29 January 2017
Fighting the good fight: MEAmore and beyond
By Riz Supreme Balgos Comia
The MEA Central Board, A.Y. 2016-2017
The element of gold is usually given its worth as coins or jewelry: timeless and durable. Gold is always associated with achievements in competitions, longevity, and prosperity, as in gold medals, golden anniversaries, and golden ages. Thus it was fittingly used as the Ateneo Management Engineering Association’s (MEA’s) 2016 tagline for the School of Management Week (SOM Week): #MEAdeOfGold, as the organization approaches its 50th year anniversary.
As the Management Engineering (ME) students realized collaboration was necessary to their success, MEA was built and officially accredited in 1968. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the strongest home organizations in the Ateneo.
Known and awarded as one of the top organizations with excellent project management skills: MEA’s core competency is strategic decision management, an analysis method that utilizes a multi-disciplinary framework to arrive at effective, holistic, and sustainable solutions. “There’s always this need,” says MEA President Aaron Jevon Dy, “especially now, as millennials and students who are more aware of the world, … to do something more for others.”
Their core advocacy of corporate sustainability means they believe that the future of business is moving towards success not only in terms of profit, but in sustainable practices and inclusive growth among all sectors of society.
MEA has strategically lined up its projects in the quest to promote this advocacy both in and out of the org. It begins with the introduction of corporate sustainability to their members, followed by MEA Sustainability Initiative (MSI) with activation, talks, and open visits to their partner community in Payatas.
“A lot of people don’t side with sustainability because they don’t see the point of it, especially as students. I want to bring the experience to them, to let them see it: why they should value people and the planet,” expounds Jevon. By teaching the value of society, MEA helps bring about a lasting mindset of sustainability.
MEAns celeberate SOM Week 2016.
“Once they have that mindset and that interest running, we want them to have that application to sustainability,” Jevon continues. To practice what the members learn, MEA has three more sustainability projects: Creating Sustainable Impact (CSI), which advocates the need to create shared value in business practices through workshops, field trips, and case competitions; Ateneo Corporate Sustainability Conference (ACSC) , which is a one-day event for high school students that seeks to raise awareness and understanding of corporate sustainability, as well as passion to use it for change; and the MEA Consulting Group (MCG), which takes on different engagements and gives sustainable recommendations to social enterprises and companies, making sure it’s a continuous learning journey for everyone. Recently, MEA has also partnered with the Ateneo Institute for Sustainability (AIS) to write business cases about the sustainability initiatives, efforts, and practices of companies and organizations around the Philippines and to impart these cases to current and future students of SOM.
MEA also has sustainability and leadership training for its central board, including the MEA Sustainability Framework. “We transform the way we do goal-setting in MEA: we don’t do the standard goal-and-success-indicator,” shares Jevon. He explains the fundamental aspects to this framework are the 3P’s: People, Planet, and Profit.
“People” pertains to the core members of the project, the target audience, and other stakeholders; “Planet” refers to the management of one’s resources in regard to the project; and “Profit” is the value that one wants his or her project to bring. Jevon hopes that aside from learning the value of sustainability, the administrative board members would also use the data they’ve gathered to use it as a benchmark in the future years—to keep on improving, being more sustainable.
Lastly, for the core members, there are trainings, talks, and workshops, wherein they learn about sustainability and project work. “We try to hit it at all levels, to make sure that the leadership is aligned with sustainability,” he says. There are now alumni MEAns actively practicing sustainability in their workplace, which Jevon says breaks the MEAn stereotype.
In addition to these projects, Jevon realized that sustainability isn’t just something they should show, but also apply: that’s what he wanted to start with his board through a more transparent feedback culture. According to Jevon, feedback-giving is very simple and is present in most orgs. However, it is difficult to execute in a home org, because one would have to evaluate classmates and friends. As a member of the central board since his first year, he realized that their usual feedback systems are only delivered twice a year.
“That entire year, you’d have no idea how you’re doing,” he explains. This year, he has regular individual consultations with each and every one of his central board members, to check up on them and to give them feedback—the points to be applauded and the points to be improved. Other members of MEA, such as the administrative board, the core teams, and so on, are also given feedback forms to evaluate performances. Jevon reasons that a lack of awareness hinders growth.
Jevon also shares that he never expected to be active in any org because he used to be an introverted “acads-chill type” high schooler. But after his preparatory course, where he met then MEA president Nico Reyes who welcomed him to the family, he found a home in MEA. “Even though I’m not very familiar with the administrative work and the system,” shares Jevon, “I hope that the same way Nico approached me and helped me, I’ll be able to give back to the org, approach each member, allow them to see their potential, and help them grow holistically as people.”
Asked why he decided to run for president, Jevon‘s humility was prominent. “I wasn’t really the expert in everything,” he admits, “but I just really love the MEAns. I really want to give back to MEA.” And because he won, Jevon shares his vision for MEA: “I want MEA to be seen as a home organization for business leaders,” says Jevon.
“I hope people can see that we are something more: that we stand for corporate sustainability, that we’re good at strategic decision management, and that we care about people and the planet.”
Each and every work, project, and effort in the organization is guided by the MEAmore spirit. MEAmore, their battle cry, is not only defined as the hunger for excellence, drive for continuous improvement and a strong bond that unites MEAns to achieve more together. It is also a personalized interpretation of its homonym, mi amor: which, translated from Spanish, means “my love”.
Winners are rewarded with gold medals and trophies: MEA is not only the champion of SOM Week 2016, but is also a champion of the people, the planet, and of course, the profit for all.
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Riz Supreme Balgos Comia
liwanag sa dilim kahit siya’y maitim, ay maaring abutin at sundin sa ibong bughaw.