Olive Ramos, 47
CEO, TigerAir Philippines
In her 20s: "I worked for the government as a fiscal planning analyst." At 28, she became the VP of an electronics company, the youngest and only woman in executive management.
Success is… "pursuing jobs that conform to your beliefs and philosophy. Wealth follows people of innate talent and of noble character."
What you need to get there: "Never stop learning—from experiences, whether good or bad; and from people, regardless of stature, age, and orientation."
Advice: "Be wise and very discerning, but take risks to discover new paths."
Merlee Jayme, 47
Chief creative officer, DM9JaymeSyfu
In her 20s: Designed t-shirts, wrote and drew comic strips and cartoons.
Success is... "doing great work without having to step on others' toes, creating useless gossip and intrigues, spreading negativity, and being mean to everyone just to get ahead."
What you need to get there: "Be unafraid to do real hard work."
Advice: "Make sure you differentiate yourself from the rest. Discovering your equity is finding that one word that best describes you as an employee, your work ethic, or even your personality. This is a word that only you can own and gives value to your contribution to the company."
Aurora M. Suarez, 39
Former Publisher, Summit Media
In her 20s: Was a brand assistant for Jack 'n' Jill fun snacks. At 27, Aueeie launched Good Housekeeping and her teeenage favorite, Seventeen, in the Philippines.
Success... "can actually be easy. You hear about working hard and being persistent and that's all true, but sometimes, the odds are ever in your favor and you find the job you were meant to be doing."
What you need to get there: "Integrity and consistency. I was always someone people could rely on to deliver what I had committed."
Advice: "Say yes. You never know where each opportunity will lead you, who you will meet, and where the road will take you next. Say yes even when you don't really want to go. Say yes to stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new."
Ana P. Santos, 39
Journalist, Women's Issues Activist, Editorial Director, www.sexandsensibilities.com
In her 20s: "I sold just about anything—cookies, jewelry, whatever—to augment my paltry salary as account manager in an ad agency."
Success..."will scare off timid, insecure men who know they can't hold their own with you and know you are so out of their league. Success has its own natural selection process."
What you need to get there: "Be open to learning new things. You can't use the excuse, 'I'm too old to learn or relearn anything' nowadays."
Advice: "Let the detractors, disbelievers, and cynics be your motivation to get up every day. When you're where you want to be, you'll look back at them and say, 'Thank you. I couldn’t have done this without you.'"
Amor Maclang, 38
CEO, Geiser Maclang PR
In her 20s: Dabbled in various jobs, from doing research at the Senate to working at an ad agency.
Success is... "not solely based on talent. That can only get you so far. Attitude and persistence are everything."
What you need to get there: "Feel so hungry [you] have something to prove to [your]self."
Advice: "Work with integrity. Be reliable, keep your word, even down to just being on time. Eighty percent of success is just being there and being on time."
Trixie Cruz, 48
Military lawyer, law firm partner
In her 20s… "I had my first baby at 20, went back to college immediately afterwards, married at 25, and became a full-time housewife." In her late 20s, she entered law school.
Success means... "one must be flexible. While the formula of hard work and dedication holds true, work must also be fun, and your dedication must be defined."
What you need to get there: Keep a balance of interests. "The only way to do this is to hang out with different people, read a lot, especially on matters that are not or only remotely related to work."
Advice: "Do what interests you. Success becomes a natural result of that."
Nina Aguas, 61
Former CEO, PBCOM
In her 20s: She was working as an auditor when she quit her job to be with her husband in the US. "With a young and growing family I had to do the giving up as my husband was on the fast track with his company." When they returned after a couple of years, she went right back to work. She would then go on to become the first female in Asia to hold a country manager position for an international bank.
Success… "does not have to come at the price of family. If you want something hard enough, you can do it."
What you need to get there: "We are taught to be respectful and agreeable, but we should actually speak up."
Advice: "I was poor but determined. I came from a humble family in Tarlac—it seemed like a tough climb but I savored every bit of it. This is the mindset to have to be able to truly run the world."
Jeannie Pilapil, 50
CEO, Transitions Executive
In her 20s: "I flitted from one job to another—from working in hotels as account executive to, at age 27, becoming the VP for distribution for a pharma company."
Success... "always comes at an expense. The misconception is, while working our way to the top, we tend to lose our femininity, become intimidating, and domineering. I can attest that being at the top does not lessen my feminine instincts: in fact, it even hones it."
What you need to get there: "Choose a realistic goal. Self-discipline and perseverance are equally important qualities to ensure success."
Advice: "Nurture your early experiences and appreciate the people you meet and work with. They could be your future assets."
Pia Campos, 33
General Manager, W Talent Management
In her 20s: After three years of admin work at an ad agency, Pia put up her own events and marketing company. Faced with the difficulty of landing clients, she diverted her efforts into a modeling agency for kids.
Success is... "about finding purpose and fulfillment in what you do and being able to do it right."
What you need to get there: Build good relationships. "Yes, you will not get along with everyone, but you must keep a certain amount of respect, trust, and even love for most of the people you work with."
Advice: "Know your priorities and focus first on what's most important for you."
This story originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, March 2014.
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors