Mynd Consulting, a Davao-based social network management software provider, was recently accorded membership into the prestigious Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA).
The founder, Myrna Padilla, is considered to be a technology outsourcing stalwart, having built the company from nothing more than a drive to use the Internet to communicate with loved ones.
From providing simple graphic designs, Padilla grew her consulting firm into a full-fledged web design and development company targeting specifically social networking applications. Mynd Consulting also provides social media management systems (SMMS) that allows clients to monitor multiple social media services. Eventually, the company has developed the OFW Watch Android Mobile Applications service — as tools for OFWs to empower themselves and give them the capacity to help each other. Also, Mynd created a service that provides their clients and programmers to develop CRM Solutions.
At first glance, the affable but firm Myrna seems to be a driven career woman who has achieved a lot in her life as technology entrepreneur. In reality, Myrna is one of the few inspirations who only chanced upon technology as a means to develop a business. Prior to being an outsourced business owner, Myrna was once an overseas Filipino worker – a domestic helper, to be exact.
Myrna grew up in a poor fishing village in Laoay, Bohol. She used to swim daily in open sea to collect seaweeds and seashells to sell. The money she earned would be used to buy food for her family. She has known hardship at a very young age but vowed to survive and help her family.
“Life was never easy but my family and I learned how to survive. But I thought that we shouldn’t be living like this for the rest of our lives. I knew that only by moving away would we ever change our lives,” said Myrna during the PSIA’s fourth General Membership Meeting held last December, where her company was also officially inducted as member.
In 1988, she traveled to Singapore then later to Hong Kong where she served as a domestic helper — a job she kept for 20 years. In this period of time, she constantly felt empty, missing her family especially her two children whom she left in the Philippines. Myrna describes that her work as a domestic helper was essentially taking care of someone else’s children first, so she could then take care of her own children.
Padilla shared her life with other domestic helpers living in Hong Kong, most of whom were fighting homesickness and emptiness in a foreign land. She was stunned at the heartwrenching stories of exploitation of her fellow domestic helpers in the hands of difficult and often abusive employers.
“If Filipinos back home heard how difficult life was for domestic helpers working abroad, they would not have wanted to leave, but the other domestic helpers also understood that going home was not an option so they had to put up with all the hardships,” she asserted.
Prompted by what she learned from the appalling stories of her kababayans, Padilla set out in 1999 to establish the Mindanao Hong Kong Workers’ Federation, which helped dozens of exploited OFWs working in Hong Kong. At this point in time, she learned how to use the Internet, utilizing technology to connect with her family back home and teaching the same to her fellow Filipinos.
“I was blessed to have been taught how to use the Internet. It changed a lot of things in my life and I saw it as a great equalizer, especially my kababayans,” said Myrna.
Since then, Myrna has continued to learn more about the Internet for a variety of purposes. She was able to put up her first BPO, the Mynd Tech Management Services (later becoming Mynd Consulting), in 2006. She also founded the International Federation of OFWs and Families in 2008 and later became the vice president of the Davao Software Industry, Inc.
Because of her work, both for OFWs and for software development, she started to be a regular advisor in several corporate social responsibilities. One of these is the OWWA Microsoft Tulay, a livelihood training program for returning OFWs. She was also named as the first global ambassador of the Telecentre.org’s Digital Literacy Campaign.
Padilla continues her work as an advocate for social change among OFWs, counting herself as one. One of her projects in the pipeline is an online monitoring and reporting system of OFWs who would want to update their family members of their whereabouts and other concerns. Users can update the service, simply called OFW Watch, through their mobile phones if they do not have their own computers.
“I see this as a way to prevent exploitation of our kababayans abroad. By using social media, we’ll be able to link together OFWs and help them whenever we can. This is also a way for me to aid the kind of people who, like me, have also toiled to get their families out of poverty,” said Myrna.
As a guest speaker at the recent PSIA gathering, Myrna also thanked the members of the PSIA for continuing to provide jobs to many Filipinos, to keep them together with their loved ones, in their home country. Furthermore, she vows for continuous assistance to her fellowmen through her new found allies at the PSIA family.