classy

Hear that rusty, creaking sound?

Well, that’s me switching my brain to “student mode”. Last week I began a leadership and management course at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education. I’ll be hurdling this course for the next three months, sitting in class for a total of 14 hours per week (including all Saturdays of summer, ouch), and praying three days a week for a good parking space in crazy Makati.

And I’m stoked! It’s a welcome change to be in a formal learning setting again, complete with handouts, classmates, and debates. And, yes, homework too (this part isn’t too exciting). I joined a batch of over 30 managers representing a hodgepodge of industries—IT, hospitality, construction, FMCGs (fast-moving consumer goods), automotive, real estate. We also come from various functional expertise—sales and marketing, finance, human resource, operations, manufacturing. As the sole dude from publishing and book distribution, I’m happy to contribute to and learn from this rich tapestry of professional experiences.

When we had the requisite introduce-yourself exercise during the first meeting, I was happy to find that several of my classmates recognized our publishing house, bookshop, and books. One even came up to me during coffee break and said she frequents our Makati bookshop. Another told me that he found one of our leadership books, The Way of the Shepherd, very helpful. Praise God!

Judging from past experience, I know that I can be very conspicuous in a classroom setting—and not just because I am tall, but also, and perhaps mainly, because I can be boisterous and, er, competitive. (Yes, in the past, I was usually that kid in class whose hand shot up one time too many to recite, who cheered and jeered—good-naturedly, I hope—during group presentations, and who dispensed from a bag of humorous asides that brought down the class in fits of laughter and sometimes derailed the teacher.) For this class of, eherm, management professionals, I had resolved to tone down “Bibo Kid” mode a few notches lower.

But I’m not sure if I’m succeeding.

Yesterday at the end of the long Saturday session, the training coordinator came in to conduct a class election for President and Vice President. Guess who the class elected (well, “called out” is more accurate) for President. Put on the spot and feeling awkward, the only thing I could muster to say was, “Do I get discretionary funds?” Everyone laughed, and some demanded a treat for my “victory.” I’m thinking Chocnut.

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