Anna Gomez shakes her head when people ask how this mother of three, Chief Financial Officer and author fits everything in her day. “Prioritization,” she says. “You have to manage your expectations about what can and cannot get done in a certain amount of time.” Such humble words from someone who has accomplished so much in the past few years. Not only has Anna Gomez broken the glass ceiling as one of the few diverse women in an executive leadership role, the book she has just co-written with actor Kristoffer Polaha hit the Bestseller list right on Release Day.
As an immigrant from the Philippines who settled in Chicago over twenty years ago, Anna learned the value of humility and resilience as soon as she arrived in the United States. Despite being a graduate of Economics from one of the top universities in Asia and possessing prior experience of owning and running two restaurants immediately after graduating from college, no one was willing to hire a non-U.S. educated graduate during the 90s. She ended up taking a job as a copy girl for a legal firm in downtown Chicago. As part of her career plan, she began her quest by taking and passing the U.S. CPA exam while taking care of two little kids. Sixteen years after landing a job as an Associate Director in Finance at a global advertising agency, she has worked her way to become the Chief Financial Officer, in charge of several agencies within her portfolio.
In her leadership role, Anna champions women. Her most recent board memberships have been in leadership organizations for young women and girls, as well as a new not for profit focused on social and environmental issues. She is also the executive sponsor of various employee resource groups that advocate diversity and inclusion and ageism. In 2020, she was also named as one of Yahoo Finance’s Top 100 Women Executives and was a keynote speaker at the Illinois CPA Society’s Young Professionals Association.
Despite the meteoric rise of her career, losing her mother in 2010 spurred her to self-publish her first novel in 2013. Concerned about her professional identity, she wrote under the pen name Christine Brae. Since then, Anna has published six books—three of which have won literary awards: In this Life, Eight Goodbyes, and The Year I Left. One of them also optioned for ﬁlm. All of Anna’s books have been about women’s journeys, with characters from diﬀerent walks of life and diﬀerent cultures. Her books tell the world that love is universal and that no one is ever alone.
Having a full-time career as a woman executive is difficult enough. But coming from another country and succeeding is an added accomplishment. Being a best-selling author in addition to this is a feat that not many have experienced. Anna hopes her story inspires others to strive to be the best and to know that one can do anything, if you put your heart to it. Although “jealous of those who write full time and can market their work to their heart’s content,” she considers herself fortunate enough to have another career which removes her focus from the uncertainties that surround the publishing industry.
In late 2019, Anna decided that publishing her book, The Year I Left, was her final contribution to the book industry. She wanted to focus the next five years on her career at the Agency, which included building a brand as an advocate of diversity and inclusion. Her manager convinced her to write one more book—a clean, contemporary romance that could be pitched as a Hallmark TV movie. After giving it some thought, Anna decided to give it a try on one condition—that she write all future books under her real name going forward. This time, she was adamant about using her brand as a leader to bring women of different backgrounds and cultures to the forefront.
“I believe that my brand is my voice. If I want to be heard for something I passionately believe in, I’d better walk the talk. I often think—how do I want to represent myself? What do I want my children to say about me when I’m gone? It has taken a few years for me to build credibility as a person and as a writer. In the beginning, I wavered towards what was popular. But not anymore. Because popularity fades but integrity lives forever.”
Anna has garnered a following of women who, like her, have been inspired to bring their stories and full selves to the table.
During the COVID pandemic of 2020, Anna met and partnered with Kristoffer Polaha to write a series of five books. The first book in the From Kona with Love series entitled Moments Like This, released on March 9, 2021. The book has garnered much success as a bestseller, but most importantly, the feel good story has resonated with many people from around the world. Set in the island of Oahu in Hawaii, the story is centered around family, love, loss, and reconciliation.
Kristoffer Polaha is a Hollywood actor, known for his role in Wonder Woman 1984 as well as the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie. He is a staple on the Hallmark channel, having filmed many romance movies as well as the Mystery 101 franchise. Dubbed as “the hottest writing duo in Romance”, Anna and Kristoffer are well on the way to announcing the title of their second book, and conversations are taking place regarding their adaptations to the big screen.
“What people may not know,” Anna says of Polaha, “is that he is a gifted creative in every sense of the word. He transforms these incredible ideas into beautiful words that inspire me and make me proud to be his partner.”To learn more about Anna Gomez and her list of publications and future works, check out www.annagomezbook.com.