Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

HR and the graduate

Manila Standard Today

March 25, 2013


On three occasions, I gave a talk to the AB Consular and Diplomatic Affairs graduating students at De La Salle College of St. Benilde. Some of them asked me how they can be employed by a multi-national corporation (MNC); others were wondering about what are expected of them in the corporate world. How I wish I had a crystal ball for accurate answers.  As I sensed the pressure – self-imposed, peer-driven, and family expectation – on these graduating students, I asked myself: At what price are they willing to pursue success in their respective careers?  Since I am no spiritista nor manghuhula, I told them that the future of work described by Carsten Serensen and Gillian Pillansas is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  But for some concrete examples, I used my own experience and that of my daughter in the corporate world.


I thought the expectations of the corporate world for a De La Salle-Benilde graduate was easy to answer. However, I realized that my corporate life ended a decade ago when I retired from Metrobank.  During that period, I experienced the beginnings of computerized banking operations and the introduction of ATM banking. In my time, the mandate of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to strengthen the banking system led to the merger of Solid Bank and Global Bank with Metrobank.  These developments kept me busy, doing an orientation for new employees (ONE program), professional enrichment program (PEP) and teambuilding program (TBP).  When they were about to be promoted, they underwent a basic supervisory program (BSP). Finally, a  management development program (MDP) was required to become a second-raking officer.


The new graduate needs an entry level education when joining the corporate world and later a continuing corporate learning. The generic nature of our Philippine college education does not automatically ‘fit nor match’ the student for a specific job.  Practicum, as a bridge between the academe and business world, is an excellent way to ‘break in’ the graduating student but it is not enough.  Already, some corporations have “in-house” universities.  For example, Metrobank has a CHED accredited college designed to attract students who will be future Metrobankers.   

One student asked: We have a degree in liberal arts major in consular affairs; it provides us plenty of theories, but our concern is how do we apply these at the workplace.  I answered with this scenario. How would you react to a situation where you are hired to work in Philippine consulate and in the absence of a secretary.your boss requests you to make coffee for him and his guest? Those who looked beyond the coffee situation saw it as a temporary assignment and considered it as “work” experience, listed by HR as a task under “others you may be required to do.”  Some viewed it as a breach of professionalism; they considered the task beyond the raison d’etre for being hired.


There were those who retreated from the challenges in the workplace.  One endorsed the idea of pursuing further studies.  So, I clarified.  For an MBA, I  informed than that experience of at least three years is a requirement of many universities.  If it is pursuing studies leading to a law degree, it is justified to continue study.  Another opted to be an entrepreneur by starting a business.  When I asked why a diplomatic course and not business, he answered that he was previously enrolled in business but he had a tussle with his professor.  So, he took another degree for family compliance.


On how to get into a top corporation, I related the experience of my daughter who, while in college at the Ateneo de Manila University, took every opportunity to exposed herself to the corporate life.  Her practicum was at Ayala Land’s marketing department. She joined the Ayala Young Leaders Program, the Accenture Leadership Program, and Unilever Business Week.  To enrich her undergraduate management course, she applied at the National University of Singapore and received a marketing scholarship.  In high school at the Assumption San Lorenzo, she went to Melbourne, Australia as an exchange student.  She joined the Cathay Pacific essay writing contest that won her a trip to a student conference in Lapalala,  South Africa.  She actively participated in student government and organizations. Bottom line is: Early on, the student must market himself / herself to the world.  By intent and design, one has to show polish her/his talent to be recognized.


Today, Julie is Director of Human Resources of Unilever for the United Kingdom and Ireland. She shares the following advice. “In your senior year, all you can do is find a way to tell your story the best you can.” 1. Write your CV so it shows not just names of orgs or titles you’ve held, include highlights of key achievements. 2. Learn to write an essay properly to get your story across in a few paragraphs. Most MNCs ask you open ended questions on the application form e.g. Give an example of a time when… What do you want to achieve in the next five years. and 3. Do practice interviews; get feedback, then try again and again refining your style. Do it with someone who’s had an interview with an MNC; some schools also offer this service.

“But you can’t invent the story in the final year. Creating that story starts from freshman year, even in high school.” 1. You want to build a strong CV by collecting experiences that demonstrate leadership, initiative, creativity, and skill. These can be in student orgs but also part time work, sports, church, family business, and local community. It’s not enough to hold titles, e.g. president of an org — be sure you can talk about what exactly you did that had great results. 2. You want to network and get exposure. Do practicum even if it’s not required by school, join student contests or workshops or conferences especially those run by MNCs, chat with people already working in MNCs, look for study abroad sponsorships etc. and 3. Ask professors and other adults in your target industry for feedback on your profile — Are you marketable for the jobs you dream of? Then do things to close gaps they identify and note the strengths they see — amplify these in your applications and interviews.


“Finally, students, and their families and the academic institutions that support them, need to realize that planning and preparation for entry into the corporate world needs to happen much earlier than the final year of university. Those that have an early start will have a competitive advantage over others and are more likely to have the opportunity to make their dreams come true.”

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