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Thursday, June 13, 2024

‘Everlasting (Book)Mark’

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Our CEO series class had the opportunity to meet and know the president of Bookmark PH. Unlike the previous CEOs, Dr. Anna Maria Tan-Delfin is the president of a family business, and some might say that she inherited the position from her father.

I realized there must be something different in her mindset as a CEO. I first noticed that Ma’am Delfin is grounded by her core value of close family ties. She might be a successful president, but the whole talk has this ambiance of closeness, simplicity and openness. It felt like a family reunion rather than a class session.

The Unchosen One

There are times when opportunities choose us even though we don’t expect it. For Ma’am Delfin, this is exactly how her life began. She grew up believing that she would be a veterinarian. She has the license and the expertise for that profession, but life has different plans for her. Because of her business instincts and innate closeness to their family staff, the board of directors chose her to inherit the CEO title.

Ma’am Delfin was open to the fact that she didn’t have the right expertise to lead their business. She had to shadow his father, give him time to train on the job and slowly understand the ins and outs of their operations.

It was mind-boggling to me because it was not like she wanted the job; the directors chose her. Here, I realized that being a CEO is not confined by our chosen career path. Sometimes, the chance to be a leader suddenly appears, and we must take advantage of it.

Moreover, I realized that technicalities in leadership could be learned in many ways. Ma’am Delfin learned it on the job, while I’m currently trying to learn it as an MBA student.

Leadership is vague and detailed all at the same time. It can be both instinctual and calculated. For this reason, leaders can be made or be born. As for Ma’am Delfin, she got the job not only because she was born to be a leader but also because she stayed on the top and made herself into a competitive CEO.

Love for Marawi

The topic that made a lasting impact on me was the Marawi storybooks initiative from Bookmark.

Bookmark assisted our war-stricken homeland by crafting storybooks about the lore and history of Marawi and Lanao Del Sur. The publishing company welcomed the culture of Muslim Mindanao with open arms. They did not impose the practices and normalcy of our society. Still, they got experts from Lanao Del Sur to create historically accurate stories infused with the ethos of the IDPs of Marawi. It was an initiative to preserve and promote a distinct and rich culture.

As a Muslim and a Mindanaoan, the moment Ma’am Delfin started to talk about the Marawi initiative, it made me realize what her real mission is as a publishing company leader. As a family-centric CEO, she wanted to use her platform to educate our country on how beautiful our diverse culture is. She wanted to show that diversity is a weapon and, at the end of the day, we are all Filipinos.

As I asked more about the Marawi storybook initiative, she gave me precious advice about cultural preservation. She said that, as Muslims, we should always keep our culture at the forefront and that even if we need to adapt to steadily live a stable life, we must take opportunities to promote our culture when able.

In less than 20 minutes of talking, Ma’am Delfin made me think about my decisions as an MBA student. Now I realize that I chose this path not only for myself or the betterment of my career but, in some way, also to show society that my culture is not a hindrance but an asset to give me an edge in being a successful business professional.

Ma’am Delfin was not the most prominent among the CEOs we had, but she made the most impact on me. I started absorbing her values and rethinking mine. She made me reignite my dreams for a better Mindanao and reassured me that our uniqueness is a gift and not a burden to this challenging world.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Anna Maria T. Delfin died on May 7, 2023. The author’s reflection based on her talk to the class is a fitting tribute to a wonderful person who touched so many lives. Rest in Peace, Mari.

The author is an MBA student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, DLSU. He can be reached at baliamen_mamainte-iii@dlsu.edu.ph.

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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