Learning curve

We all have the ability to acquire new learnings, but this is not possible until we open our minds and really want to learn. Just like how our bodies need food for nourishment, our minds need to be fed with continuous knowledge.

When I took my Master’s in Business Administration at the Graduate School of Business at De La Salle University, it was undoubtedly an incredible experience that enriched my career, expanded my industry horizons and added new lifelong friends and colleagues.

Last June 22, it was a privilege to be back at my alma mater and an honor for me to call the new batch of graduates my fellow alumni.

With gratitude, I stood before all the graduates and shared my journey and imparted a few truths about life and business that I picked up throughout my career. Hopefully I inspired them as they headed back to the real world.

Learning is a lifelong adventure. Remember the saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In other words, learning goes beyond the classroom. Why should you stop learning if life never stops teaching, right?

Every day is a learning portal. Life teaches us something new by the experiences we make and need to be lifelong learners and to surround ourselves with people who will help us improve and stay relevant in this ever-changing world.

Every day you see advances in artificial intelligence and digital opportunities that are part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another. As technology has its way of developing itself, so do we.

Most of you may not know this, but I actually started my career as a banker. After a few years, I decided to join Wilcon back when it was just a small shop on Quezon Avenue. Our chairman and founder William Belo had the vision to make Wilcon the leading home improvement retail chain in the country. In order to help achieve this, I had to learn the business inside out, relying only on my own resourcefulness and learning by doing. This was a pivotal moment in my life.

After many years of hard work, Wilcon finally made a name for itself and expanded all across the country. But even with success in sight, I always wanted to continue learning, so I decided then to pursue MBA in La Salle. My hunger for knowledge allowed me to achieve greater heights in my career, and eventually gave me the opportunity to help transform Wilcon to what it is today — one of the top-performing publicly listed companies in the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Remember the saying that your net worth is your network. Take retail for example. One of the reasons Wilcon Depot became what it is today is because of the strong relationships we’ve established with architects, engineers, suppliers, and business partners over the years.

How can you sustain a relationship? The late Henry Sy said it best: “In life and in business, you need to be good-hearted and trustworthy. This is the way to build long-term relationships.”

I’ve always followed his advice, especially after I became president of the Philippine Retailers Association recently. More importantly, the people closest to you such as your family are the ones you should measure your worth with the most. They are the inspiration that will keep you going and focused, and I feel so blessed to have a loving husband, son, mother, and many more family members who support me and keep me in line.

Stanford University alumnus and author Seth Godin was on point when he said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”