How I got my job: Ayala Foundation’s Education Lead Ireneo Demecais Jr.

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How I got my job is a series that spotlights a specific job or position that isn’t often featured in media. Through this series, we hope to shed light on the duties and work-life of some of the most interesting jobs in the Philippines. We’ll also share a few tips from insiders on how to land one of these positions.

This week, Pacifiqa talks to Ayala Foundation’s Education Lead Ireneo Demecais Jr.


What is your job title?

Education Lead for Programs.


How would you describe your job? What are the key tasks of an Education Lead?

As Education Lead, my key tasks include supervising the different education projects of the foundation, and formulating processes and procedures for projects geared at helping public elementary schools increase their learning indicators and allow the community to participate in achieving the goal. This can be in the form of training, mentoring, and strategic support.

I also manage stakeholders, specifically working with different organizations and government agencies. I do a lot of presentations to organizations that are interested in education advocacy.

My most interesting task is to be a storyteller. I always see to it that I tell the story behind the numbers of the projects I do.



Why did you choose this line of work?

I am a product of the Ayala Group of Companies’ leadership program for the youth called “The Ayala Young Leaders Congress” which gathers 81 of the best young leaders in the country during their penultimate year. I was one of the lucky 81 in year 2001.

Looking back on the Congress I attended, I was impressed by the importance of values, leadership, and the pride of being a Filipino that the organizers showed. From then on, I knew that one day, I will work in a company that can suffice my need for daily living, harness my leadership potential, enable my critical thinking skills, and also give me the opportunity to extend services to those who are least and are less.

So, Ayala Foundation was a perfect match for me!


What are your qualifications for this job?

According to the official list of qualifications for my position, one must have a track record of managing a project that has become successful, a clear understanding of the education scenario locally and globally, can understand trends and evolution, and good project management skills, among others.

Additionally, I am passionate about education and my advocacy and partnership skills have also benefited me well in doing my work.


What educational preparation and training would you recommend for someone who would like to do this kind of work? 

Good background and experience in project management is a must. Try to get as much training and experience as you can as a facilitator and trainer. It will also be a good advantage for this job if you have at least knowledge in finance which is needed in the budgeting aspect of this work.


What is the advancement potential in this field? What is a typical path? 

In my experience, a lot of organizations, regardless if they are non-profit or for profit, need individuals who are good project managers. A project manager who can be a generalist in approach, but can also be an expert in a specific field, like in my case, my interest really is on education and training.

Most successful project or program managers start as support staff for any type of project, may it be training or product-oriented. However, what makes support staff rise from the ranks is that you are given the chance to understand the whole process of project management. So, support staff can have various functions such as training, monitoring, mobilizing, marketing, and so on.

The typical path is from support staff, to senior support, then supervisor, assistant manager, and then manager.


Describe a typical day for you.

Eighty percent of my time is dedicated in ensuring that all support staff are meeting targets. Ten percent is dedicated to meetings, most of which are for developing new partners. The rest of the time is hinged on direction-setting, report-making, and some administrative work which enable others to work in sync with the plans.



What has been your most rewarding experience at this job? 

The most rewarding is when you go on field and hear the stories of those whose lives have been changed because of the work that we are doing in the Foundation. Such as when students or teachers tell you that they learned to love studying because we have provided them a different way to look at things. These are the times when I pat myself on the back and whisper that I have done a great job.

I remember one student from Ilocos Sur telling me the story of one of his classmates that before our project, his classmate was so ashamed of sharing his report cards to them, but after our project, this classmate of them now has been very open in showing his grades.


What has been the most challenging?

There are challenges every day in this type of work. Since I am dealing with people, misunderstanding or managing expectations always come into play. This kind of challenge comes in different levels. They can be within the organization, between co-workers or boss-staff relationship. Also, this can be experienced in dealing with partners and their demands.


What career advice would you give to those who would like to follow a similar path? 

This is a very rewarding job as I have experienced it! This job has allowed me to share my expertise, get paid, and help others.

My career advice is, if you want to pursue this kind of job, you need to get out of your comfort zone. To deliver what is needed is just part of it. You have to push yourself to your growth zone to understand the relationship of the process. Allow yourself to be trained, mentored, and of course do a lot of self-study.


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