August 10, 2013

The Rookie Among the Honchos

I was tasked to deliver a presentation about our company, but I never expected to be speaking next to the COO of AXA Philippines.

It was ASPLI's 2nd Learning Session for 2013. ASPLI or the Association of Service Professionals in Life Insurance is composed of different life insurance companies such as AXA Life, Sunlife, Cocolife, Manulife, BPI Philamlife, Prulife, Asianlife, Insular life, and others. It is dedicated in uplifting customer service here in the Philippines. 

Before entering the conference center of Asian Institute of Management, I was expecting to see a small crowd of young professionals, but as I opened the door, I saw a big crowd of old(er) people in suits and dresses. I saw a photo of me in a pull up banner next to photos of the other speakers: the COO of AXA life, the president of SmartQ System Corporation, and a senior manager of Eastwest Bank Corporation. I felt like running away from the building. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

I tried to compose myself by thinking about my past encounters with different people: the head honchos that I have negotiated with, the demanding business owners that I have closed a deal with, the big names that I have been given the chance to discuss matters on business expansions, and even the old owners who frown upon seeing how young I look. (cue in the Phineas and Ferb's "aren't you a bit young to be doing x?") In a way, I was able to calm down.

My peace didn't last long; when Sir Ariel "Ton" Magtoto (COO of AXA Life Philippines) started his speech, I was swept to my feet. He was so good, and the very specific best practices that he was sharing were things that only someone who has dedicated his whole life for his craft can share. I actually had a whole page for all his pieces of advice and at that brief moment, I was so engulfed in thinking that IF I stay in the corporate world, then this is the kind of person that I would like to aspire for.

Sir Ton finished his speech, and there I was - rattled. I mean how could I match that?! There was no way. I drank a glass of water and gave myself a goal:

"Arlet, your only goal now is to not trip, not puke, not swear, and deliver your point about your company. Absolutely no one is expecting anything from you, no one is expecting for you to match a COO's speech. Don't fret, Arlet. Don't fret."

Well, that worked. And I was so thankful that I didn't do anything that would be disgraceful for myself or for the company that I was representing (or did I? HAHAHA). The audience were also very gracious. And it's true, "The audience almost always want you to succeed. Unless you're a politician, chances are, you are facing a nice crowd."

They were answering my questions, laughing at my jokes, and participating in the discussion. Sir Ton was even so nice to congratulate me after the event, while Sir Jim (senior manager of Eastwest bank) talked with me regarding how we might be able to help each other in the industry.

It was a very insightful event and an inspiring experience for me. In the future, however, I know I will not get away with only humor. I need to have more substance as I grow older. For that, I have to learn KPIs, finance, a bit of how systems and technology works, etc. There's just so much to improve on that it becomes very exciting!

"Even if you are the youngest person at the table, you're at the table. Don't be afraid to make your voice heard. Just make it count"



  1. Wow! I am SO proud of you, Arlet! :)

    1. Thank you, Ate Judy! I actually remembered Dr. Sarile, and I was thinking she'd disown me if I do something wrong. HAHAHAHA


Ooops, watch out for the captcha!