The Young MBA Graduates, the very first 16-month MBA class of the Asian Institute of Management, are officially now graduates.
After 16 months of going through hundreds and hundreds of cases, sleepless nights, CAN Group meetings, our respective Action Consultancy projects, and our Management Research Reports, we graduate from one of Asia's best business schools with the title "Master in Business Administration." Yes, we earned it and he graduation day ceremony was a fitting conclusion to our stay as students in AIM.
The commencement exercises were held yesterday at the SGV Auditorium at the AIM Conference Center - Manila. The members of our class arrived quite early so we ha the chance to get a lot of photo opps even before the event started. Everyone was in their stellar best, fashion-wise-- the ladies were stunning and the men were equally dashing (heck, I even wore the Filipino formal attire of Barong Tagalog for this occasion :P). A few minutes before the program started, everyone was asked to queue for the grand entrance.
The event started promptly at 10 o'clock in the morning. I felt a rush when the graduation march started playing. As we walked in one by one in to the auditorium (like a bride would do on her wedding day), the feeling was great. Cameras were flashing everywhere and you could feel the jubilation our class and the elation of our family & friends. The venue was very well-decorated and it matched the vibrancy of the occasion.
As everyone in our class were settled in, the program was kicked off by the emcee of the graduation ceremony, Prof. Jun Borromeo. Shortly after, we were presented by Prof. Victoria Licuanan, the Dean of the W. SyCip Graduate School of Business (WSGSB), to Mr. Francis Estrada, President of AIM. After Mr. Estrada formally accepted our candidacy for graduation, we shifted our sablays (or graduation sashes) from left to right, an act that symbolized out passage from student to graduate. It was then time for each one of us to up to the stage and get our diploma from Mr. Estrada and Prof. Ricky Lim, Associate Dean of the WSGSB.
Interesting anecdote: When I went up the stage and shook Mr. Estrada's hand, he told me, "Keep on blogging Regnard... congratulations!" (or something to that effect, the music didn't help me hear what he said). So, Mr. Estrada reads this blog huh? :P
After that, the Distinction Award for our class was given to Madhu Ponnuveetil, who was one of my CAN Group mates and I, incidentally, sat beside him during the event. He accepted the award with his wife and he gave a speech after. During his speech, I got a little bit confused because he called our class "The First of the Conquerors" (which was a reference to the last graduating class, that called themselves "The Last of the Mohicans," which was a reference to them being the last 2-year MBA class.) but Madhu concluded with calling us "Young MBA Graduates," a term we affectionately call ourselves.
Our guest speaker was then introduced by Dean Licuanan. Fernando Zobel de Ayala, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Ayala Corporation, shared some words of wisdom to our class. He said our class was coming out of AIM at a very inauspicious times-- a time where there are a lot of "value destruction" and financial turmoil. But he also shared that there are opportunities out there. My takeaway from the Mr. Zobel's talk is to have guarded optimism or hopeful pessimism in this time of the global financial crisis. (I wonder if that made sense...) The program concluded after Mr. Zobel's talk. More photo opps followed and congratulatory greetings from out professors, family and friends.
The graduation day was a great day indeed. Everyone in our class graduated, the program went smoothly, and family and friends were there to share the joy. Yes, we were victors in our graduation day-- Young MBA Graduates.