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[Legacy Lumine] We Lead: Lessons on Leadership

Hear from UP JMA's 2021-2022 Executive Committee as they reflect on their year leading the organization.

1. What made you step up to the challenge of leading the organization?

Annika Ponco, President: Knowing this role is challenging before it even began, my choice of leading UP JMA was backed by a lot of belief. On one hand, it was my hope in the potential of the organization – in the growth it offers its members and its ability to forward causes and communities beyond it. On another hand, I owe it to the trust I received from fellow UP JMA members. If it weren’t for people who believed in my leadership capabilities, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being an Executive Committee member in the first place!

Atari Academia, External Affairs: Credit goes to the people in and around the organization that I hoped to serve. I wanted to do what I could for the members I continue to learn from, the stakeholders we dedicate our efforts to, and those I have to thank for believing in me and pushing me to go for it!

Santi Palmiery, Finance: Being inspired by the people I work and interact with in UP JMA is what primarily encouraged me to step up to being the Finance VP of the organization. This inspiration was particularly strengthened during my time as JMAster Class Chairperson and FP Head, as I came to the realization that I have much to learn from our diverse member base, all coming from different walks of life and equipped with different yet equally meaningful skills and knowledge. Thus, running for VP, it was important for me to listen to and reflect on the concerns and ideas of members not only in my committee, but those also from all over the organization. Ultimately, I decided to step up only when I felt confident that I could dedicate my 110% in delivering on these ideas and truly being a representative of the people and causes we serve.

Kelly Alviar, Internal Affairs: Much of who I am today is a product of my interactions with other people and challenging work experiences, from the moment I applied four years ago. Each conversation, each frustration, each risk I have endured ultimately translated into and evolved my love for the organization. Honestly, because of these experiences and more, the mere action of running in the election with or without the victory was something I truly owed to UP JMA.

Joaquin Mercado, Publicity and Communications: Beyond the grandeur of the title and the position, being a leader is ultimately a commitment to serve. Thus, the foremost consideration I had in signing myself up for the task of being Vice President was the question of “do I have to something to offer to my committee and to the organization?”. It turns out the answer was a resounding yes. So, despite all the fears and what-ifs that ran abound, I knew that my experiences inside and outside the organization led me to this very opportunity to be of service to UP JMA.

Jeridi Rubis, Socials and Public Relations: While leading UP JMA may seem like such a daunting task, my motivation to serve lies in the ability to make a lasting impact on both internal and external stakeholders. I attribute a lot of my personal and professional growth to my earlier positions and find service-oriented work to be very fulfilling. Leading the organization is truly the best way to give back to the organization that has given you so much.


2. Walk us through your vision. What changes did you want to make and what legacy did you wish to leave behind?

With marketing essentially being a problem-solution fit, I wanted UP JMA to provide as much value as possible to its internal and external stakeholders.

Annika Ponco, President: With marketing essentially being a problem-solution fit, I wanted UP JMA to provide as much value as possible to its internal and external stakeholders. Internally, I envisioned the organization to tune into what truly matters for its members – from personal development to genuine relationship-building. Externally, I envisioned UP JMA as an org in-touch with the times, and is able to innovate yet sustainably solve underlying need gaps of its partners and beneficiaries.

While this was a somewhat vague two-pronged vision for UP JMA, I am also a believer that legacies need not be tangible or grand! In retrospect, maybe the legacy I wanted to leave behind was a way of leadership — of navigating through problems simply and grounding solutions to the people of the org.

Atari Academia, External Affairs: I hoped to work towards a UP JMA that empowers its members to take on challenges creatively and develop an environment where we as members are able to celebrate the org’s wins, but also address its points for improvement, all while striving to offer only the best to our partners and beneficiaries.

Santi Palmiery, Finance: My vision for UP JMA was for it to bring about meaningful, innovative, and sustainable impact toward its stakeholders, which includes its members and beneficiaries. For this, I wanted to create more efficient and effective systems for raising money and processing transactions for the org, increase financial transparency, and give more help to the KIDS. For the most part, my teams and I were able to fulfill these through introducing PayMongo, regularly releasing financial transparency reports, raising and sustaining the KIDS stipend, and even creating a new team to raise funds for JMA teams called Financial Executions or FinEx.

In ensuring that our internal stakeholders always have opportunities to grow as leaders in a healthy organizational climate amid increasingly pessimistic times, I hope that JMAers have in some way become empowered and inspired.

Kelly Alviar, Internal Affairs: Empowerment, sustainability, and connection were my main platforms as I began serving UP JMA as its Internals VP. Throughout my term, I like to think that these were most expressed through my priority for development and welfare of members, applicants, and alumni. In ensuring that our internal stakeholders always have opportunities to grow as leaders in a healthy organizational climate amid increasingly pessimistic times, I hope that JMAers have in some way become empowered and inspired. This was evident in the iterated innovation of the teams and their projects, such as welfare initiatives and grievance forms, the reinstatement of Alumni Relations for continued connection, and the introduction of the Internal Development team focused on new members and the face-to-face transition plan for sustainability.

Joaquin Mercado, Publicity and Communications: With everything transitioning to the online space, I envisioned a UP JMA that led not just in the projects it mounted, but also in the manner in which it communicated them — ultimately, I envisioned a UP JMA that could cut through the noise. To do this, I, along with my committee, worked towards a UP JMA grounded by purpose through developing a cross-platform media strategy which included revitalizing our social media platforms and maximizing the potential of our website. Moreover, the committee built the foundations for an organization driven by data which included pioneering market research for our recruitment campaign and application process. And to finish it off, with our talented members, we were able to construct a UP JMA connected by design, developing the organization's graphic language and ensuring its brand consistency in the years to come.

All in all, the legacy I wished to leave behind was not that of revolutionary measures or head-turning changes, but rather I simply wanted to help the organization remain one step ahead of the rest — institutionalizing creative thinking founded on the pursuit of purpose-driven innovation and imbibing in our members the willingness for creative experimentation, allowing UP JMA to truly understand what it means to lead.

Jeridi Rubis, Socials and Public Relations: Going beyond its role as a marketing organization, I envisioned UP JMA to use its platform to amplify purposeful advocacies and take action on pressing national issues. Through mounting several socially-relevant campaigns and initiatives, the organization would be able to actualize its core thrust of service – providing impactful and sustainable solutions that would help address society’s needs in the long run.


3. What was your most memorable experience as a member of the Executive Committee?

Annika Ponco, President: While this may be trivial for some, a memorable experience would be handling our monthly internal Town Halls. Maybe it’s being constantly amazed at our teams’ progress – or maybe it’s the nerves of being a challenged Zoom host and Facebook streamer — but it’s always a fun time gathering members for the purpose of staying informed and supportive of our various projects. And with everything online, the Town Hall’s a good way to reconnect with members amid busy weeks of the past academic year.

Atari Academia, External Affairs: A random but memorable part of my experience would have to be facilitating buffer time/ice breakers before the start of town hall! It was a fun way to interact with everyone even virtually, and I think it’s also a reminder of all the little things I didn’t immediately realize would be a part of the job as an Executive Committee member but learn to enjoy in the process.

Santi Palmiery, Finance: I cherish every moment and experience—big or small—but if I were to choose one memorable experiment, it would be the Week F2F Day held last April. Oftentimes, I take my work too seriously—raising my standards constantly while pushing myself to the limit—but it was during that event that I was reminded of how rooted UP JMA was in its “work hard, play hard” culture. It was then that I was able to meet friends in person, for the first time, and also catch up with those who I have met back then. It reminded me that we are a college org, and as much as we take pride in our servant-leadership and excellence, we are also here to be part of a community, make new memories, and share laughter with one another.

Kelly Alviar, Internal Affairs: Dealing with pressure, crises, and unexpected changes is a staple Executive Committee experience, and I particularly enjoyed this while organizing the recruitment campaign of both semesters! As my leadership skills were put to the test, I also witnessed immense character-building and overflowing potential in others. Within a crazy short period of time, everyone involved is peak-invested into the org, marked by high-quality outputs, tireless realignments, and daily flow states. On top of that, it is always so thrilling to see the results! The recruitment campaign, being a collaboration between multiple teams and individuals all with different purposes, never failed to invigorate my passion for leadership as an executive officer.

Joaquin Mercado, Publicity and Communications: This may seem like an easy-out, but I mean it when I say that I don’t have one definitive memorable moment as a member of the Executive Committee. What I do have however are sparks of joy every now and then when I see my team members release visually-stunning assets, mount game-changing events, and ultimately exceed the goals that they set out for themselves. See, that’s what’s most memorable about this leadership position — being able to hold the ladder for others as they climb it towards all the growth and success that they work so hardly for.

Jeridi Rubis, Socials and Public Relations: My most memorable experience would be having to stay up on random nights with my fellow Executive Committee members to meet or work on urgent tasks. While one cannot anticipate when such will happen, it is always a pleasure to serve the organization and its stakeholders.


4. What does #WeLead mean to you?

Annika Ponco, President: Leadership is never done alone! As President, I’ve been humbled by other UP JMA members who work so diligently and passionately for the org’s projects (it’s actually contagious!) Within the Executive Committee, I’ve grown so much from the vice presidents and their ability to initiate difficult discourses, to weigh-out the right decisions, and to synergize different perspectives for the common goal of serving the org’s best interests. Literally, there is no “I” in #WeLead, and things are done better together!

Atari Academia, External Affairs: I think as our motto it does great to sum up how we do things in UP JMA! It’s a simple way of communicating something so substantial in that any and all positions in the org are mediums for leadership. All of our projects, initiatives, and achievements are fueled by the amalgamation of our members’ efforts.

Santi Palmiery, Finance: Truth be told, it has been difficult for me to find an exact meaning to #WeLead, as every day dawns on me new perspectives on what our motto is and how it relates to my experiences. At times, our motto serves as a battle cry to push through with plans and agenda that better serve the org and our beneficiaries. At other times, it serves as a reminder that we are diverse in skill and function — yet singular in direction and purpose — with leadership and excellence at the forefront of what we do. But lately, I have also learned that when we truly lead as an org, we diminish ourselves individually so as to kindle and raise others, hopefully allowing others in the org to learn and lead as well.

Kelly Alviar, Internal Affairs: Externally, #WeLead is concretized in UP JMA’s ability to assert its status as the premier marketing organization, through promoting the significance of marketing as we do in MarkEd and Embassy, while fulfilling a genuine service for our stakeholders and beneficiaries. Internally, #WeLead through tapping the diverse strengths of the member base and channeling them into personal and organizational achievement. To lead in UP JMA is to recognize that each individual and every collaboration, no matter how seemingly immaterial, are indispensable to upholding our standard of excellence.

Joaquin Mercado, Publicity and Communications: I think what has always struck me about #WeLead is its emphasis not on the individual, but rather on the collective body of the organization. And my term as part of the Executive Committee has blessed me with a front-row view on the members that make up the organization and the successes that we achieve as a whole, all in all allowing us to bring to life what it means to lead — together.

Jeridi Rubis, Socials and Public Relations: #WeLead encapsulates the organization’s excellence in various fields — including event mounting, networking, consultancy, publicity and promotions, cause marketing, and member development. Leading together allows us to achieve more with marketing!


5. In three words, describe your term as part of the Executive Committee.

Annika Ponco, President: One JMA Forever!
Atari Academia, External Affairs: Fun, fun, fun! :D
Santi Palmiery, Finance: Serving without return!
Kelly Alviar, Internal Affairs: Trial by fire :)
Joaquin Mercado, Publicity and Communications: Definitely, no regrets xD
Jeridi Rubis, Socials and Public Relations: Challenging, yet fulfilling!


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