Written by Marvin Belina, MSDS 2020
Originally submitted on 10 November 2019, the winning piece for Life at AIM’s Student Contest for AIM’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
Updated 08 August 2020 by Life at AIM
“Every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision, and change”
The above quote is attributed to Richard Branson from whom the President and Dean of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), Dr. Jikyeong Kang, draws her inspiration. The position where AIM is at present is a strong testament to the truth and gravity of this statement.
A Solid History of Trailblazing and Excellence
Fifty years ago, AIM was founded and became a pioneer in management education in Asia. With consistently high global standards maintained throughout its decades of operations, AIM became the first school in Southeast Asia to receive accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). In 1995, AIM won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Nobel Prize of Asia, for promoting international understanding and setting region-wide standards for excellence. Seven years later, the institution was designated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a Center of Excellence in knowledge creation and management.
Over the five decades that have passed, AIM continued to excel and now prides itself with a strong 43,000+ alumni making great strides in different sectors and industries across different countries in the world.
Engendering Change and Adaptability
Recognizing the evolution of the business climate and the society at large, AIM once again proved that it understands its environment and adapts well within it to accommodate the changes around it. In line with the celebration of its golden anniversary, the institution has rebranded itself into an identity of a nexus – connecting businesses, government, and society in the modern era – while maintaining to pay homage to its rich heritage and legacy.
To complement its established programs in business administration, development management, and executive leadership, AIM launched new courses that respond well to the needs of the current times. Consistent with its history of pioneering programs with impact, AIM became the first in the Philippines and one of the firsts in the Asian region to offer a graduate degree in data science. For two years in a row now, its MS Data Science (MSDS) program maintained one of the highest ranks in the field of data analytics across Far East Asia, ahead of business schools in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Students of Master of Science in Innovation and Business (MSIB), on the other hand, are also consistently garnering awards from both local and international competitions including the IXL Innovation Olympics.
Consistent Real Impact
More than renovations, new programs, and numerous awards, AIM has opened up opportunities for a lot more people. Through the generous donation of the Aboitiz Group, AIM is now equipped to provide its students with more flexible study options, for example, through 0%-interest loans. This may seem simple and commonsensical for an institution to do or offer, but its effect ripples much further than one can imagine.
As a young professional from an underprivileged background, the idea for me of studying in an international business school seemed too far-fetched. Our family never owned the land. Due to financial constraints, my mother has not finished high school while my father has not finish college, and so have their parents and their parents’ parents. Now considering myself to be very privileged, I represent the family’s first generation to step into college and continue it further into a graduate degree program.
With this opportunity that AIM has opened, I now have the privilege of attending graduate school and gain access to the world-class minds of its faculty and students. This also provides me with a wide network reach into many public and private organizations, through its alumni and its strategic partnerships in and outside of the Philippines. Enabled by these benefits, I now have greater leverage to participate in more competitive professional environments, where otherwise, I would more likely not have access to.
Extending into the Society
Nevertheless, AIM’s impact extends beyond providing quality education and promising careers. AIM develops its students into business leaders capable of handling professional, entrepreneurial, and socially responsible roles. As a data science student, my journey does not stop after graduation on the road to becoming a full-fledged data scientist. It does not end with getting a full-time job with competitive compensation to support my family’s needs. These things or milestones only mark the beginning. They serve as a huge stepping stone, a great head start, into an extensive journey towards the ultimate goal that is nation-building.
After this program, we are looked forward to not only become data scientists but to become data science leaders. Beyond performing complex analysis and making data-driven decisions, we are being honed and enabled to advance causes and advocacies that align with AIM’s goal of developing us into competitive, ethical, and socially responsible professionals and practitioners.
This resonates well with my personal and professional experiences within the microfinance industry. A former microfinance client herself, my mother, when she was still alive, supported our education and other needs through availing small loans from a local microfinance institution (MFI). This same MFI paved my way into a generous scholarship program to complete my tertiary education. After graduating from college, I then worked in a microfinance thrift bank – a worthwhile experience that enlightened me into the broader systemic challenges that people in the lower socio-economic classes are facing.
Guided by this new perspective and realization, and through the analytical and leadership skills that I am acquiring through the MS Data Science program, I am now more capable and empowered to engage in the society where I can help to diminish the gap of socio-economic inequality and aid to create solutions that can provide more people with access to services, opportunities and hence, a better standard of living.
With a good balance of the technical knowledge, business understanding and social awareness that AIM instills into its students, we can develop programs that address these kinds of issues – a capability that I may not have had, had I not been able to pursue this graduate education, more so in an international institution.
The Next 50 Years
That capability of effecting change and bringing impact has always been a product of AIM. Consistently, it has produced alumni who have been directors of huge local and multinational listed companies, leaders of government institutions, and entrepreneurs in their fields. It has built a rich network of thousands of business and public leaders – a critical mass that effects change wherever they are in the world.
With the momentum that AIM has maintained in its identity as a pioneer of change for the better, AIM will continue, in the next 50 years, to contribute into shaping the society through the leaders it will produce who are inspired and can operate on a more wholistic lens – entrepreneurial, social, and ethical. Its impact will continue to change and transform more lives at an exponential rate as it continuously grows its network of alumni across more and more fields.
By remaining to be adaptive and responsive to the changes in its environment, AIM will not fail to prove the relevance of its role in the country and the broader region. It will continue to be the nexus where business, government, and society converge. For always, AIM will be at the heart of an ever-changing Asia and beyond.
I was a first-generation student in my family – first in college, and now with a graduate degree!
My parents never owned land or property. They didn’t work on white-collar jobs in the busy cities. They did not provide us with fancy clothes or the latest gadgets, but what they did provide to us, at a young age, was a strong resolve to always strive towards reaching our dreams and to keep ourselves grounded with humility and integrity.
Attending an international business school such as the Asian Institute of Management and studying data science and artificial intelligence has only been an aspiration, but with the help of numerous people who were very kind to support me and guide me through the process, I was finally able to complete this wonderful journey.
As I move forward, I am excited for the succeeding chapters that this milestone brings ahead!
Abesamis, T. (2017). Lead. Inspire. Transform.. BusinessWorld. Available at: https://www.bworldonline.com/lead-inspire-transform/.
Asian Institute of Management. At the Heart of an Ever-Changing Asia. Available at: https://www.aim.edu/about-us.
Philippine Primer. (2016). Asian Institute of Management. Available at: https://primer.com.ph/study/2016/05/31/asian-institute-of-management/.