When placed under immense pressure, big minds expand even more and consider the world around them; small minds contract and see only the immediate, personal problem.
Niel Brian Aguas, Ganch to friends and colleagues, dealt with one of the greatest challenges a man could face even as he worked at completing his Master in Development Management at AIM. Ganch was about to become a father.
“It was difficult for me to be on and off campus as I was also taking care of my then pregnant wife,” Ganch said. And yet he pushed through with his decision to enroll that year.
At the time, he was a consultant at the Department of Health and specialized in Health Policy and Pharmacy. Ganch noticed the homogeneity of technical talents in different fields in the Department, “but a lot of programs and projects were mismanaged,” he recalled, and administrative functions were less than excellent.
He added that government agencies need a lot of good managers because “policies were being developed but poorly implemented, monitored, and evaluated.”
“And, personally, I needed a good program that could train me to be a better manager, which will complement my proficiency in policy and public health,” Ganch said.
And then another great thing happened. Ganch was accepted into the Master in Development Management Program as a Zuellig Scholar. He was able to maintain his grade, landing on the Dean's List during all three terms even as he cared for his wife. “The scholarship really helped in my day to day expenses. It equipped me financially for the whole year,” he said.
What follows are excerpts of our interview with Ganch Aguas, AIM alumnus, MDM 2016.
Who was your favorite professor and what did you like most about that mentor’s classes?
Ganch: Professor Nieves Confessor. Bridging Leadership and Strategic Negotiation are my favorite subjects because of her. All her classes are insightful and it really changed how I think about myself, others, and the society we live in. It made me respond differently to the VUCA world, made me always see the bigger picture, and how I can effect change. [VUCA is volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity ― Ed.]
What impact did the AIM MDM program have on your career?
The program taught me how to digest problems and how to create system-based solutions. Also, how to engage and mobilize stakeholders to achieve sustainable and fair solutions with the betterment of society at the forefront ― especially the marginalized and the grassroots.
What specific skill did you develop because of the program?
Four years ago, I made a statement on Facebook and Twitter that I wanted to become a health systems pharmacist. A healthcare professional who did not view the health sector from the myopic lens of a pharmacist, but one who could use other lenses from within and without the health sector. There are unique interrelations of public health, politics, economics, and other social determinants of health. AIM gave me that frame of mind, the attitude, and the competency to develop policies and manage programs.
What advice can you give future MDMs?
The MDM is a unique program in a very good school. Take time to understand each case, and make sure to participate in every discussion to maximize your key insights. The modules were developed to assist you after you graduate and face the real world. You will be equipped with tools, the mastery of theories, and recognition of real-life experience; and you will use everything you learn at AIM.
Prior to his work at the Department of Health, Ganch Aguas was a Healthcare Policy Manager at US-based MNC pharma company Merck, Sharp, and Dohme, a faculty member of FEU NRMF and UPHSD College of Pharmacy, and a Pharmacist Trainer at Generika Drugstore. He has since stepped into the role of Public Affairs and Health Systems Manager at Novartis.