AITS: How did you come to your current position as an Executive Director?
Joie: I’ve been with the PSIA for nearly 5 years now. I started handling Capability Development Initiatives for scholarship programs that are still being funded by TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in the Philippines). These included 5 different Programming Languages Courses. I also handled PSIA Enablement Seminar Series at that time.
After 2 years, I was laterally promoted to Marketing, handled newsletters as well, and annual trade missions to Australia and Japan with the goal of marketing the PSIA abroad.
This would be my 3rd year as an ED.
AITS: How are the challenges different now than when you started in this business?
Joie: Now as an Executive Director, I am more of a “generalist”, meaning I need to know every detail about what we do. With the PSIA, (which has been around since 1988) I need to be familiar with internal matters regarding this 170-member association. It includes financials, the collections that fuel the activities of the PSIA. As an ED, my need-to-know does not only encompass the twin goals of Capability Development and Marketing before, but also segments like Industry Information or Industry Data, International and domestic marketing as well. It goes with a kind of evangelism – evangelizing young students from high school to college to take IT courses seriously due to the availability of IT jobs in the Philippines alone.
And then of course, internally, I need to manage my staff members as well. Most of us here at PSIA did not even went through formal training in handling projects, so we learned the ropes along the way. For me, it’s certainly good exposure and experience. I don’t think we have any competition right now in the country, in terms of being a software association that is really focused on promoting the software sector in the Philippines. We are a very “lean” group. Although we do have several program managers handling several projects and a few number of associates. Currently, we have 5 full-time employees, we might just grow that number to 9, but that is still a small group, but the good thing about it is that it’s more manageable, and people are always talking/sharing, giving their input. There’s very little bureaucracy, very little politics as well. I think that’s very important in making sure that you execute activities and deliverables on time. That’s the advantage on a much larger organization, wherein you need approvals for every little matter/detail.
As an ED, can you share some of your very own best practices for more people to know?
Joie: 1. I am into Openness and Transparency. Since it is a rather small group/team I have, I really want us to talk to each other. The personal touch rather than sending emails. I encourage my staff to approach me rather than waste time. You would know people’s sincerity this way.
2. The other things are Honesty and Integrity, for me, are non-negotiable. We are very output-based. So, as long as you’re doing your job, then it’s all good to me. If you think you’re not doing your job properly/efficiently, then you would be lying to yourself and that goes a long way.
3. Teamwork. In a small group, it is essential to think as a whole. I would rather everyone knows what everyone is doing so that individually you would be aware of what is needed and how each one can contribute.
Any success, whether it be a project or an event, would always be because of group effort. I try to promote accountability as well. The person accountable of a certain project is the project owner (or manager) and that person should know every little detail. Failure is also part of accountability as well.
What are the most successful projects of the PSIA so far?
Joie: Success is relative. But if we’re talking about the general concept of success, then I would consider the latest conference that we had, the SOFTCON (Philippine Software Industry Conference) held last October. It is the first of its kind here in the country, the biggest that we’ve organized for PSIA. We timed the launching with the celebration of our 25th anniversary. We gathered around 330 executives, founders, and other key people in various IT and software groups/companies.
We received much positive feedback that people wanted more than just that whole-day affair which coincided with our objectives.
Another event that had some success was last year’s 25th anniversary celebration for the PSIA. We were able to invite some of the association’s past presidents.
On a personal note, what do you think makes IT unique in the Philippines?
Joie: It’s more on the “Filipino touch” because it’s easy to find quality work from all over the world but it’s the added “Filipino touch” that makes us better when it comes to user-experience, with the general aesthetics of the technology that we handle and the communication and flexibility, especially working with global clients who are in different time zones. The output quality depends on always wanting to “extend that extra hand” or take that extra step for any project. That’s what makes it special.