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Scarlet Fuenteblanca, Vertiv Manila:
A Modern-Day Superwoman

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It is 6 p.m. on a weekday in Metro Manila. As darkness falls, many Filipinos begin to wind down their day, except for Scarlet Fuenteblanca who is just about to start hers.

She wakes up and welcomes her day with a sip of brewed coffee before getting her dose of dopamine by practicing her Zumba™ routine.

By 9 p.m., she clocks in at her work at Vertiv Manila, where she is one of its evaluators of Deviation of Policy requests.

Vertiv is the world’s leading critical digital infrastructure provider, which means Scarlet’s role constantly demands innovation and development. There, her colleagues count her as one of its most dependable employees. Among them is Aurora Arceo, a senior team lead for order management at the company. 

“Scarlet is focused. She is also open to feedback on how to grow as a senior team member. It’s challenging at times, but she works very hard to stay positive and learn as she can from each experience,” says Aurora.

Finding Balance in Life, Work, and Everything in Between

Scarlet wears many hats on top of her role at Vertiv. She works part-time as a certified Zumba™ instructor on weekends and represents the Philippines at the Zumba Community Council, which she describes as, “the United Nations of Zumba™.”

She’s also a passionate traveler, mountain climber, hiker, freediver, and certified open water diver. “Through travel, I learn a lot about other cultures and experience them through food and people,” she shares.

With her long list of roles outside and at the workplace, few would have known that she lives a full life while enduring a tremendous amount of pain from lupus every day.  

Lupus is a disease where one’s immune system attacks their own tissues and organs. It mimics the signs and symptoms of other diseases making it difficult to diagnose. 

There is no cure for this condition. Patients only undergo treatment to manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups, which may be triggered by something as simple as exposure to sunlight. In Scarlet’s case, lupus causes chronic pain. 

"Everyday, I have to deal with this pain from the moment I wake up until I lie down to sleep. Pain is everywhere—from my toes, my knees, my shoulders, my head!" she relates in jest.

Her ordeal began with a constant pain in her back, which spread to her shoulders and hands. As the pain grew worse, she started to have difficulty with her grip, sometimes causing her to drop a mug she’s holding. She lost a lot of hair too and was always fatigued.

But as Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami wrote in his book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” He meant that getting hurt is part of running, or any activity for that matter, and it’s up to the individual whether or not to continue pushing forward despite the pain.

Scarlet chooses to fight on. Although one could say she is a superwoman, she admits feeling depressed at times because of the incessant pain, but realized she could turn her weakness into strength.

"I try to show my colleagues that I can have perfect attendance too even though I am constantly sick and that I can still perform my tasks despite the pain I feel every day."

Aurora adds that Scarlet’s condition has never interfered with her work. Instead, she continues to be a role model at the company as she shares her knowledge and expertise with her teammates.

That is not to say that it has been easy for Scarlet to open up to her colleagues about her condition. When she received her diagnosis, she recalls crying, having so many questions, and fearing that she might lose her job because of it.

“I asked God for guidance. Then, I decided I couldn’t lie to my colleagues who are also my friends. I told my immediate superior the truth about my condition. I was ready to lose the job I’ve loved for quite some time. But to my surprise, my superiors, and even my manager, supported me!”

Aurora recounts feeling bad for Scarlet after learning about her condition and encouraging her to remain positive.

“But seeing how she carries herself and how she is handling the situation, she is a fighter. This gave some assurance that she will be fine,” Aurora adds.

A Supportive Culture Through Life’s Highs and Lows

As Scarlet’s superior, Aurora not only offers moral support but also flexibility to her requests for check-ups and listens to her when she needs someone to talk to.

This is the kind of supportive atmosphere that Vertiv promotes and practices every day, where 7 in every 10 employees say that, “people are encouraged to balance their work life and personal life.”

“The company encourages its employees to work only within the working hours as much as possible and use their vacation credits as necessary. Vertiv also breaks the monotony of day-to-day work by incorporating games and other fun activities during huddles,” according to Aurora.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly blurred the boundary between one’s life and work, the company remained committed to creating a balance between the two for its employees.

This included ensuring every employee is comfortable with their home office setup, continuing to promote work-life balance in a virtual setting, and accommodating extracurricular activities for its employees.

These allowed Scarlet and many others working at Vertiv to remain productive and pursue their passions without worrying about their jobs. Today, Scarlet still actively does part-time work as a Zumba™ instructor.

"When the pandemic hit, many companies laid off employees, but Vertiv exhausted every possibility to keep theirs. I was really worried because I consider myself one of the weakest links due to my chronic illness. Yet, I'm still here," says Scarlet.

The majority of the company’s employees share this sentiment on the company’s commitment to keeping its workforce intact. In the Great Place to Work® Trust Index™ survey, 84% of Vertiv employees believe that management would lay people off only as a last resort.

Scarlet adds that the support she received made her really appreciate working at Vertiv. In return, she's doing her best to do great work, "not because I am mandated to do it, but because I would like to repay them for their kindness."

Working at Vertiv has been a blessing for her who has been working at the organization for 18 years. She says that she doesn’t feel discriminated against by her colleagues and superiors. Instead, they support her so she can work despite her condition.

She’s also grateful to the company, believing they helped her survive lupus. Her HMO benefit allowed her to consult with the best doctors who were able to diagnose her condition right away.

“A lot of lupus warriors like me die because they were misdiagnosed since lupus mimics a lot of illnesses very well. That is why I am spreading awareness by sharing my personal experiences. And now that I have the right medication, I’m able to manage the pain and other symptoms of my condition.”

Scarlet’s experience is only one of the many happy stories employees have while working at Vertiv. These are stories of respect and camaraderie, which are two of the five dimensions in the Great Place to Work Trust Index™ model.

Through Vertiv’s and its employees’ support for their colleagues such as Scarlet, the organization not only showed it cares for its employees, but it also provides an atmosphere where everyone cares for each other.

On August 2021, Vertiv received its Great Place to Work-Certification™ with 7 in every 10 employees saying that, “taking everything into consideration, this is a great place to work.”

In a workplace where respect and camaraderie prevail, leaders understand that so much more happens in their employees’ lives within and outside work. At Vertiv, 7 in every 10 employees say that “management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.”

When an employee is also provided a space to thrive and be the best they can be in whatever they do, they develop a sense of pride, which allows them to go above and beyond what is expected of them. That is true at Vertiv where 8 in every 10 employees say that “people here are willing to give extra to get the job done.”

In this kind of relationship, both parties win. Employees become fully actualized persons as seen in the Trust Index© survey where 84% of Vertiv’s employees say, “I’m proud to tell others I work here.” In return, companies benefit from the innovation, creativity, and productivity that these employees provide.

So, at 6 a.m., as the sun begins to bathe Metro Manila with its amber glow, Scarlet ends another productive day at Vertiv. It may have its share of challenges, whether from a heavy workload or her battle with lupus, but she soldiers on.

“Working is easier when you know that your company is taking care of you, and you have work colleagues that you can call friends,” she says.

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