What is your job about?
I’m currently a Platform Product Manager at UnionBank. It's similar to being a product owner of different bank-related products. In the previous years, the role that I had was focused on products related to lending to MSMEs. With that, what I do on a day to day basis is not really fixed. It's more flexible and vague, but I think that vagueness also allows me to learn different tasks and skills – whether it be soft skills, hard skills, or a combination of both. What paved the way to my current role is my inclusion in UnionBank’s Management Training Program. It’s basically a training program preparing you for more senior roles down the road. What’s good about it is that it allows you to learn and explore the different units of the bank, getting different insights and perspectives from co-workers along the way.
What are the skills needed for this position?
Adaptability and flexibility - a combination of both hard and soft skills. You really need to be open to vagueness and flexibility as you’re not expected to do the same thing every single day.
Patience - talking to a lot of stakeholders, you have to have a certain amount of patience as their line of thinking would not always align with yours.
Good communication skills - you have to learn how to talk to varying types of people. One day you’re talking to operators, the next you’re talking to C-suite executives. You have to have a wide range of languages which you can use in different situations.
Being solutions-focused - being the product owner, you need to have the mentality of not letting issues pass as it might severely affect revenue or operations.
Good stress management - If you're a product owner, you need different strategies; you also work with a diverse group of teams, developers, and operators. You are their bridge to what the executives are demanding from them. It’s important that you are able to manage the stress before it gets to them.
What do you like about this role?
I think the best thing about my role is that I’m able to work with different kinds of people. I’m meeting a lot of external clients, I’m working with a lot of internal officers. It's like you can see through their own lenses. How they understand things from their own eyes. It’s a good opportunity for me to learn from them.
Additionally, it’s being able to solve problems. I think it’s also a bit about my personality – I’m just a natural problem solver. There’s something that my boss told me before that as long as I’m needed to address a certain problem, then I still have value to the company. I’m needed by the company.
What do you think is the best training for students to succeed in the role?
Two angles – one is on the extracurricular activities. Some of you might have the personality or confidence to really be social – joining student councils, different organizations, and being actively involved in a lot of social activities.
Although understandably, not everyone is comfortable in that environment. And it’s totally fine. But you need to be more open to learning and not just limit yourself to the four corners of the university. If you have an opportunity to build your social network, join people with similar interests, then by all means do it. There are a lot of opportunities in the outside world. You just have to be more open to it.
What suggestions can you give the fresh graduates or students who would want to apply for the same position in your company?
First, always be someone who craves to learn. Being willing to learn is different from actually craving to learn. You want to continuously have that fuel and push that moves you forward.
Second, take it one step at a time. As fresh grads, we receive a lot of expectations from people around us, and normally these expectations we tend to exaggerate. With this, we also try to rush things. We have to realize that success is not overnight, hence we should be taking it one step at a time.
Third, allow yourself to be a beginner again. A lot of the students and graduates base their career launch on what they have done in college. Let’s say you are accomplished as a student – you have Latin honors, you were in a lot of student organizations – that’s great. But you won’t start like that at work. You will start from scratch, and you have to be open to learning things again.
Lastly, don’t let your work be your identity. It’s just a part of yourself. I’m admittedly a workaholic, I value my work output a lot. And it’s not wrong to work hard for your personal accomplishments. It’s not wrong to aim for a higher position along the line. Our jobs are also the ones paying the bills. But I think the pandemic has made us realize that there are a lot of things outside work. It’s great to be known as a good employee at Company X, but it’s better if you will also be known as a good friend, an outgoing person who likes to skate or surf, or as a social endeavour volunteer. Having this healthy, balanced approach will ironically also improve your overall output at work.