Answering the tough question: “What do you do for a living?”
It always happens during events, gatherings and reunions – being asked questions like, “What do you do for a living?” and “Where do you work?” and I always feel proud answering that I work for a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that promotes sustainable global trade. It is not my childhood dream nor my career choice upon entering college but fate has been so good in directing me into a career path that is both my expertise and passion.
It all starts here
My involvement with development work started a year before I finished my Management Accounting degree in college. I’d been selected as one of the students who would undergo training on feasibility study and project proposal preparation to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access financing to start or expand their own businesses under a program initiated by the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, MASICAP MSME Development Foundation Inc. This experience opened my eyes to the important role of SMEs in my country, the Philippines, and gave me a clearer view of how businesses create opportunities, increase wealth and improve the economic condition of a community. It gave me direction to the career path that will later on fuel my passion to continue working for countryside development.
And continues on
Fast forward seven years after I started working with SMEs in my MASICAP II stint, I found myself traveling around the Philippines as an export consultant (EC) working for the Hinrich Foundation. Being an export consultant is a tough job that requires dedication, knowledge and good networking skills. It is the consultant’s responsibility to research and write about the export and domestic situation of an industry and help promote supplier beneficiaries through various marketing platforms. It is more than just profiling companies and putting them up on an online platform. Rather, it is helping to create opportunities for trade to prosper. It is central to the consultant’s job to help connect suppliers and buyers to facilitate trade. As an EC, I have worked with suppliers from as far as Vigan City in the northern part of Luzon to Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. I have also traveled to major supply hubs in the country, including Albay, Bacolod, Baguio, Cebu, and Metro Manila.
An export consultant’s life or an EC life as I call it is not an easy life. I had my fair share of misadventures like getting lost during fieldwork, traveling under extreme weather conditions, and being unable to meet certain targets. Despite all these, there are a lot of reasons that make this job very rewarding. Among those are the lessons I learned from talking to supplier beneficiaries who are entrepreneurs, advocates and teachers; the success stories of suppliers getting orders through our marketing initiatives; the friendship and trust earned from spending time with our supplier beneficiaries; the family I gained from working with HF team members and the joy of working for a job that means more than the paycheck I receive.
And it’ll never end
Working with SMEs will always be in the core of my career path and I hope that as I progress, I can continue to contribute to the development of my country’s economic growth either through working in an NGO, in the government or being an entrepreneur myself. I hope that there will be more talented and young people who will have the passion for development work. I also hope that they get affiliated with organizations that are providing opportunities to help facilitate trade like the Hinrich Foundation. I personally believe that the next generation can do so much to effect change in their own ways and I hope that they will always be proud when asked the question, “What do you do for a living?”
Cherrilyn “Lycah” Baylon
Title: Export Consultant
Organization: Hinrich Foundation, Export Trade Assistance