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Meet Anna Chua-Norbert, the ad industry's diversity champion

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

INTERVIEW: Promoting inclusion runs in Anna Chua-Norbert’s blood.

Her father's daughter. Anna Chua-Norbert poses with dad, Gil G. Chua, DDB Philippines' Chairman and CEO.

In this interview with Chief of Staff Asia, she candidly recalled that at a very young age, her parents opened her eyes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Her mother, a writer, ran a foundation advocating for children’s rights, while her dad is a feminist who supports women’s economic empowerment. Nobody was left behind in family reunions as her grandparents would include everyone in the clan.


Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Women Leading Change Awards did not crown the advertising agency DDB Group Philippines’ Chief Culture Officer as a “Diversity Champion” for no reason. Chua-Norbert is the first Filipino to be named as such for her innovative leadership and achievement in the Creatives industry, specifically for what she has been doing at one of the top global integrated marketing communications groups.


In her acceptance speech, Chua-Norbert said, “Human relationships drive the success of any business and if our choices are dictated by doing right by others, we will likely do well and do good… There’s real business to be gained in being kind. At DDB Group Philippines, we do well and we do good.”


The HR champ took us to the core of her heart — DEI and kindness, the combination that she thinks set her organisation apart from the rest.


Welcome to The Culture Hub


In 2017, she became the Group Culture Officer for DDB Philippines. Her first project was to ensure that the company stayed true to its word – putting its employees first.


“The Culture Hub looks after our people, that makes them feel like part of the family. We also put structure in our engagement plan. We need to see how everyone can engage, and be appreciated,” Chua-Norbert explains.


She explains that the hub makes DDB Philippines unique.


“Because when a person is hired, the whole employment journey is made complete with the Culture Hub, making it seamless.


“When it comes to employee engagement, that’s where we set our eyes on and it worked,” she continues.


Her main priority is their people. “We defined what ‘people first’ means so we focused on the Culture of Holistic Health. With it, we look after our people in the five aspects of their lives: personal, mental, physical, financial, and career.”


Chua-Norbert especially mentioned how she saw many people in the advertising industry suffer from financial losses after working for many years. She aspires to stop this trend for future generations and aims to prevent employees from “dying without money on their deathbeds.”


“I think it is the responsibility of the company to provide them with the assets and teach them how to handle money,” she says.


Speaking about DDB Philippines’ multi-faceted Holistic Health programme, she said it was started because she noticed that young people in their office have been diagnosed with hypertension in their annual physical exams.


“These people are investing their lives in our company and there must be a solution. No one needs to die in the creative industry.”


She disclosed that spending for their people’s wellness is not seen as an expense, but as a sustainability programme for the company.


“The happier people are, the more productive and the more engaged they are,” she adds.


This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's exclusive interview with Anna Chua-Norbert, Chief Culture Officer of DDB Philippines. For further coverage please see the below link:


DDB Philippines combats attrition

DDB Philippines gears up on kindness at the workplace

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