When I was in my senior year at Ateneo High School, Management Engineering was marketed as the “flagship” program of the university’s School of Management. A number of my high school teachers even recommended the course. This was the biggest reason why I decided to choose ME. Though, admittedly, I was in no way the best in my class when it came to quantitative analysis, I liked working with numbers because of the sense of structure and organization that they provide. So, I thought it would be interesting to take up a numbers-intensive program of study.
“Humbling” is the one word that would characterize my ME experience. Coming from the honors class in Ateneo High School, I used to have the feeling that I was among the “intellectually-advantaged” ones. It was during my ME years when I realized that to make it through the program, I will be needing a lot of help from my ME batchmates—hardly anyone is intelligent enough to make it through ME alone. I don’t think I would have made it through Calculus, Operations Research, Accounting, and Finance without all those group study sessions, solving and comparing answers to questions from sample exams.
With my interest in numbers, I decided to enter finance for my career, starting as an intern doing risk management in a commercial bank. Since then, I have been in risk management working with financial institutions. After 11 years of working in Manila, I decided to explore living and working outside the Philippines. I wanted to experience something new, and Singapore was a natural choice given my Asia-centric finance experience. I also have several friends based in Singapore so I thought that would make adjusting much easier.
I moved to Singapore in 2018, and the past four years have been great. As most would be aware of, Singapore is known for its safety and organization. That has played a big part in developing my interest in long-distance running and now starting on cycling, both of which I prefer to do at night to avoid the hot Singapore sun (I am not a morning person!). I don’t think I would have explored those back in the Philippines given the conditions, at least in my hometown in Antipolo.
My medium-to-long term plan is still to continue living and working in Singapore, but I still consider the Philippines my home. I remain a proud Filipino and try to promote the Philippines whenever I have conversations with non-Filipino colleagues and friends. Hopefully that would encourage them to travel to the Philippines once we are able to do so freely again.
I recall one of my ME professors saying that after college, we may forget all the complex formulas and algorithms that we studied, but what would ultimately remain is the discipline and analytical way of thinking. I would attest to that. Fifteen years after graduating from ME, I am sure I have already forgotten how to integrate functions or use the simplex algorithm, but the discipline and analytical mindset have certainly been ingrained and remain to be the key takeaways from my four years in ME. So, for current ME students who have been asking themselves what the use of all those long hours is, studying for midterms and finals, remember that it is to develop a crucial life skill. Years after you graduate, you will think back on your ME years and thank your professors for that.
Christopher Ontoy (BSME 2006) currently works as Head of Risk in a sustainable finance organization in Singapore after spending most of his career with the Asian Development Bank in Manila.