Sheila Romero: Raising Strong Women is Her Greatest Legacy
Sheila Romero gets candid about how she navigates entrepreneurship together with her daughters Milka and Mandy.
Having daughters is truly special—something that Sheila Romero is incredibly grateful for. With an empire of businesses under her belt, including Globalport Terminals, Global City Mandaue, and F&S Holdings (with Air Asia Philippines being one of its subsidiaries), just to name a few, her daughters Milka and Mandy are slowly taking over the reins and have become successful businesswomen themselves. Milka runs a number of restaurants, including Sushi Nori, while Mandy recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University.
Like mother, like daughters
For Sheila, who is first and foremost a wife to Congressman Mikee Romero and mother of five kids—Milka, Miguel, Mandy, Santi, and Steff, raising a family while running their businesses has not been an easy feat. But her dedication and entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on both girls—influencing them to take the same direction. “As a mother, I’ve always strived to be their rock and their guide. And I’m grateful that they also see me as a mentor and role model,” she says. “The journey taught me to become a better wife, mother, and CEO.”
Today, the three work together in building their family’s legacy further. It allows their bonds to grow stronger, too. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to work side by side with them. And I couldn’t be prouder of all that they’ve achieved,” Sheila beams with pride.
Milka chimes in and shares that her very first business venture was with her mom. At that time, she was in third year college and was still learning so many things about navigating a startup. “When you’re in that age, you know, you’re stubborn,” Milka remembers with a laugh. “You think you’re always right. And that’s something that I appreciate now. My mom had the patience to teach me the ropes and still listen to my side of things even if she has more experience.”
While Sheila never pressured her children to join the family businesses and always gave them the freedom to pursue their passions and follow their own paths, Milka and Mandy saw the value in what she does and decided to become a part of it.
“When I chose to work with my family and move back to the Philippines, it was because I realized that I had two of the best mentors in business, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. My parents,” says Mandy. “I came home to the country because I was inspired by my parents. Two self-made individuals who paved their own paths.”
“As long as they are happy and fulfilled, I’m supportive of whatever direction they choose to take in life,” Sheila explains.
Leading with heart and hustle
Sheila Romero believes that parents serve as the biggest influences on their children. She also made it a point to instill values such as honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic—all of which have helped shape Milka and Mandy. Preparing them for their roles in the businesses was something she consciously put effort into as well—by providing them with a solid education and encouraging them to learn from mentors.
For Mandy, Sheila was her first teacher. “When I was young, I learned to believe in myself because she believed in me first. My work ethic today at 22 is built from the values my mom instilled in me then. My mom encouraged me to always give my all and to think outside the box. She would often remind me, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way.’”
Sheila allowed Milka to expand her wings by opening a restaurant while they acquired control of Air Asia. On the other hand, Mandy took the initiative to find a mentor who could guide her on the path to studying in an Ivy League school.
“As my kids got older, I made sure to provide them with the tools and resources they needed to develop their skills and grow as leaders,” Sheila recalls. “I also encouraged them to learn from mentors. For example, Mandy did a lot of on-the-job work in DC and attended numerous industry conferences and seminars to understand the power industry further. With Milka, having new business partners in the past years made her gain more experience and instilled in her the importance of delegation, communication, and collaboration.”
“I think it’s not only about preparing,” Milka shares. “It’s more of knowing that my mom is there as a guiding force. So malakas yung loob mo. And at the same time, I know that someone has my back. So, you can prepare as much as you want but life is always going to throw curve balls. More than anything, that’s what I was confident in. Giving the tools is enough but having that support system was really my key.”
Sheila emphasizes that above all else, she makes it a point to always be available whenever her daughters need advice on big decisions they make. “We also enjoy our bonding time together,” she shares. When the Romero girls are not traveling and exploring new cultures, they take a step back from their busy lives by simply relaxing at home or enjoying cocktails at Milka’s Bar 55 in Poblacion.
“She has been my biggest supporter throughout my entire life—always encouraging me to pursue my dreams and be the best version of myself,” Mandy adds. “Growing up, my mom taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, and compassion for others. She always led by example and taught me to center God in my life.”
Sheila, Milka, and Mandy Romero: Stronger together
Balancing the demands of running businesses with the dynamics of a family relationship can be quite challenging. But Sheila explains that they make it work by establishing clear roles and responsibilities within the business, setting aside a specific time and place for business discussions, and ensuring that Sundays are family time. “As directors, they are still in the learning stages of the companies they are involved in—to prepare for more prominent roles in the near future. When we post achievements in our family chat group, each one makes sure to show appreciation for their hard work. It is also where we update each one on what we’re doing.”
Separating work and personal life is critical to maintaining a healthy balance in their family as well. “We make sure to set clear boundaries and have designated times for family time and business time. As much as possible, during the weekends and family time, we avoid talking about work and focus on enjoying our weekend together. As a family, it is very critical that we celebrate our small personal wins and big achievements in school or at work. Celebrating these wins creates another avenue to meet up and bond during weekdays,” Sheila expounds.
It’s inevitable, whether in a business or a family, that conflicts or disagreements arise. And when they do, Sheila and her daughters approach them with an open mind and a willingness to listen to each other’s perspectives. “We try to find common ground and come up with solutions that benefit everyone. Ultimately, we value our family relationship above all else and strive to maintain that bond no matter what.”
Working with family members in their businesses has many benefits, too. For one, they share a common vision and a deep sense of trust, which makes decision-making and problem-solving much easier.
Maintaining the values and principles that have made their businesses successful is something Sheila, Milka, and Mandy Romero hope to continue. Most importantly, Sheila hopes to leave a legacy not just with her daughters but with the communities where her businesses are at. “It is my goal to leave a positive impact and a difference in the lives of the Filipino people.”
Words GRETCHEN GATAN FRAGADA
Photography ED SIMON
Makeup GERY PENASO, ANN PARBA, and TWINKLE BERNARDO
Hair DALE MALARI, JAY MORTERA, and JOMAR DELA CRUZ
Styling ROSHNI MIRPURI and SIYA DARYANI for THE CLOSET CULTURE
Shoot Coordination ANTHONY MENDOZA
Sittings Editor MARGA MEDRANO-TUPAZ
Shot on location at ADMIRAL HOTEL
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