I am here to tell you my story. I was a simple kid who grew up in Antipolo. I was raised and inspired by a single mom, who danced her way to success and gave us the gift of quality education. Our home was far from the business districts such as Ortigas and Makati. No one in my immediate family and in the community had ever experienced working in big corporations. Life there was simple, people were not wealthy, but growing up in that community created a gold mine of memories.
In 2012, I received my degree in computer engineering from De La Salle University (DLSU) and started working for the IT arm of a multinational bank. Armed with my passion to work with technology, I believed that I made it there independently, seeking ways to survive and excel on my own.
In my first years at work, I was competitive and aggressive, eager to climb the ranks as fast as I could. I wanted a seat at the table. But I couldn’t have one. I was failing to meet expectations. I was good at IT, but not at business processes. As a result, I couldn’t recommend improvements. My lack of business acumen hindered my growth, and I realized this was a limitation that I couldn’t afford to have. So, I decided to step up my game and enrolled myself in the MBA program.
My alma mater didn’t disappoint. It appeased my hunger for knowledge and trained and prepared me for the future. I joined academic and sports competitions, which made me experience failures, victories, and the struggles in between. I couldn’t be more grateful to my professors and mentors who dedicated their time and effort just so we could enjoy the fruits of our hard work today.
A highlight of my MBA journey was my Insider Action Research. As Dr. Teehankee put it in his recent article, “MBAs can make a positive difference”: “Insider action research project, as it is called, requires the student to collaborate with people within the organization to confront a real and important organizational problem.”
My action research focused on solving a problem in one of the departments under my umbrella — Return Merchandise Authorization or RMA. More than providing unanimously accepted solutions to help the business grow, my action research empowered my subordinates as I trained them in areas that they were not experts in.
RMA stores and manages defective items in its warehouse. Considering that it deals with potential losses in its regular operations, it never really had the same spotlight unlike other income-generating departments in terms of value-added for the organization. So, it was a challenge for it to be recognized for what it does for the business. So, when I had the opportunity to work on my action research, I specifically focused with RMA. We gathered business requirements of our internal customers and we came up with reports that would help them make sound business decisions.
But there were challenges as we moved forward in the action research. For instance, one of my staff hated Excel, but she needed it to create her reports. Considering that I know Excel like the back of my hand, I shared with her the importance of acquiring the knowledge on how to use it before we dealt with the technical lessons. This way, she could see for herself how it could help her give inputs for the business that can help RMA be stripped of its usual association with losses alone and to be seen now as a competitive advantage.
My action research focused on the value of empowering others. When you help others to stand on their own and influence them to share what they have learned, you create a society whose members habitually help each other to make a difference.
I could not have experienced and realized all that I have shared without my mom. My mom inspired me to take up higher education while working. She finished her undergraduate and master’s degree while taking care of two boys and preparing for dance competitions at the same time. She made us realize that we can still give something to the less privileged even if we think we only have enough for ourselves. Thank you, mom. And I’m sure my batch mates here feel the same way about their parents and other family members who supported them financially, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. So, let’s take a moment to honor them.
As Lasallian business leaders, we are being challenged to be experts not so we can have a seat at the table. Rather, we are being challenged to know how we can translate our expertise into helping and serving our communities and, by extension, our nation.
So, yes, let us display our diplomas on our walls, but let us show the world that we are more than pieces of paper.
Masanori A. Takamoto gave the response in behalf of the graduating students during the RVRCOB Graduate Studies Recognition Rites. He will be graduating on June 29 and has started teaching part-time at DLSU.