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Universal Robina Corporation

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Rica Mae A. Diwa

Getting high GPA is just a bonus. Focus on the learnings. Don’t stick to just knowing the concepts. Practical application like case studies would help a lot.

What's your job about?

I joined Universal Robina Corporation (URC) in August 2019 as a Finance Management Trainee (MT). It was actually the first time that the company is having an MT program specifically for its Finance Department. The program aims to equip the MTs with a holistic experience of the Finance function. In a span of 18 months, I had the opportunity to rotate in three (3) different teams as follows:

  • Category Finance: In this rotation, my task mainly involved consolidation of Total Jack ‘n Jill Financials which helped the Marketing Department, make business decisions and strategize for the remaining months of the current year.
  • Sales Finance: This rotation broadened my learning experience as it introduced me to evaluating the company’s financials in a per customer account view. My tasks here were highly focused on financial modelling and analysis which helped the Sales Teams come up with decisions ranging from customer’s sales discount negotiations and acquisition of new customer accounts.
  • Plant Controllership: My last stint as a Plant Accountant in one of our production plants in South Luzon was a totally different experience. I got to see firsthand the overall Plant Operations, from the actual goods production up to the inventory distribution. This gave me a clear picture of the Cost Flow, which is a huge component of the company’s financials.

With the guidance of my mentors, the 18-month program helped me improve not just in the technical aspect, but also in terms of soft skills and work attitude.

What's your background?

I grew up in a small town in Bataan. During my elementary days, I was actually an average student who used to stay within her comfort zone. Both of my parents were factory laborers and I have seen how hard it was for them to send me to school. With this in mind, I learned to value education. I finished elementary as one of the Top 10 graduating students. I spent the next four years in a private high school as a full scholar. This school motivated me to join extracurricular activities—from Leadership positions, School Paper posts and various competitions. Four years later on our graduation day, I delivered my valedictory speech sharing how unimaginable my high school life turned out.

For college, I wanted to go to UP Diliman but I didn’t make the cut. Instead, I got into the Management Economics degree program of UP Baguio. Moving to Baguio City on my own, without knowing anyone was a big leap. I met amazing people —block mates that turned into friends and very passionate professors. After a year, I tried my luck in getting into my dream course which is available only in UP Diliman. When the result was released, I wasn’t actually in the list. But there was just this unexplainable urge for me to confirm it with the college secretary. After a few days, I received a call that my application was missed, which they considered and I got in. I moved to Quezon City, where I spent the next four amazing years of my college life. My entire college journey was unexpected but I have no regrets. I gained lifetime friends and finished my degree with a distinction (Cum Laude).

Could someone with a different background do your job?

To survive the Management Training for Finance, I believe someone should have at least a degree in finance or any business-related course. For our batch, an Accounting degree and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License was required. The accounting knowledge is indeed a plus as the MT will be given an accounting role during the program. Debit and credit concept, journal entries and other accounting jargons might be too overwhelming. But everything that was required of me to accomplish the tasks and projects can actually be learned during the program itself. The key is to be adaptive and maximize the mentorship and resources.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about my job as an MT was the thrill and uncertainty for the most part. Yes, there is a general roadmap followed and you have a mentor with you throughout the journey. However, unexpected tasks and projects may come your way which could be terrifying but will always be worth it. In my case, I was entrusted with an automation project and building financial models used in various company decision-making that the team have not encountered yet. As the company values empowerment of its employees, you will be given the opportunity to present your work, sometimes even up to the members of the Management Committee.

What are the limitations of your job?

Finance, in general, is a very technical and broad function that 18 months might not feel enough to get a good grasp of its overall role in the organization. At first, there were times that I felt the pressure to get to every detail for things to make sense to me. However, I realized that sufficient time and data will not always be available to do so. I learned to always plan for the most efficient and effective approach to deliver and achieve the goal. Sometimes, this would mean letting go of the things that are not available or will not add much value.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Getting high GPA is just a bonus. Focus on the learnings. Don’t stick to just knowing the concepts. Practical application like case studies would help a lot.
  2. Develop healthy habits and routines that would stick even during the bad days. This will help you get through the most challenging days (sometimes weeks) of your career.
  3. Join school organizations, especially those that are aligned to your career goals. Being involved in extra-curricular works will help you become a team-player and be collaborative, which is very important in the real work set-up.