of other training opportunities that my organizations had supported me with. And there is also informal training whether it be immersing myself or taking on a very difficult assignment which I had no qualifications to do and that’s one way for me to learn.
The second step is to have a real strong support system both in business and in my personal life.
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Lally Rementilla: I alluded to that earlier, which is when you start out, take time to identify your strengths. If you take my advise to play with your strengths, and collect and select which is my favourite quotation, if you put them all together, I think that’s the perfect recipe for those starting out, which is you collect opportunities, you collect different experiences, and then identify your strengths, select them then run with them.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
- Warren Buffet: I believe he is one of the world’s greatest investors and one of the most down-to-earth persons that I know. I would ask him if he could take the time out to help me pick some stocks for my kid’s portfolios so they are pretty much set to go.
- Isadore Sharp the founder of Four Seasons: I would like to let him know that I really appreciate his vision in putting the level of customer service as something that’s key to building a successful business.
- Vincent van Gogh: I had a chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last March and I think it was a big loss to the art world for someone like him who was so driven and talented to have such a short and limited time as an artist. I would tell him that I greatly admire what he achieved in the little time that he had.
- Arianna Huffington: I would tell her she is one of the most fearless people that I know.
- Sheryl Sandberg: I would invite her and say, “You go girl, you define what it is like to be a female in technology.”
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Lally Rementilla: A lot of the business biographies that I read have had an impact on me, but if there is one that has made a practical impact in my life, it would be Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, which is a book about networking. I also think it’s a book about humanity, relationships, having personal values and living and integrating your life. What I liked about the book, is first of all it was practical in nature, but it was also a great success story, and it taught me to be more fearless. It taught me to reach out to people more in my career. I borrowed it from the library and I loved it so much that I bought it and bought a second copy just in case I need to lend it to someone for their own inspiration.
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?
Lally Rementilla: I would spend the two years trying to get off the island.
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Lally Rementilla: I think of life as an opportunity for us to make changes, and the ability to change things within the sphere of influence that you have and be able to change that sphere of influence as well as you grow.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Lally Rementilla: I have a very deep Catholic background so I pray a lot. I also try as much as possible to talk to my kids because talking to kids and seeing the potential in them, and seeing the way they view the world I think is something that can ground people and make them feel really good about themselves, and it really nurtures your soul.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Lally Rementilla: I have been working with so many spreadsheets in my life that I would wish for a perfect vision to last me for the rest of my life.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Lally Rementilla: I make someone laugh!
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