September 5, 2017
One of the youngest executives in the meeting boardrooms of the government's Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) is Francis Delos Reyes.
At 23, Delos Reyes with a civil engineering degree tucked under his sleeves began working at DBP. Seven years later, he was included in the Management Associates Program of DBP sometime in 2004. "I realized I'm more inclined towards finance and economics. But at that time, working and studying was impossible because my house is too far from the office and the consequence is too great that either my studies or work could suffer," shared Delos Reyes.
The path was not too clear for him back then about pursuing graduate school, until luck and fate intervened.
In 2011, he was accepted as part of the 20 young Filipinos working in government to study in a Japanese university under the Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
"If not for the scholarship, I cannot afford to study in Japan and without the degree, I will not be able to understand the principles needed for my work in DBP's Treasury and Investment Banking Capital Markets," added Delos Reyes.
Through the scholarship, Delos Reyes finished his master's in economics from the International University of Japan (IUJ) at Niigata Prefecture. Niigata is one of Japan's coastal capitals.
One of the significant memories he had studying in Japan was their class visit in the Kyushu Recycle and Environmental Industry Plaza (K-RIP) in Fukuoka Prefecture. The facility, a public-private partnership initiative, was conceptualized to address pollution in the 1960s arising from Japan's robust industrialization. "Japan's cleanliness and innovation could be a good model for the Philippines," he said.
"Beyond finishing the degree, what I appreciated most is learning more about Japanese people and their culture and how they live their lives with honor and patriotism."
During his last year in the university, Delos Reyes became the president of the university's Graduate Students Organization (GSO) representing some 400 graduate students. Through the group, students are able to develop social and professional network across the university's colleges.
JICA is the implementing agency of Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) where JDS is part of and scholars like Delos Reyes, according to JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito, are the "best ambassadors of the longstanding and genuine friendship between Japan and the Philippines."
Through the scholarship, Delos Reyes added, he developed the confidence and leadership to lead DBP's Project Management Office (PMO) providing leadership and direction to the agency's development projects.
Under his helm, the PMO is handling the bank's biggest IT project in history, an Integrated Core Banking System (ICBS). Said IT platform will connect all levels of DBP operations into a seamless system to improve the bank's risk management, customer satisfaction, and product/service development activities. "There are more than 100 members of the project team who will implement this for DBP and we aim to complete the system by 2019."
This year, JICA opens up the scholarship program once again to Filipino young professionals like Delos Reyes. Soon, there may be more Filipino government professionals adding more value into the country's human resources capital.
"The Japanese scholarship is not just about career advancement. It's also about developing the values we need to contribute to Philippine development," Delos Reyes said.
Francis Delos Reyes (middle) with fellow International University of Japan scholars
JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito (right) meets Francis Delos Reyes for the first time during the recent signing of the Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) to help build the skills and capacity of Filipino professionals in government