Fix it
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2018 - 12:00am

It was interesting listening to President Duterte’s and Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador  Panelo’s back-and-forth  aired on television channels – last Tuesday and almost in the same breath, to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who, responding to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour’s question about criticisms of the IMF, said, “If the bath tub leaks, you don’t destroy the whole bathroom.”

Interesting, because Sen. Ralph Recto came out with a similar statement: “There is no need for a regime change, only a refocusing of government priorities.”

“Let us let  the President finish a term he won fair and square. There is no need for a regime change, only a refocusing of government priorities. It must re-pivot to the gut issues of jobs, prices, income.”

The senator touched on what I wrote last Tuesday about presidents not only of the Philippines but also of other countries, ranting against criticisms from the media.

Recto said, “Criticisms are par for the course. The mandate to serve comes with constant exposure to criticisms. The best way to handle them is to treat them as advice on how to govern better and not to dismiss them outright as destabilization moves.

“Extremism in defense of one’s position does not encourage productive civil discourse. When the message is blurred by a tit-for-tat of coarse language, the free exchange of ideas hampers democratic dialogue needed to forge public policy.”

Duterte’s speech, he said, should   be similar to Waze, “that will guide us out of the many problems that we confront today. We need to have a map that will guide us forward, that will show us the fastest way and the shortest route to our objectives, one that avoids costly detours and unneeded distractions. We need him to provide a national direction we can all agree with. He steers, and there will be no lack  of rowers, if the course is clear to all of us.”

The president’s speech, he said, “should be premised on the admission that problems do exist, especially in the economy. We can only arrive at a catalogue of solutions if we first list the inventory of problems.”

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FROM ANOTHER FRONT. For many Filipinos, obtaining an MBA from a business school can open windows to better opportunities that could lead to successful careers and financial stability.  Sadly, there are numerous reasons why many can’t get enrolled in this type of school. Among them are the difficulties in meeting the school’s stringent qualifications, budget constraints, and the tight schedule of those who are already holding jobs.

Today, however, there’s a business school that admits students who work in other fields, especially those in the technical trade profession. It’s called the Integra Business School, which was founded in 2016. Located in Ortigas Center, Integra is open to technical trade professionals who want to learn more about entrepreneurship.

Unlike Bachelor of Science degree holders, technical trade professionals aren’t qualified to enroll in business schools. Integra caters to a demand for a more practical, efficient, and affordable approach in teaching business to individuals. It also utilizes a solution that bridges the gap between mentor and student, by providing flexible schedules in various sites in an affordable class package.

One of  Integra’s founders is a chef, Rob Pengson. He says many chefs like him finished their education in technical certificate culinary schools and thus aren’t Bachelor of Science degree holders. A lot of these chefs dream of establishing their own restaurants or food business, he says. 

“Culinary arts schools train you to be a technician, not a manager, not an entrepreneur, and definitely not a restaurant owner. Being a technician is a great advantage but one needs to pair it with business management and entrepreneurial knowledge,” he says.

Operating a restaurant entails proficient managerial skills and strong business acumen. One needs the business expertise to ensure the success of the establishment. This expertise can be learned from business schools. If one can’t get accepted in a business school, he now has the  option to enroll at Integra. 

“The Integra Business School is the business school for everyone,” says Pengson. “It’s especially for those who aren’t qualified to learn the principles of top managers and executives. It’s for technicians and creative people. I believe that these people are just like me in that we think differently. We need a better way to learn about business. I also believe that all of us are engaged in our business so it’s a universal skill to have,” he said.

“Integra focuses on speaking the language of today, imparting practical knowledge that is immediately actionable using only up to date principles. The core values of Passion, Professionalism, and Proficiency are at the center of its day to day activities.”

Integra started offering its certificate program in Entrepreneurship, Digital Marketing and Leadership last year. Dubbed “MBE,” or Master Class for Business and Entrepreneurship, the program includes lectures from mentors who happen to be active in their respective industries. The mentors include a restaurateur, a YouTube Vlogger, a tech start-up founder, an EVP of a Fortune 500 company, an SEO professional, and a president of a service industry company. They impart their thoughts and ideas on what it takes to be an entrepreneur, what were their challenges, and eventual successes. 

So far, Integra has accepted over a hundred students. Most of them belong to the 28- to 38-year-old age bracket and are a mix of entrepreneurs and managers of private corporations. During the last day of one of the programs, the students presented their own business ideas in “pitches” to an audience of investors, businessmen, coaches, and mentors. One student, Clara Herrera – a former flight attendant – managed to raise a sizable amount of pledges to build her resort spa in Palawan.

“Clara was so good that we now have her as a guest lecturer,” says Pengson. “We’ve noticed that our students get the funding they seek after attending Integra. They learn new skills and the language of business so they get to be taken seriously by investors. Their concepts become better, they make better financial forecasts, and implement leaner management principles.”

Integra also offers courses on Digital Marketing Fundamentals, LEAN Management, Strategic Management, and Entrepreneurial Finance, giving birth to an alternative program to the MBA, the Diploma in MBE (Management, Business Administration and Entrepreneurship). It has also started mentoring sessions with former students who seek more assistance in starting their ventures and gave customized training programs to corporations and existing businesses.

 Integra is launching its online learning platform next year, thus allowing even  more students the opportunities to enroll. Integra will thus be offering the MBE experience in live classroom and digital forms. 

Pengson is also set to open his own culinary school called Aleanza. But still, he considers himself first and foremost a chef and he continues to be busy in the culinary industry. Among his many plans, he intends to establish a restaurant that will focus on a healthy food concept, a Japanese restaurant brand, and a fine dining restaurant and bar.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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