Gretchen Ho: Spiking Her Way To Success
Gretchen Ho is one of the most recognizable faces in Philippine sports today. She first made waves as part of the “Fab Five” batch of standout volleyball players in the Ateneo Lady Eagles, and she was team captain from 2012 to 2013. The team won the hearts of Filipinos everywhere with their intensity and passion, and Ho became one of the most sought-after college athletes until her graduation with a degree in Management Engineering (ME) in 2013.
Given her career path, it’s safe to say that sports have been a driving force in Ho’s life. “Getting into a sport can be really life-changing. It molds your attitude, your character, your confidence, your habits and even the way you look at life,” she tells iMoney in an exclusive interview. This drive and determination have gone beyond sports and carried on into her current career as a TV host and entrepreneur.
But getting to this point wasn’t easy. Ho has had to deal with the challenge of balancing academics with UAAP-level sports, a shoulder injury that caused her a lot of frustrations in her game, and making the decision to forgo the corporate career path and doing something out of her comfort zone instead.
Starting entrepreneurship at such a young age shows great aptitude towards money management from your side. What influenced that?
Largely due to the way I was raised as a child. I come from a Chinese family and my parents have always been very thrifty and business-minded. They’ve taught me how to live simply and be happy with what I have. By giving me school allowance that was just enough, I learned how to spend wisely. They’ve also taught me never to count whenever I’m giving to other people.
Sounds like you grew up knowing the importance of money. Do you always set a monetary goal to everything that you do?
Money is important to allow you to live well but being moral about it will let you sleep well. My parents never spoiled my siblings and me with material things but they did commend us whenever we did something good in school. Because we wanted their approval, we worked even harder to become achievers in our own way.
That’s a great lesson to instill in children. Does it also mould your work ethic today?
I believe my work ethic is largely from balancing volleyball with my academics. I became more focused and productive with my time when I joined the volleyball team. I became more proactive with what I needed to do.
Have you always wanted a career in volleyball or sports?
I never imagined that volleyball would become a career for me. It was just something I really loved doing and something that kept me excited for school. I guess I am just so lucky that the sport boomed during my time in Ateneo. I am happy that a lot of athletes have found better lives because of the sport.
Yes, it’s good that they recognized for their talent. Balancing UAAP volleyball and studies is no easy feat. How did you do it?
It was really challenging balancing my college studies and UAAP Volleyball. My proudest achievement to date is still being able to graduate from ME and play quality volleyball at the same time. I’ve had sleepless nights juggling between training and preparing for exams and papers. It was tremendous pressure but I guess I found my motivation in the fact that I couldn’t see myself in any other course. I was determined right from the very start that I would close the college chapter of my life with an ME diploma in my hand.
With all that was going on in your life, you also had to deal with a shoulder injury. Were you concerned about how that would impact your life as an athlete?
I only knew the full effect of my shoulder injury after I graduated from college. It was only then that I found out that my supraspinatus (an upper back muscle) was partially torn. When I found out, a lot of my frustrations in the game were explained.
I couldn’t spike towards certain directions and angles because of it and that was also the reason why my attacks weren’t as powerful as before. After my MRI, I decided to go through a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedure, which stopped me from playing for almost six months. My shoulder got re-injured, hence it was extended to that long.
That’s a bummer. I hope you’ve made full recovery now.
Right now I can still feel it hurting from time to time. It’s already chronic but I’m happy that my injury isn’t as serious as an ACL tear. I know that I’m still in the process of full recovery but I have to get over that hump after an injury and just continue on the strengthening phase. I’ll get stronger!
After graduation, how did you transition from college to working life?
It was not an easy transition because my job right now as a television host was not a path I initially intended for myself. I wanted to join the corporate world but then the opportunities in front of me were too difficult to resist.
Were there a lot of offers, and what made you choose TV hosting as a career?
My parents told me to try hosting first and give the industry a try since I can go corporate anytime. I had to learn how to dress up, put makeup on and adjust to the pressure of being on television; things that I never cared about when I was in college.
There were a lot of offers for me and I just chose according to my gut feeling. I’m happy where I am right now because I’m learning and growing every step of the way.
Other than TV hosting, you’ve also started your own business. Tell us more about it.
My business is called The Inspired Project. We sell inspirational merchandise (t-shirts, lanyards, posters, pins, cellphone cases, keychains, notebooks, etc). Follow us on Instagram @theinspiredproject, Twitter @inspiredprojph and Facebook at The Inspired Project to get your daily dose of inspiration. Also please check our online store at theinspiredproject.net!
We are also available at Market Market but we are transferring soon to Trinoma. Hopefully by this summer!
Now that you are earning a steady stream of income, how do you manage your money? Do you use professional financial advisers?
I have a stock broker and some people who give me advice on what I can invest in but I’ve never really hired a financial adviser. I feel like I might need one in the future.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about money or business?
Business is not easy, you’ve got to put in the time and focus if you want it to grow according to your expectations or goals.
What’s the best financial decision you’ve made so far?
The best financial decision I’ve made and I’m still making every day is to save about 70 – 80% of my income. I haven’t really spent on anything huge but I have already invested on a business and life insurance. Currently, I am eyeing out other potential investments. My goal is to save, and then invest!
What are your plans in the next few years?
Well, financially, I have a target amount that I want to achieve every year. Professionally, I want to be able to have a stable and growing job. In media, nothing is really for sure so I want to be really good at what I’m doing in order to make a name for myself not just as an athlete, but also a host. By focusing on self-improvement, consistency, networking and professionalism, I believe that I can make my income grow even more.
You can catch Gretchen Ho on the following TV shows: Gameday Weekend on Balls Channel (7pm Saturdays) and ABSCBN Sports+Action (11pm Saturdays), and ChinoyTV on PTV4 (10am Sundays). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and her official page at gretchenho.com.