by Francis Perez

MAY 18, 2020 – Last February 15-16, 2020, the officers and managers of the Universitas Foundation, Inc. (VOMs) had their first ever team-building seminar in Happynest Farm, Sta. Ana, Pampanga. The venue, which used to be a commercial poultry farm before it was transformed into a smaller all-natural backyard farm, provides an exclusive, serene and spacious site suitable for rest, company retreats or team building activities. 

The Universitas team-building seminar served as an occasion for its officers and managers to improve on the skills and qualities they need in order to develop and execute the different projects of the Foundation. Among these exercises were a public speaking workshop called Pecha Kucha and a process management workshop for managing our projects and activities.

Some of the officers who arrived early were able to tour the venue and see its different amenities, such as a simple yet beautiful vegetable garden, as well as a space where visitors could feed the different animals of the farm-like resort. 

The VOM’s have lunch upon arrival at Happy Nest Farm in Sta. Ana, Pampanga

The seminar proper was begun with a simple invocation, which was followed by some remarks from Atty. Angela Butalid, the CEO. She emphasized that one of the goals of the officers of the Foundation is to institutionalize the different systems of each of the activities, projects and programs (APPs). In this way, greater focus can be given to creating higher impacts and major milestones, at the same time that the Foundation tries to attract more volunteers to join the Universtas Fellows Program (UFP) this year.

 “Unlike other foundations, the beneficiaries here – aside from our outreach arm – are the volunteers themselves. The  envisioned ‘leaders with competence, stable moral character and well-formed conscience’ are not an abstract concept, they are you. Our duty as the first generation of volunteers is to agree on a clear and aligned framework, both for policy and operations. Our first task is to make sure each one reaps the benefits of our fellows program, and our expansion will follow naturally,” Atty. Angela later said in an interview.

UFP Director Tomas Socrates then discussed the current state of the fellows program, explaining the need to make it more visible among the fellows-officers themselves since it will encompass several committees and APPs in the Foundation. This paved the way for an open-forum discussion wherein the other VOMs pitched in ideas on how they can better present the UFP to future applicants, such as by providing visuals and re-framing how the nature of the program is explained.

“We needed to clarify UFP during the seminar because not everyone had a bird’s eye-view of the program last year; as a result, we were not able to plan well the accomplishment of its tasks. Also, we observed that the UFP Team’s campaign for the awareness of the program had a lot to improve on. The seminar was the perfect opportunity to address these concerns,” according to the UFP Director.

A public speaking exercise then followed. Prior to the exercise, the officers were informed in advance to prepare a presentation on a topic they’re passionate about and which they find might be interesting for the group. The exercise involved the use of the Pecha Kucha, a presentation technique that originated in Japan and utilizes 20 slides that will automatically change every 20 seconds. 

The exercise was led by Project Management Officer Jaio Aquino and Chief Media Officer Jubert Maquiling. It required the presenters to choose the right image and words to communicate their intentions effectively given the time limitation. As well as giving the officers a chance to get to know each other better, the exercise helped the participants identify the ways in which they can improve their presentations – a skill that is relevant in conducting leadership courses and the get-togethers organized by Universitas.

The seminar also included a SWOT analysis which allowed the participants to evaluate their performance as officers of the Foundation and see how the same can be improved. Leading the exercise, Jaio explained that “the SWOT analysis [was] designed to help the team strategize on how to grow and manage the foundation as a whole as well as its smaller components.”  The SWOT analysis during the team building, Jaio related, “allowed individual members to contribute their inputs and combine them as a whole in order for the group to synergize and integrate.” 

After some hours spent in analysis, the officers were able to come up with concrete resolutions regarding the operation of the Foundation’s systems, which are reflective of its three core values – competence, stable moral character and well-formed conscience.

Sir Jubert was also able to share a very informative orientation on how the officers could maximize their access to the Foundation’s GSuite Tools for the sake of digital efficiency in project management. The team-building seminar wrapped up with the Deputy Operations Officer Zion Yuson giving the participants a process management workshop which taught them the proper structure in relation to developing the processes necessary for the officers’ respective projects in the Foundation.

VOM’s during the bonfire

Finally, the team-building seminar could not have finished without the fellows spending enough time and rest with each other. A relaxing and intimate bonfire capped the day as it allowed the officers to bond together, singing and sharing with each other personal stories, in keeping with the spirit friendship which is central to every activity of Universitas.