I’m taking up graduate school, pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration and classes are during Saturdays.
It is a fairly large class, an average headcount of about 30 for the 3 classes. 5 of my colleagues are also (or were) my co-workers in the bank. We all compared our results in the qualifying exam (hey, they started it), wherein I got the highest mark and this irked one of them (hey, they started it, why the hate?) and she then arrogantly declared “Tignan na lang natin sa school mismo” (let’s just see when the actual classes begin). The malice in those words was screaming, she downplayed my (almost perfect) exam score suggesting that when classes start I shall surely fizzle.
Her words have some basis. I am not really the most productive in my former work. Another colleague actually told me “Pumapasok ka ba talaga dito, minsan kasi parang naglalaro ka lang eh” (Do you actually work here? Sometimes it seems to me you’re just playing.) I can understand where their coming from, compared to them I’ve had a fairly comfortable life. The fact is this, I was not motivated in that work (even though I lasted there for four years). I guess the privilege of being a financial analyst specializing in credit risk (credit analyst) was what kept me there. The work is supposed to be stunning, you get to know information about the many blue-chip companies in the country that other people salivate to know but cannot. But the way they ask us to handle it, really got me frustrated.
Think of a factory. According to dictionary.com, a factory is “any place producing a uniform product, without concern for individuality”. As the years have gone by, the concern to produce more reports to cover the increasing bank’s loan portfolio have led to the department revamping the way we made our reports. I cannot really discuss procedure here, but let’s say the changes have sacrificed quality for speed.
What do I mean by that? I asked one of the newer members of the group (she’s been there for more than a year already and can easily make reports quickly) about what she does as her job to which I expected her to answer something in the range of “We interpret data necessary for us to come up with the credit risk rating which quantifies the degree of risk the bank will assume when it releases the commercial loan to the client”. She answered “Gumawa ng report” (To make reports). I followed by asking her for what will her report be used to which she deftly replies “Para sa office” (For the office). To make reports for the office, she’s still correct really but it just shows how little of the actual importance of the job she understands. This can be traced to our lack of proper training, but still. The one that told me that I was just playing? Our boss commented on one her reports, on the part of the industry analysis about why she used some figures in US Dollars to which she spent a huge chunk of the afternoon poring over the problem when she could have simply omitted it (I read her report, it wasn’t really relevant to it) and submitted the final draft.
Back to graduate school. During the first day of every course, the professors explain that participation in the discussion among the class was an integral part of the learning process in MBA. It readies us not only for the eventual case analysis which is the final requirement to get the degree but also for the world after MBA where you expect a revamp of your professional life. Hearing this, I get encouraged about sharing some of my views about the presentations and discussions in the class. I am an opinionated guy (I have a blog) and I believe that my ideas may only be validated or disproved if I let other people, especially professionals who understand my views, know about them. The same girl who said I shall fizzle in class chose to just discuss her ideas to her seat mate. After the professor sided with one of my ideas, saying it was the proper way to construct a statement, she then blurts out “Yun yung sinasabi ko kay Jen kanina” (That was what I was telling Jen, her seat mate, earlier). Whatever woman, your seat mate won’t be the one noting your participation in class. It’s almost the same as when she lifted (read, copied) technical terms in her report once because I was known to use outlandish (well for them) terms in my reports.
Maybe, in retrospect, part of my decision to leave my former work was because of people like these. Insecure. The fact that a guy from a well to-do middle class family who had more talent and potential than them which makes the holes in their “armors” stand out rubs them the wrong way thus they need to make themselves feel that they are better than me to validate their own ego. I don’t care. I’m content to know about what I can do and what I can learn still. I am irritated or intimidated by them, I pity them. If they can make better of their lives so far then good for them, but I surely hope they can outgrow their insecurities. I have left them already, they can continue to live in their own bubble of mediocrity for as long as they like.