Making the Most Out of a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity: with Vivien Betsy Fuentebella-Malsi

by Tram Panaligan

Vivien Betsy Fuentebella-Malsi, more commonly known as Betsy Fuentebella in SISFU, is a woman who made the most out of her once in a lifetime opportunity that truly changed her life. Currently she is an IT Manager for 3M in their Global Service Centre (Asia-Pacific Region). Prior to this, she has worked with Hewlett-Packard (HP)—an American multinational enterprise information technology company—and Bayan Trade—a local IT company.

As a SISFU alumna, she graduated from the country’s premier transnational university with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration major in International Marketing in 2006 under the international partner, American City University which is based in the United States of America.

Betsy, who moved from the province of Bicol to pursue higher education in Manila, has proven that at the age of 16 she did very best to press towards the goal and be able to soar to new heights through the global mindset that SISFU was able to instill in her brief albeit eventful stay.

She shared the things she loved and the challenges she faced as a student in SISFU. Her high points were a series of home runs: she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Student Publication, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and for her the highest point—that has brought the most impact into her life— is when she met her now husband and the father of her child, Alex Malsi—her co-scholar in the university.

As for her low points, the hardest thing that she experienced was that she had to be far away from her family who was her main support system. With long distance calls being more expensive, compared to the affordable rates of today brought by the power of the internet, they rarely were able to keep in touch during her stay. With this, her main drive was the fact that her parents—through the means of their hard earned money—sent her to Manila to study and she needed to make the most out of her education.

Staying with the theme of the challenges she faced, she discussed that she faced the regular struggles of an academic scholar. She focused a lot on her academics and extracurriculars and constantly tried to make the most out of it, for she knew was lucky to have been counted in for the opportunity. She is also grateful that she had ample resources and a healthy support group that was able to help her throughout her time in the university.

SISFU has indeed helped and contributed to her success today since she graduated under a full scholarship programme and was able to start working at the age of 18. The scholarship has greatly contributed to her success because it was a huge help financially and with the school having a compressed curriculum, she was able to finish her college education in two and a half years which she truly considers to be a plus for her career—for she can work ahead of her counterparts studying through the Philippine Curriculum who will only start working by the age of 20 or 21. In addition to this, by learning and collaborating with classmates and professors who came from different cultural backgrounds, SISFU has provided her with the awareness and sensitivity needed for effective communication as well as gaining a wider perspective and insight from real world business experiences from her professors who were executives and industry experts in their respective fields. Already being an employee for three companies, she was able to seamlessly adapt to each of the nuances of their respective corporate cultures and practices.

As we wrapped-up the interview, she ended with a few quips and tips to all the future graduates of SISFU and those who plan to pursue higher education there.

“Quoting Francis Kong, in his book entitled Leadership Matters, he said ‘load up before you leave’... like you’re going out for a vacation. You book your hotel reservations, pack your bags for the trip, and prepare your car. It's the same in any journey. After college, once you begin your journey in the corporate world or in business, you need to be ready; you need to prepare. There will be many complex situations you will find yourself in and your preparations will surely prove useful.”

“With this, I think it is essential for you to:”

1. “Build the right study habits (e.g., be diligent with your homework, participate in the group work) that will eventually translate into good work ethics and being a good teammate in the workplace.”

2. “Be as sponge; absorb all [that] you can. Most of the knowledge I gained from SFU [was] both from the books and professor’s lectures. Things such as SWOT Analysis, Pareto Principle, and Porter's 5 Forces of Competition [which] are still relevant and useful to me to this day.”

3. “Equip yourselves with knowledge, grow your network and develop the right attitude towards tasks while you're at SISFU. Load up before you leave, to make sure you are prepared for the long and exciting journey ahead.”

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