Meet Joanne de Guzman Rico, the Head of Marketing at Salma Rehabilitation Hospital, which is part of SEHA – the largest network of government medical facilities in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
A Story of an Empowered Woman
Joanne de Guzman Rico is a story of an empowered woman who is rising above adversity. From humble beginnings in Manila, she has gone a long way from her first job to now a truly inspiring global professional.
A consistent A-student, Joanne believes that having a strong academic foundation will serve as a springboard to success. Armed with resilience, grit, and ambition, she did not let poverty define her future so she studied very hard to earn scholarships. Her mother’s and family’s sacrifices became her inspiration and her drive to achieve more. She dedicated all her time and effort to complete each school year with academic and special awards so she could maintain her scholarship and help finance her education. In 1999, she graduated Valedictorian with 7 other academic, extracurricular, and special awards. She then took Bachelor of Arts, Major in Philosophy at the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy in the University of the Philippines – Diliman, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Right after graduation, she joined Globe Telecom where she started her career as a Sales Administrative Associate, then later as a Customer Service Associate. While working at Globe, she received awards and special recognition from the company. In 2005, she joined Ministop Philippines as a Franchise Marketing Officer – her first break in Marketing. Despite not having a formal education in the field of Marketing, she won the Rookie of the Year Award on her 6th month in Ministop. On her 7th month, and only at age 23 then, she was handpicked by top management and was promoted to Advertising and Promotions Manager, where she headed a 7-person team and managed the main brand with a chain of over 250 stores. Joanne was mentored by one of the Philippine’s business tycoons, and was trained at Ministop’s Head Quarters in Tokyo, Japan so she could learn, replicate, and implement the core brand strategy in the local business arena.
In 2009, Al-Ahli Hospital – the largest private premium hospital in Doha, Qatar, took Joanne and later appointed her as the organization’s Marketing Executive. She was the first Filipino woman to officially breakthrough the space of healthcare marketing in Qatar.
In 2012, Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, UAE took Joanne as part of its pioneer team, where her main task was to introduce the brand in the emirate and grow its market share in the capital, within the country, and within the region. In the inception and growth stages of Burjeel, Joanne single-handedly managed all marketing campaigns of the brand across all platforms. She was awarded Burjeel Star Employee in 2013 and was recognized as Burjeel Star during Burjeel’s 2nd Annual Day in 2014. In 2015, Joanne was promoted to Senior Marketing Executive and a year later, she became the Assistant Marketing Manager of the brand, where she managed the PR communications and corporate events verticals of the brand.
In April 2018, Joanne joined NMC Healthcare – the largest private healthcare company in the UAE. NMC acquired Bareen International Hospital, which has been on negative profitability for 3 years since it started its operations. In less than a year after Joanne joined the company as the Marketing and Sales Manager, Bareen started growing patient volume and began gaining profits. As a result, the hospital expanded by adding more clinics, doctors, and beds to capture the continuous rise of patient footfall in its outpatient and inpatient departments. Joanne became the first Filipino woman in the leadership team of Bareen and played a significant role in the milestone that became a feather on the hat of both Bareen and NMC. Due to this breakthrough, NMC stepped up business expansion plans, acquired more medical centers in Abu Dhabi and winged each of them under Bareen Management team – which is now grouped as a cluster. In less than two years, Bareen Cluster has grown from managing one to eight medical facilities. In the same speed, Joanne was promoted to Head of Marketing and Sales of the cluster. She spearheaded functions related to Marketing and Business Development – from brand positioning to increasing brand awareness and growing brand loyalty to the facility, from increasing footfall to generating revenue and raising profitability for each medical facility.
In August 2022, Salma Rehabilitation Hospital under SEHA, took Joanne and posted her as Head of Marketing.
An Advocate of Children’s Right to Education
Joanne’s greatest dream is to serve, give back, and be an instrument of change in the community. Having experienced it herself, she has a strong personal advocacy on the right of children to access education, especially the underprivileged segment. She has been a resilient sponsor of World Vision Philippines for 17 years and has been supporting many children together with their families and their communities in depressed areas of her home country. While working at Ministop Philippines, she launched the World Vision Coin Bank campaign across all Ministop stores. She opened doors to introduce World Vision’s Child Sponsorship Program to JG Summit employees and Ministop franchisees. Her commitment towards the cause prompted her to be one of the pro bono organizers of the event and to host the program. Currently, Joanne is one of the ambassadors and spokespersons of World Vision Philippines overseas.
In order to inspire other Filipino women to rise to the challenge no matter the circumstance and break glass ceilings, Joanne wrote a book chapter about her journey which was published in Disrupt 4.0 Filipina Women: BEING – The Fourth Book on Leadership by the Foundation for Filipina Women’s Network. The book was launched at the Gremio Literario in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2022.
Awards and Accolades
During her 18-year career, Joanne has received numerous awards and recognitions for her accomplishments. In 2017, she was recognized and awarded as the Marketing and Advertising Professional of the Year by The Filipino Times, a glitterati red-carpet event held in honor of exemplary Filipinos overseas. In 2018, Joanne was one of the nominees for the Search for Huwarang OFW, organized by 700 Club Asia through one of the biggest TV networks in the Philippines: GMA 7. In 2020, she was named as one of the Thought Leaders in Illustrado’s 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf, Legacy Edition. In 2021, Joanne was recognized as one of the Most Influential Filipina Women in the WorldTM by a US-based non-profit organization, Foundation for Filipina Women’s Network. She was the only awardee from the Middle East during that year. In 2022, she received an award for Outstanding Leadership during the Health 2.0 Conference in Dubai, UAE.
Joanne’s journey in large, multicultural organizations was and is not a walk in the park. The struggles are real and are most of the time, daunting. Breaking stereotypes of nationality and gender roles in the workplace is still an existing unspoken issue. Bringing with her core values such as faith, hard work, dedication, passion, and resilience, Joanne rose to the challenge, and trail-blazed with pride and confidence in the international arena.