Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Personal Essay: MY Ateneo LSE JOURNEY
File name: Ahmadul, Al-Madzhar J.
Deadline: one week after Session 12 (last formal session)


I am Al-Madzhar Jundam Ahmadul, a native of Jolo Sulu, but grew up in the streets of Sampaloc Manila. As a second generation OFW, I spent my childhood days with grandparents while my parents are abroad. When I finished college and passed the Physical Therapy board exam in 1998, my parents immediately sent me a family visit visa to stay with them here in Qatar. That was twenty years ago and since then – and with 6 kids on my own all of whom but one were born in Qatar - I have called Qatar as home.

As with the “Langit sa piling mo”, of the anthem goes, I realized in me an inexplicable yearning to return to my roots. Add to that a healthy dose of megalomania, that self-belief that one can indeed leave a dent in this world and embark on an immortality project (a project still benefits people even after one is dead) I explored many ways of accomplishing that. I have followed and tried to learn from likes of ‘Uthman bin Affan, Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf and the current ‘guides’ such as Mohammed Younus, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ray Dalio, Benjamin Franklin, Malcolm Gladwell, Charles Duhigg, Angela Duckworth, Tony Seba and many other ‘mentors’ and indeed has gotten from them a decent amount of understanding that if one puts one’s own mind into something and focus on it, there could be a chance to change things. However, I needed a systematic approach wherein the collective wisdom of these business and Tech Gurus and others like them can be presented to me in a comprehensive package. At the end of this search, I have found social entrepreneurship as the most win-win approach that firstly benefits myself, my family and has the potential to trickle down to my community and society at large. When my friend, Mark Santos informed me about Ateneo LSE, I didn’t hesitate a bit and was excited to be in.
Personally, I just want to be with my family - including my parents – and spend a lifetime with them and navigate through the ups and downs of life. I have made breaking the cycle of the need to work abroad as one of the missions of my life – while simultaneously improving the lives of my people. Big dreams right, but its free to think big and this gives me more reason to accept the struggles of life.

Many of what the program has offered confirmed my understanding from my personal quest of leadership and its variations (servant leadership etc.) The session about leadership contained lots of wisdom and even gave practical and real recent examples such as war against drugs. That we need ethical leadership above all was the primary message I took home that day. It might be noted though that the presentation did not mention Integrity as a fundamental need of leadership. It seems that the people of the Philippines – or at least those who put the current leadership in its position – care more about integrity than ethics. They chose a leader who walk the walk and talk the talk. They couldn’t care less about the morality of the leader if the choice is between morality and integrity. They saw a leader – with his home city as the example – who might not be the best of example for our kids in terms of speaking – but stands tall in terms of fighting against corruption.
I would say, of all the sessions, I benefited most from Financial Literacy. I wish that somebody told me the stages when I first held a job and made my own money. However, it wouldn’t hurt though if the presenter would weave the presentation with more hems of hope rather than the despair of reality. Although I wasn’t depressed when the sessions ended, I wasn’t hopeful either. And hope – that anticipation of a better tomorrow - is the only reason why we continue to do what we do despite everything else.

From all the quests and the conclusions I have made, I didn’t know that it has a terminology. When the idea of financially improving one’s self and family, and at the same time solving some of the nation’s woe through entrepreneurship dawned on me, I didn’t know that people call it social entrepreneurship. Ever since I learned the term it stuck with me. Hence, when ALSE appeared on the horizon, I didn’t have second thoughts in joining. I learned that the UN has identified sustainable goals as guide to social entrepreneurship. And so, six months have passed and here we I am writing this essay on wee hours of the morning because tomorrow is my last, last, dead, deadline…
I am excited to present the business plan my team made as we hope that we can improve poverty and food threshold of the Filipino family while throwing electricity into the mix. No, we will not electrocute people but we aim to harness the power of green energy and help put food on the table of poor families.

In the future, I would wish that the program offers the importance of failure and handling it as a prerequisite of success. Here are some of my suggestions that the program can include in the future:

  • 1Failure – the importance of failing early and failing small
  • 2SWOT analysis
  • 3The basic of market research and market segmentation with a special touch of marketing in the Philippines
  • 4How to register a business and its intricacies – real life experiences
  • 5How to get funding – including crowd funding
  • 6Crowd sourcing
  • 7The basics of Corporation
  • 8Emotional Intelligence
  •  Current trends in Technology and how Philippines can be a player in technology and not just agriculture. I mean look at Vietnam!
  •    The importance of finding a mentor – Thanks to the ALSE team for their great hard work

With that I truly wish everyone a success. Thank you.

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