By Joseph Cueto on August 8, 2015
You may know Reema Chanco from the weekly sports news program on GMA 7, GAME. Or maybe you know her from her slew of Solar Sports programs such as SportsDesk and Rookie Manual? If those shows still don't ring a bell, Reema was also a host for Basketball TV’s NBA Jam and a VJ for MTV.
Her resume however, doesn't end there. Beyond the television screen, Reema is a player for the Ultimate Frisbee Philippine Team and a certified fitness trainer. She supports various social advocacies like the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the United Nations’ My World Campaign, to name a few. To top it all off, Reema is a thriving entrepreneur seeking to establish her own restaurant brand in the country.
After graduating with an Organizational Communication and Marketing Management from De La Salle University in 1997, Reema had designs of working for large multinational companies, primarily in the banking sector.
After 10 years, her resume is colored like a rainbow - a stint at a renowned multinational bank, shows that cemented her as a well-known TV-and-sports personality, and entrepreneur. With her husband Erik Waldie, she runs Wingman, a popular and authentic casual dining American Grille restaurant, notably known for their buffalo wings, beef and chicken burgers, and fish and chips.
So how did she make the leaps from her initial aspirations of working for a company to forging a successful career in media to being a self-made entrepreneur? Reema shares with Kalibrr and with you how she made it happen. In her own words, here's what it took to pull it all off.
On making the decision to change careers: "Chalk it up as thinking that my mom’s path was my thing as well."
My first job was being a part of the bank’s contact center handling phone-based transactions. I spent three years there. It was a time where I learned a lot about myself. Though I enjoyed the company of friends, I eventually realized I was not happy at the job. I get emotionally affected and attached. For instance, if someone calls to complain, I would take it personally. There were some aspects of the job that were making me frustrated.
The turning point for me happened during a vacation spent with the family. On the way home, I kept on crying on the plane. I did not want to go back to reality. My mom said, “You have to rethink things. Why are you crying?” On the other hand, I grew up with my mom loving her banking job. I felt a disconnect in the sense that I did not like where I was even if I was doing what my mom was doing. Chalk it up as thinking that my mom’s path was my thing as well. So I decided to quit. When I quit, my sister, who was also a professional dancer, enrolled in production and was involved in events. I tagged along with her for raket purposes.
On letting life surprise you: "I told myself, 'If nobody contacts me anymore, I’ll go back to having a corporate job but, while people are interested I’ll ride the wave.”
Going with my sister in her projects as a de facto production assistant was, for me, my first exposure to show business. Aside from that, as my first business venture, my brother and I, who is into computers, set up a gaming and internet shop that ran for a year-and-a-half. It was not a successful venture. This was when I learned I liked having my own business and not working for another company. I enjoyed being able to decide what to do on my own time. I also began to understand that having your own business was a tough job. In the end, I realized that I was capable of having my own business. The money was a factor though. In my old corporate job, my happiness was low but I was assured of a certain amount of salary that will come in. Here, you have a variable schedule and variable profit as well.
An opportunity to work on TV opened up as well. I was part of the first-ever reality show on Philippine TV called “The Exchange” by Probe Productions. It was my first TV experience and I enjoyed it a lot. I told myself, “If nobody contacts me anymore, I’ll go back to having a corporate job but while people are interested, I’ll ride the wave.”After it was aired, fortunately, a production outfit called for another show. The wave, if you can call it that way, lasted for 12 years.
After starting my career hosting shows on topics such as interior design, gadgets, and lifestyle-oriented programs, I continued my work as a courtside reporter for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Philippine Basketball League (PBL) broadcasts. I felt I found my niche covering the happenings in the sports world. I became an anchor for sports-oriented shows such as Solar Sports Desk and NBA Jam (Solar Sports), Rookie Manual (ABS-CBN), and GAME! (GMA News TV). I also won a contest to be an MTV VJ, hosted an educational program on women’s issues called 3R for GMA and TV 5.
On building a business: "Worry about having a good product. The money will come."
In 2012, I was living with my then-boyfriend Erik. I decided that it was time to set my sights toward building something for the long-term. I know I won’t be able to do TV jobs forever plus I wanted to have my own family as well. Wingman, which was Erik’s baby, was on its second year. I chose to join Erik to focus on the Wingman venture.
I know our partnership. When he and I do things together, it goes well. I handled the financial side of the business. Nothing happens by coincidence. Thanks to my background in banking, I got to know how to manage finances well. I didn't know then that the skills in managing money were boosted by learning how to properly handle my work on TV.
Believe it or not, it’s easy to come up with money for a business. My advice is not to worry about the money first. Rather, worry about having a good product. The money will come. There are so many people with boatloads of cash but not all people have the smarts to create a product.
There are a number of ways to build a business. Partner up with friends, who have various strengths to offer. Take advantage of social media by creating an online store. If you are serious about their dream, you have to do the work. Don’t settle on having a mediocre business by having the pwede na mindset. Your customers will feel if you are coming from the heart or only about the money. If you have access to money but have trouble creating a product, the franchise route is also an option.
As Reema’s journey suggests, a lot of times, the best laid plans don't pan out, which ultimately, is fine. The ride will definitely be worth it, even with all the peaks and valleys involved.
Does Reema’s story inspire you to reach harder for your dreams and aspirations? What advice did she give that you found useful? What other lessons can be gleaned from her story? Let us know in the comments section below.