Cristina Castro-Cabral: Embodiment Of Leadership Qualities
Walking around the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus after interviewing an administrative director, I chanced upon a copy of John Maxwell?s The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader at a book sale. The self-help book was recently discussed at the office and I thought it was about time I started bettering my leadership skills; I bought a copy.
Promising that I?d read at least a chapter a week?the instructions of Maxwell were to read slow, internalize, then apply?I was mentally searching for people I personally know who I could use as a benchmark against what the author was describing as an ideal leader. Only as I was transcribing my interview with Dr. Cristina Castro-Cabral, director of UST?s Public and Alumni Affairs Office (PAAO), did I find my perfect candidate. Not only was Cabral a vibrant personality who was a pleasure to talk to, she undoubtedly epitomized ?leader? in everything she said and every gesture she made.
Passion, commitment and positive attitude
To reinforce what I knew about Cabral from her curriculum vitae, I asked her to run down what to her was a typical day.
?I wake up at 4 a.m. so I can get to school in time for the 7-8 a.m. class that I teach at the College of Commerce. I then perform my duties as PAAO director from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This occupies most of my time as my office has three functions: 1) the public affairs, so anything about public relations; 2) alumni affairs, we monitor alumni activities and try to streamline all activities in relation to UST?s 400th anniversary in 2011; and 3) job placement activities of the university,? Cabral said.
She said she often worked past 5 p.m., especially when there are alumni homecomings to attend that sometimes end way past midnight. ?We have to make ourselves visible because we believe the alumni will be a potent source for us to drum beat our concerns regarding 2011,? she added.
The conviction with which she spoke conveyed her positive attitude about all the challenges she faced every day, Saturdays and summer breaks included. ?We do not have summer breaks here. When you?re a top admin, you don?t have a break. Even if it?s summer and the students aren?t around, we?re very busy because public relations activities and alumni concerns are continuous.?
A character with charisma
With a full calendar of official appointments, Cabral seemed to barely have time for a breather. But I dared ask her what she does in her free time. She answered, ?Sundays are spent with my husband and 18-year-old daughter. I also am a member of the UST graduate school academic theatre. I once played the lead role of Candida in the Portrait of the Filipina as an Artist by Nick Joaquin and got the chance to represent the university and the country in South Korea when we took the production there.?
I found out the attractive professor-cum-director?s acting prowess was discovered by her former dean, Reverend Jose Antonio Auriaga, who is now a university regent. ?It was when I was still taking up my doctorate degree, after our group dance for him during his birthday celebration. Rev. Auriaga didn?t know my name, but he said he noticed I was a good dancer. And that I would, therefore, make a good actress.?
Having a very basic understanding of theater, I had a good inkling of the hassles of perfecting a production worthy of being brought to some other country. But considering Cabral was up to putting a good show while running the PAAO office like clockwork had me thinking about all the stress she was undoubtedly under. Stress is supposed to cause skin problems. Yet, she has very good skin. How come stress doesn?t manifest in Cabral?s physical appearance?
No mid-life crisis for her
Cabral then related how she came to trust CetaphilŪ Gentle Skin Cleansers, water-based products that are specially formulated for any skin type and condition. ?I have very sensitive skin and I actually have contact dermatitis on the hands. I could only use soap then, which I used on my face too. But my face started to dry out, particularly around the eyes.?
Since she obviously didn?t suffer from scars, I egged her on to elaborate. ?That?s when I saw a dermatologist and she gave me a milk-like concoction. It was very cumbersome to go to the doctor whenever I ran out of her special concoction, so I eventually asked for an alternative. She said CetaphilŪ and I?ve been using it since then,? she said.
Cabral attested that CetaphilŪ Gentle Skin Cleansers didn?t irritate skin like the regular soaps she used, nor strip it of its natural protective barrier. This is because CetaphilŪ products are fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and won?t disturb the skin?s natural pH balance, making it an excellent choice for Cabral?s daily skin cleansing. Cabral uses the original liquid formulation for the face, but CetaphilŪ also comes in a bar for the rest of the body and a variant, CetaphilŪ Oily Cleanser, for oily skin.
Focusing on courage and responsibility
Stress indeed doesn?t faze Cabral, as evidenced by her physical and inner glow. When asked where the leadership qualities of homing in on her job and courage to handle her responsibilities, she said it was her self-imposed value of hard work.
?There are things you cannot compromise and that?s be hard work. I have to prove myself through hard work, giving 101%. Otherwise, I?d be cheating myself. That?s what I tell my students. It will always pay off. Very taxing and tiring, but in the end, they will only have good words for you. And you become the benchmark by which all your successors will be gauged. Always prove you are worthy of the position.?
An admirable leader, indeed. How long does she intend to keep the pace? ?For as long as I am productive, as long as I have output, I?ll keep on delivering. I know someone better and more intelligent will take my position. At that time, I would have done my best. No regrets, no looking back.?
* Cabral is experienced in human relations and management. She is a true blue Thomasian, graduating in 1983 from UST College of Commerce with a degree in Economics. She is an alumna of the UST Graduate School, having finished both her M.S. degree in Commerce major in Business Economics, and her Ph.D. degree in Economics, Magna cum Laude. She is also a much sought after speaker and resource person in the areas of macro and macro economics, globalization, public relations, work ethics, personality development and social graces.
About the Author: Karla Gae L. Pascua is a senior copywriter at one of the country's leading public relations agencies. Pascua has been writing professionally for over a decade, seven years of which were under the stewardship of the industry's acknowledged father of public relations, former UST professor, and journalism textbook author, Charlie Agatep.