CAI's Accelerating IT Success interviews Ms. Rachel Joaquin, a forward-thinker and proud mother of two, who looks forward to the challenges and pressures she will be facing in her new role as Philippine Software Industry Association’s Executive Director. She replaces Ms. Josefina ‘Joie’ Villanueva, whom AITS has also interviewed in the past. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
AITS: How did you become the newest Executive Director (ED)?
Rachel Joaquin: I was looking for work in the nonprofit sector, and I feel just absolutely fortunate to land this one when I got interviewed for the job.
AITS: Before PSIA, what industry were you affiliated with?
Joaquin: I was with the Oil and Gas Sector – Maritime Oil and Gas, so it was a completely different industry. And when the [PSIA Board of Executives] interviewed me, and they asked why I was interested [in the ED position], it was because I made the decision that I wanted to concentrate mainly on doing nonprofit work.
AITS: Coming from a different industry, how do you differentiate the current challenges with those you’ve encountered back then? Are there similarities?
Joaquin: Technically, the problems are the same, right? We all have goals, we all have objectives… so it’s the same. I think, working here at the PSIA, it’s been a little bit harder because of the fact that it is a nonprofit. So, we have many programs we want to do, initiatives, but it’s a little more challenging because we don’t have the financial backing. That’s what we’re working on to change hopefully, by increasing awareness about the organization, so that we can get more funding for these initiatives, these startups and programs.
AITS: What are your plans moving forward to achieve these things?
Joaquin: I think increasing membership is one, definitely. For the brand of PSIA, we are concentrating on our conferences, and we have another one coming up this October. We want to increase awareness, and I think, once you do that, the memberships will follow. This is actually one of the main goals discussed to me by the board.
AITS: What do you think are the current IT trends in the Philippines?
Joaquin: The SOFTECH 2014 theme was the Internet of Things, covering three main topics: Agile, Tools and Architecture. For SOFTCON 2014 session will focus on starting, growing, managing and selling software businesses in the Philippines, with breakout sessions covering best practices in People, Project, and Process management in the Philippine software industry. We will also feature expert speakers on Women in Software, Mobile Apps, AGILE, and Lean Innovation.
AITS: What do you think are the best practices you can apply or practice now as an ED?
Joaquin: Back then, in the Oil and Gas industry, they were very much into safety, HSSE – Health, Safety, Security and the Environment. They’re very much into that because there is a certain amount of danger when working, obviously, in the oil and gas sector. Although we don’t have that kind of imminent danger with software, it is still important to follow the same procedures and steps to make sure that when we work, our processes are done properly. I think that’s what I’ve told the board as well. I have a lot of experience with process improvement, and I definitely think that can give some benefit to the organization so that it becomes ‘one lean machine’, in terms of how we function. Because the more fine-tuned our processes are, the more we can get our goals.
AITS: What do you feel you personally will contribute to the PSIA?
Joaquin: I have no experience in the software industry, but my skills, my process improvement, my managerial experience, my HR experience… I think all of these are things the organization needs. Whether you’re from one industry or the other, you need these skills. And technically, since we’re not coding or doing anything technical, it’s OK. (laughs)