Future -Proofing the Centennial

    With the hastening on the adaptation of technology in the educational system in these times, the perennial question on the relevance of academic preparation to the workplace is once again brought to fore. In the recent PANAF online learning session, academicians and industry practitioners were invited to shed light on the real score.

    Ateneo Marketing and Communications director Matec Villanueva moderated the panelists. Linked-in lead for new business Philippe Desini provided a perspective, currently being the largest professional app. Pennie Bongato, a motivational and transformational speaker talked about the relationship between values and behavior. Frankie  Antolin who is from the BPO sector, mentioned the need for uptraining  the students to be able to cope with the BPO demands. Ricky Gonzales, a highly-respected advertising practitioner and professor discussed his fresh and evolving charter on coping with the new normal, shared several personal experiences among his students and even volunteered to initialize the more important values these students should have in these changing times.  It was an interesting exchange of ideas between diverse and progressive disciplines.

    The session was opened with everybody agreeing that the crisis provided students a fresh breather from the academic rigor, the opportunity to explore new avenues - things they didn’t expect to learn they learned, new ways of doing things, and how this crisis has fast forwarded them into the world’s concerns  on environment, governance and even spirituality albeit the influx.

    Confronting the concern that students may not obtain the necessary skills needed to succeed in their career paths in the absence of physical classes,   it was pointed out that values are more important than the technical and theoretical skills learned from textbooks. While concepts change, values don’t.  Given that the students will still be exposed to the same lessons, what will spell the difference are the values that they have imbibed. For Philippe  Desini , the 3 most important values are:

    1. Inspire excellence. It sounds like an action, but it is still a value- how not only to improve oneself but also how to drive others around to excellence is very important
    2. Good relationships with those you work with considering the different backgrounds build bridges that will make them rise to the top in an easier and more manageable fashion.
    3.  Being honest and open, where one needs to speak out especially in a competitive landscape. Students should practice to be more open to share their ideas.

    Ricky Gonzales, on the other hand, shared the evolving operative parts of the new normal which include discovering new ideas, acquiring new learnings every day and formulating new guidelines every day. Most important values for him are summarized as “KKK.”

    1. Kusa or initiative: The era of spoon-feeding is over. Students should be proactive, seeking information instead of waiting for it to be given. Technology has allowed free access to information; so there is no need to be told!
    2. Kulit or curousity: Learning new things, watching new movies reading  a book and/or gardening or other crafts. Participation is  assumed not because you are told but because there is a genuine desire to learn
    3. Kalikot or  resourcefulness; think about the “why” of things gives more purpose and a better motivation.

    Frankie Antolin volunteered that the core character of the people to grow the sector include

    1. Ability to communicate well, particularly in English since the marketplace is globalizing
    2. Empathy, having an orientation to be of service to people (a “service culture”)
    3. Reinforce our ability to learn new and uncomfortable things

    For Penny Bongato, values are important because they dictate our behavior . What we are, we believe! Values can change over one’s lifetime.  It is the desire for continuous learning and improving service that truly matter.

    The conversation soon moved on to address the issue of whether the current educational system prepares the kids for their careers and if there is a way to merge academe and industry to achieve better results.

    According to Philippe Desini, educational institutions are preparing students but the gap still exists. Students just have to step back and mull about how they can make themselves different from the other graduates. The more important concern is to provide an answer to the companies on what makes them unique so that the company will be willing to invest on them.

    Franklin Antolin did not provide a categorical answer. According to her, there is no straightforward formula. Jobs vary and as such uptraining is important. Foundational skills like communications can be handled in school. Soft skills need to be moved earlier during the primary years of development.

    Meanwhile, Ricky Gonzales recognizes the efforts of the academia but says it can still improve pointing out that only about 25% of what is learned in school can actually be applied to the workplace. Ideas and information evolve; but perseverance and commitment don’t die. He further stated that educational institutions have become lenient in inculcating values. It needs to toughen the students more.

    Asked on how intergenerational reciprocity is practiced in the workplace and how the younger generation manages this, Philippe Desini and Frankie Antolin share the same idea that  it is merely acceptance.   An open mind and empathy have to be practiced as currently there are 5 generations present in the workplace already- Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, millennial and  Baby Boomers. It is anticipated that in 5 years, 60% will be millennials. There is a need to work with different people of different working styles and perspectives. An agile management style to motivate these diverse groups should be adopted.  Openness to different cultures is part of the day job.

    In rounding off, Pennie Bongato mentioned that curriculum may quickly respond to the industry but engagement is important. The students need to know the rationale behind the changes. The academic environment offers training in the fundamentals needed to succeed but the industry also has to work hand in hand to give feedback on what is needed.

    Gonzales then went on to say that he loves to teach as the students provide him the current trends and allows him to speak the language of the young. To him flexibility, agility and openness to new ideas are important.  PANAF guest university professor Neal Tieng lauded PANAnaw, a brand communications competition among college students saying that activities like these are excellent opportunities to teach students grit, resilience and fun in learning. It nurtures creativity while making them resilient in times of adversity.

    Villanueva ended the conversation by highlighting that values seem to be the more important link between success, academic training and the ever vibrant industry.

    To listen to the conversation, follow PANA FB post. Click here to view the video