Woman of Substance: Socorro Yap Sun

Photo by Eros Goze, Styling by Ushi Sato and Make Up by Ginno Alducente, “Mariposa” wrap by Dita Sandico-Ong and Diamonds from Liali Jewellery


Socorro Yap Sun

Top Executive

Socorro Yap Sun oversees 70 countries for the Nestle Nutrition business, and is in charge of taking care of the performance, welfare and development of some 500 employees.  As Regional Human Resources Head for the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Sub-Sahara Africa, this lady has a few lessons to teach and quite a few misconceptions to correct, for those pushing to get ahead in the corporate ladder.

Quite different from the stereotypical aggressive and stressed out jet-setting female top executive you would expect to find in major corporations around the world, Coritte, as she is known to her friends, is easy to smile and is spontaneous.  She is also a good listener and thoughtful conversationalist.  The calm air about her and her gentle pleasant presence are what strike you first when you meet her.  Though with this Filipina achiever, you can trust that your first impression is not a misleading one. In fact, it gives you a peek at how she actually conducts her life and her work.

Socorro has shining credentials and started her career at the prestigious San Miguel Corporation in the Philippines.  Here, her different approach to work was already evident. At one time, she refused an offer for a promotion that would fast track her career, believing that it would be unfair to her colleagues who were more senior than her – a move so rare in the corporate rat race where everybody is jostling their way to the top, and where office politicking is the order of the day.

She has over 31 years in Nestle spent in key leadership positions. She started with the company’s Philippine organization and diligently worked her way up from Personnel Officer, Asst. Vice President – HR Management to HR Team Leader – Nestlé Globe project from 1979 to 2004.  In a measure of admirable patience and conviction, Socorro, through all this time, resisted the pull of foreign posting – the acceptance of the latter a usual circumstance if one wanted to get ahead in any multinational company’s system.  She says as a matter of fact, “I opted to wait for so many years before I accepted a posting abroad.  My family is my first priority, and I had to make sure that we will move only when all of us are ready.


In 2005, she finally took the plunge and accepted the post of HR Director – for Nestlé Southern African Region’, wholly supported by her family. Her husband, Dr. Facundo Sun, offered to take a sabbatical from his medical practice, and her only son was now in his late teens.

Socorro hit South Africa with tremendous impact.  Her first order of business was to ensure that the HR function is effective and efficient; leading a team of over 100 HR managers, specialists and administrative staff, redefining the situation of some 3,000 employees.  It was a bold move. One where she had to deal with the difficult job of having employees moved, at times terminated, as well as dealing with resistance that the change generated.  It was particularly hard in the beginning considering how she was viewed with a lot of caution and skepticism – as a woman, and an Asian one at that.  Despite that, Socorro took on the challenge successfully and achieved what she had set out to do.  She shares, “You just have to be clear with what you have to do and be sensitive to the environment as it will make the journey somewhat easier.”

With her contributions recognized, Socorro earned her current position in January 2010, in charge of an extensive area and sizeable workforce.  Here, she continues, not only to lead HR talent management and organization changes, but also to develop company leaders and to foster a high performance corporate culture the organization is known for.

She says of her success, “I am very lucky to have a supportive family and had supportive bosses whom I can be very candid with.”  She adds, “I’m also very fortunate that I did not have to sacrifice my family, nor did I lose my core values and my character for the sake of my career.”

Asked what was it that helped her get to where she is right now, Socorro thoughtfully answers, “Resilience, I guess; being strong, flexible and open to new ideas.  Those are the qualities that have helped me through all the years and challenges.” She furthers, “And it wasn’t aggressiveness or being unduly hard that helped me succeed and win the confidence of people.  It was gentle firmness.”

Truly, these are the admirable qualities of an empowered Filipina.