The Alumni Association of AIM - Philippines (AAAIM) marks its 40th year milestone with an impressive
hardware and systems reboot.
Laying the Foundation for A Stronger AAAIM
Recent years and circumstances, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced us to reevaluate and adapt to the so-called “new normal”. But even without these global events, no one can deny the upsurge in the popularity of digital communication channels, such as social media and other technology. An impelling force, particularly for the Alumni Association of AIM - Philippines (AAAIM), was the challenge of creating a more inclusive and more diverse representation in the policy-making Board to increase alumni involvement.
These dramatic changes in our paradigm of engagement have eroded the traditional methods in favor of a more personalized “high-tech yet high-touch” approach to communications – undoubtedly a challenge even in these trying times, and AAAIM is rising to meet this challenge.
Formally and officially registered in January 1981, AAAIM completed last May 2021 a five year long process of extensive alumni consultations, benchmarking studies, developing new frameworks aimed at maximizing representation and diversity at the Board level, appreciating various aspects of alumni engagement, drafting appropriate wordings to amend the Association by-laws and Articles of Incorporation, finally securing the official mandate from the alumni community and officially filing the documentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the first quarter of 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission returned a formal approval. The
AAAIM is now fully compliant with the Revised Corporation Code and, given the comprehensive vetting and approval by the SEC is updated in its corporate governance.
Managing the Change
Even prior to the pandemic lockdowns, AAAIM already recognized the need to get more active engagement from a larger and more diverse pool of AIM Alumni. There were then some 44,000 AIM alumni, 60% of which were Filipino and the ones directly under the charge of AAAIM, the biggest alumni association. The other 40% of alumni are under the charge of the Federation of AIM Alumni Association, if there is a country chapter that has been established. AIM alumni are very diverse spanning the five decades of AIM, across seven degree programs, and a huge number of non-degree or certificate programs. Clearly, a one-size-fits-all approach to alumni engagement is no longer tenable in an era of social media, digital connectivity and the demands of a more personalized engagement. Amid the growing diversity, there was difficulty in keeping the attention of the alumni while the Board itself grapples with changes every year where half of the Directors are changed. Directors often and understandably felt a certain sense of discontinuity every year. Hence, the ambitious and protracted reform process needed to encompass multiple objectives, to wit:
1) To increase representation of the increasingly diverse AIM alumni community
2) To increase the base of alumni that are involved and engaged
3) To add value to being an AIM alumnus and being an active part of the community
4) To ensure fair representation while diminishing politics from the Election of Directors
5) To adopt the latest governance mechanisms and best practices in engagement
6) To conform to the New Corporation Code in accordance with law.
The Amendments and Changes
The process has extended over five Association Chairmen to current Chair Michael Sherwin Macatangay, EMBA 2006 and his current Board of Trustees (formerly called Directors) to bring the process to full fruition. And so it has come to pass resulting in substantive organizational changes. According to the AAAIM Report shared by Chair Macatangay, the highlights of the changes is the “25-man AAAIM Officers and Board of Trustees which are duly represented, selected, and elected based on a per decade, per batch, and per degree process on a rotational basis. All other amendments are improvements to some provisions in our AAAIM By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation all of which make our AAAIM more relevant, purposeful, timely, engaging, and with well-established controls and checks and balances."
The pandemic accelerated the Association path to the digital space and social media. In his report, Chair Mike said: “I’m very happy and proud to announce that we recently launched our first and newly created official Alumni Association of the AIM, Inc. (AAAIM) website --www.aimalumni.org.
“After months of hard work and dedication, we created a website that is faster, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly. As inspiring and transformational leaders, it is important for us to make information regarding our thought leadership, services, and trends easily accessible to our AIM community.”
Moreover in his report, Chair Mike presaged this online platform, LEAD: “I am happy and excited to announce that AAAIM will be bringing back our AIM Alumni Magazine under a new and exciting format and platform. As we know, the formal publishing and circulation of our AIM Alumni Leader Magazine was discontinued by the school more than five years ago. During our past AAAIM General Membership Meetings, many alumni are requesting for our magazine to be restored as they see a great value in it. Although there is a great challenge financially, logistically, and operationally, your AAAIM will find ways and means to bring it back bigger, better, and bolder to our beloved AIM alumni community. Hopefully with God’s grace and support from our esteemed fellow AIM alumni benefactors, we will be publishing our maiden issue by the 2nd quarter of this year!”
(For a complete reading of the AAAIM Chairman’s Report during the last AIM Alumni Online Homecoming Event, click here).
Batches and the Stickiness Factor
Perhaps the most strategic change has to do with the institutionalization in the By-Laws of the degree program batches as equitable source of Trustees through a rotational framework. Batch mates, being lifelong friends, will bring about the “stickiness factor” needed for continuity in associations. Where before, the dominant MBM/MBA alumni held sway over elections typically held during the Homecoming event which these alumni tended to historically dominate, the field has been completely levelled. Decade alumni categories are given three Trustees (per decade). Hence, diversity and continuity in terms of experience and youth is achieved where the 70’s alumni will serve with the 80’s, 90’s, as well as alumni from 2000’s and 2010’s and up. In addition, all degree programs will be assured of equitable participation thus enabling a richness of perspectives and persuasions. Batches that have achieved 50 years since graduation will be already exempted from Board work but will continue to be represented through a special “seniors” category of Trustees. By using batches as talent source on rotation favoring batches celebrating their Homecoming anniversaries (5th year, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th 45th and 50th) that year, politicking is minimized if not eliminated as all batches and decades will have turns at serving at the Board of Trustees. To date, about a third of degree program batches have been activated with the campaign temporarily set back by the pandemic.
Challenges Moving Forward
The immediate, incoming 2022-2023 Chair Conrado “JunJun” Dayrit, MBM1977 seeks to stabilize AAAIM finances particularly since AIM stopped the collection of alumni membership fees. The challenge is assuring that AAAIM will get revenue inflows using, among others, the AIM Alumni Online magazine for advertising and similar revenues. The AAAIM will continue campaigning for one-time payment of Alumni fees but on a voluntary basis, even on installment with those paying fees getting more benefits to differentiate those who will not be paying such fees.
Another priority is the mending of fences with the AIM Board of Trustees, referring to the impasse and discord on the matter of AIM Alumni representation within the AIM Board of Trustees. As had been the practice for some 15 years already and as worded in the AIM By-Laws, the AAAIM and FAIM Chairmen represent the alumni in the AIM Board.
For the longer term, the concern is further enlivening alumni engagement. Echoing the value of batches and the stickiness factor, incoming Chair “JunJun” Dayrit precisely addresses this appeal to all alumni: “The key is strengthening your own batch and class gatherings. This is the primary alumni connection to the school. Class camaraderie will be the key to strengthening connections with the Association and ultimately with the Institute itself.”
In this regard, Chair JunJun is eager to restart face-to-face batch assemblies and other events in order to foster relationship-building and networking. At the same time, the AAAIM will bolster the use of its digital assets such as the website and the online magazine as essential tools for alumni engagement. With these plans, Chair JunJun moves confidently towards achieving the vision of the association, which is “To be the leading Alumni Association of graduate management schools in the Region, supportive of the Institute, the Alumni, and the Community.”
With the strength and support of the AIM Alumni Community worldwide, the AAAIM moves forward beyond its 40 years, to continue to build a harmonious AIM Community through responsive leadership and integration with all stakeholders.