Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So I've been scavenging my room in preparation for some heavy packing ahead and I came across my old CD collection of files from my undergraduate days. I curiously checked the contents and found my old thesis, term papers, book reviews, etc. But my best find from the loot is a compilation of some of my write-ups in my days as writer and editor of The LaSallian, the official publication of De La Salle University.

I had great fun re-reading my pieces and feeling nostalgic about the good old days. So I thought I'd publish some of my previous write-ups in my blog. It would be interesting to see how much I've changed as a writer and as a person. I've always been a strong advocate for progress. So, here's to hoping I've progressed as an individual through my thoughts, introspections, world views and other mundane and not so mundane take on things.

I will be marking all my historical write-ups as [archives].

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer's Last Hurrah

I'm not fond of swimming. Maybe because I don't know how to swim or perhaps because I nearly drowned twice when I was a kid. But I do love the sun, the sand and the beach. The combination, coupled with good company simply makes summer contagiously fun!
So I went to the beach with friends last week. Boracay (fondly called 'Bora') is a famous beach in the Philippines hailed for its pristine waters, powdery white sands and abundant night life to boot. And boy, did I have a lot of fun! The heat on my skin, warm sand on my feet and laughter all around reminded me of my carefree childhood. Living within a mile of the beach guaranteed me at least five summer beach outings every year. But the older I got, the fewer my beach getaways became. Seems like age always finds creative ways of pulling us farther from life's simple thrills. And so, this rare beach moment and the fact that this is my last summer home before I leave for my MBA in the US made the experience all the more priceless.

Looked like Fall...

Felt like paradise...

Especially with the fantastic view...

Picturesque times of day...

Unique enterntainment...

Good food...

And great company...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Business trip

Tomorrow, I'm flying to Vietnam for a business trip--probably my last overseas business trip before I leave the company in about a month's time. Sad thought actually.

I'm not a fan of the long, uncomfortable plane rides, lonely nights at hotels, fully-packed meeting days, and coming home to a desk of high-piled paperwork to sign and a full inbox. But what I will miss is the diverse minds, personalities and culture that come together in multi-country meetings. It's amazing how most of us come from the same continent, work for the same company, abide the same principles and yet offer each other totally different perspectives of a common theme. That's one of the perks of a multi-country, cross-culture organization. Someone somewhere has had the same challenge you're facing now. Very rarely will you feel alone in your dilemmas or market battles. If you're lucky, your solution might even just be as easy as 'copy-paste.' Plus the language translation, of course. In my company's words, that's 'sharing best practices.'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Darden and AIM partnership

I was perusing the Darden website and blogs and came across some very interesting news. Good news actually. The Darden School of Business has just signed a partnership with one of the top Asian MBA schools and incidentally is located in my country--the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

I'm happy to hear that Darden is establishing strong relations with Asian schools and expanding their reach and connection to the Asian market and its upcoming leaders in business.

Darden Announces Partnership with the Asian Institute of Management
April 28, 2010

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announces the signing of a partnership with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), located in Manila, Philippines.
Mr. Edilberto C. de Jesus, president of AIM, traveled to Darden for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two schools.
“AIM is well known to us as a leader in graduate management in Asia,” said Darden’s Dean Bob Bruner, “and we are kindred spirits in the way we create classroom experiences.”
Like Darden, AIM uses the case method as a primary mode of learning in its programs. AIM was founded in Makati City in 1968 with a grant from the Ford Foundation; its case method curriculum was developed with an advisory group from Harvard University.
“AIM and Darden share roots,” said de Jesus, “and we look to learn from the experience of Darden as the field of graduate management education evolves.”
The two schools will engage in joint faculty research, joint case writing, exchange programs for graduate students, collaborative executive education programs and scholars from both schools will be invited to participate in conferences and lectures.
“From AIM, we at Darden seek to deepen our perspective on the Philippines and East Asia,” said Bruner. “The Philippines have enjoyed remarkable growth, which stretches the creativity of business leaders, and more mature economies like the United States can learn from this.”
Founded in 1954, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

10 years A-counting

I had dinner with an old friend last night. We caught up with each other's lives over salad and crabs. I updated her with my MBA plans and mentioned that I decided not to enroll in an Accounting pre-MBA course available for incoming students at Darden. As one of my closest friends during our BS Accountancy undergrad years, she said "You shouldn't! You've been doing Accounting for 10 years!" Instinctively and defensively, I started to say, "Of course not!" and then I realized that I spent almost five years in college studying Accounting plus another five years in corporate finance doing Management Accounting. So yes, my love/hate affair with Accounting has been going on for 10 years.

I never thought I'd end up in my career now. I wasn't the most enthusiastic Accounting student during college. In fact, I hated doing debit/credit journal entries and much more memorizing Auditing principles. The one subject that I liked was Management Accounting--a more niche market in the world of Accounting. Lucky for me, I ended up in what to me is the lesser (Accounting) evil.

I still clearly remember how I landed my job now. When I was first offered a spot in the Management Trainee program in my company HR asked me what function I wanted to pursue and I automatically said "Marketing." Ah, the enticing and sexy world of Marketing. Who wouldn't be lured in its glamour? Some Sales managers tried to sell me the perks of the sales job--the free car, gas allowance, meal allowance, incidentals allowance, etc. But I figured I wasn't patient enough to be in Sales. A Finance manager tried to convince me to choose Finance. The promise of a free calculator and Excel training weren't enough to sway me. So Marketing it was. I spent a good nine months as Assistant Brand Manager. Yes, it was fun, exciting and sexy. But the type A in me was looking for the method amidst the chaos. I yearned for something more concrete than "instinct" and "gut feel."

I moved on to my Finance (Management Accounting) stint and that's where the ball hit home. Corny and disappointing as it felt to me then, I was home. The best part was I felt that I got the best of both worlds as a finance business partner for Marketing. I satiated my need for order and method by doing Management Accounting work. But at the same time, I pursued my inclination for Marketing by being the business partner for Marketers. Essentially, I was the translator of Marketing's plans into viable business cases. For me to be an effective business partner, I had to speak Marketing and Sales language. So I was still actively participating in idea and insights generation but at the same time reminding my team of the financial implications of our decisions. So yes, it was the best of both worlds.

What made me stay and love my job? It wasn't the perks or the power and authority a finance manager holds. It's not an obsession with numbers. But the story behind the numbers. When people look at the small black and white Excel columns filled with seemingly senseless numbers, they probably see the number glare--the low or high sales growth, the so-so profitability, the high overheads, blah, blah. No argument there, b.o.r.i.n.g. What I do see is the story behind those seemingly senseless numbers. A growth figure is not conclusively high or low. It's the perspective and context of it. It might look low but you have to ask, "What happened in the past year?" "Was there a big sales upsurge not present this year hence an incomparable sales offtake?" If sales growth is so high, it doesn't automatically mean that the company is doing just great. "What is the market growth?" "Is the company growing alongside the market and competitors?" You get the message.

So to me, numbers are not just numbers. They have (believe it or not), very interesting stories behind them. I even came across an abnormally high sales month and no one knew the reason why. All other factors were normal except the unusually cold weather. So, my financial commentary read, "High sales is attributed to cold weather." Shoot me.

You know how painters feel when they see a blank canvass or what architects see when they see a barren piece of land? Painters see their masterpieces while architects see skyscrapers. I, on the other hand, look at plain old boring numbers and investigate the stories behind them. Sometimes I feel like a storyteller or a writer. It does make the work more interesting.

So that's me after 10 years of Accounting. Will there be 10 years more to add to this? Or five? Or none? I don't know. Let's see how the numbers add up. For now, it's 10 years and (a) counting...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why blog?

The last time I opened Microsoft Word to write an article was probably two years ago. Hmm… Let me add a qualifier to that: This does not include the monthly financial commentaries I write on the company’s topline and bottomline results. But come to think of it, those monthly writing exercises actually helped delay the formation of cobwebs in my right brain. Right. Those just appeased the regional and global controllers that we were spending their money right.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I’m happy to be typing away trying to engage any readers out there.

So, how do I plan to engage you or what do I plan to blog about?

Short answer: my MBA adventure at the Darden (University of Virginia) School of Business

Long (checklist) answer:
-my (expected difficult) transition from a five-year stint in the corporate world to the world of MBA
-the ins and outs of the Darden MBA
-the changes I will go through and embrace
-the homesickness I know I will feel (big lump in throat)
-the diverse people I will meet and become friends with
-the cultures I will learn about and experience
-the travels I plan to take
-my musings and reflections on school, career, and life in general
-the lessons I will learn and mistakes I will learn from
-any other escapades as a Pinay MBA student in the US
-and any other relatively mundane adventures

Why am I writing?

Short (beauty pageant-like) answer: Because they say that this will be the best two years in my life

Long (-er) answer: Because they say that this will be the best two years in my life and I’ll be damned if I won’t have lucid memories of it by the time I’m sixty.

Hello (Blog) World!

1. noun – (a contraction of the term “web log”) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, description of events, or other materials such as graphics or video.
2. verb – to maintain or add content to a blog

*source: Wikipedia

So essentially, a blog is a modern-day diary with one difference—it’s for the whole world to see.

For those who know me, my sudden interest in blogging will come as a surprise. Not that I don’t like writing. Once upon a time, I spent the longer part of my days in a cramped and crowded room, full of editors, photographers, layout/graphics artists and student journalists-turned-layout-models. I poured hours and days into writing, editing and laying out the school paper. Sleep was a rare commodity and barely beating the deadline was the norm. But I loved every minute of it. It made my B.S. Accountancy undergraduate experience almost bearable.

So no, writing is not my issue about blogging, it’s the intimacy and openness of it. It’s like giving anyone who has access to the worldwide web a license to pick your brain and take a peek at your mind’s content. I pondered on it and realized, why not? If there’s something in there that could actually benefit another human being or even lend someone else an “aha” moment, then peek away!

So here I am, the virgin blogger ready to share her next big adventure!