I am a Catholic and I am a businessman! So spoke Mr Ramon del Rosario Jr. in the plenary speech he gave on February 27, 2015 during the 9th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Business Education, which is co-organized by De La Salle University, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, and Ateneo de Manila University.
As a Catholic and a businessman, del Rosario claims to be struggling with living his faith in a challenging world. As a businessperson contributing to the scholarly discussion on CST, he reminds every one of the importance of knowing the “how” to knowing the “what”. The “what” can be learnt in a few hours of reading or by education but more important to the what, del Rosario says, is the “how”. How do we live a good life? How do we make the right business decisions? While theories and theology is good, the challenge is for the academic institutions to prepare students; in how they act and what they do, and to produce graduates who are prepared to question the status quo, stand on principle and transform the community. Graduate who are ready to fight the good fight; one who knows how to pay taxes correctly, not bribe, speaks against corruption, create jobs and pay living wages, provide quality goods and services, do not steal nor cheat, and most importantly, men and women oriented towards the alleviation of poverty and be good business people.
Still, how do we develop the human resources companies need? Del Rosario suggested three things. First, make the values and competencies we eventually expect of a Catholic businessperson core to their learning. They must be taught throughout their education and not be merely peripherals. Second, education institutions and employers should step into each other’s’ worlds. It is a world where employers help educational institutions design their curricula, offer cases and background material, provide faculty to teach or trains university faculty not on finance, manufacture or marketing but on Catholic business practice and decision-making. Also, it is a world where the relationship between schools and companies begins early and continues intensively; where students actually witness and experience practices in action. They need to be exposed to Catholic companies and business leaders – through internships or mentorship programs — for the most useful mode of instruction is hands-on learning. As cases and research bring the workplace into the classroom, for hands-on learning, we must bring the classroom to the workplace. Finally, collaboration between educational institutions and businesses must extend beyond the schooling period. Educational institutions must be the first models for their graduates. At the same time, the educational institutions and business should work together to build communities of support for young business people to help and guide them with their choices and decisions, to share best practices, and to offer mentoring.