The challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic transformed into a training ground for the nation’s next generation of industry leaders when members of 15 student organizations from the Philippines’ top universities completed Pilipinas Shell’s Shell Young Leaders Program (SYLP) last July 27.
Beginning its pilot run in September of last year, SYLP is an intensive 8-month program that aims to strengthen leadership skills at the university level to produce well-rounded and future-ready Filipinos once they begin pursuing their respective career paths.
“Quite often, our country’s graduates are strong intellectually and academically. I would even use the term world-class,” said Pilipinas Shell President and CEO Cesar Romero. “But one area where they are less exposed is leadership and extracurricular activities.”
“The main intent of the program is to encourage students and academic institutions to provide adequate focus on leadership, on extracurricular activities, and out-of-classroom learning experiences in order to help shape and develop graduates that are more competitive in the workforce.”
Under the tutelage of some of Shell’s senior leaders, students went through capability building workshops and mentorship sessions covering a wide range of organizational skills such as branding, internal relations, strategic planning, communications, sustainability, and nation-building.
Throughout the program, participating organizations had applied their newly gained skills both internally and through various community projects, such as donation drives for the benefit of communities impacted by COVID-19.
“Our generation fears failure, we dread the fact that we’re going to fail an exam or that we won’t be successful,” said Mika Dacanai from the University of Santo Tomas’s Thomasian Junior Association for People Management (UST-TJAPM). “Upon hearing that the lecturers, our mentors, the panelists, and the Shell ambassadors that they do not fear failure, it definitely struck us because these people embrace failure and they love learning from it.”
Four out of the 15 organizations were awarded for their exemplary application of the capacities learned during the program. The University of the Philippines’ UP Circuit won first place, followed by UP Industrial Engineering Club. UP Aggregates Incorporated was awarded third place. Winning organizations were given cash prizes that will be used to strengthen their organization’s programs.
“The past eight months have been a great journey for us. SYLP has empowered us to develop leadership and operations, explore new methods and strategies in dealing with new challenges, and expand our network,” said Terence Arcalas from UP Aggregates Inc. “As Shell says, every drop counts, and with that, we’ll make sure we use each learning from the capability building and mentorship sessions to help more people in the coming months.”
A communications award was also awarded to De La Salle University’s Industrial Management Engineering Society (DLSU-IMES) for their excellence in executing social media communication campaigns.
Other student organizations that participated include the University of the Philippines’ Chemical Engineering Society, Engineering without Borders, the UP Career Assistance Program for Engineering Students, and UP Gears and Pinions. UST’s Operations Research Society of the Philippines also participated, along with DLSU’s Economics Organization.
In partnership with the Philippine Business for Education (PBED) group, SYLP was created with the vision of powering future-ready professionals who can contribute towards nation-building. Despite the two-month enhanced quarantine in Metro Manila occurring midway through the program, SYLP pivoted to innovative virtual sessions so that students could continue their training without disruption.
“Rather than let the pandemic interrupt their training, we wanted the students to learn that with enough creativity and innovative thinking, they can overcome these kinds of external challenges,” said Romero. “At Shell, we are committed to encouraging the youth to become nation-builders as they play a significant role in shaping the Philippines’ future.”