CMU-A Educating Filipino Digital Transformation Leaders and Influencers

Posted 9th May 2019

In a first for Carnegie Mellon University, and South Australia, 15 Filipino Nationals are in Adelaide undertaking an Australia Awards sponsored Short Course in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (BIDA).

The Short Course in BIDA, conducted over 6 months, has been developed specifically to meet a skills gap in the Philippines public sector.

In late 2018, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) conducted an Organizational Training Needs Analysis for the Government of the Philippines identifying competency gaps specifically in Information Management and Data Analytics.

Following a competitive tender process, Carnegie Mellon University in Australia was awarded the contract to run the Short Course in BIDA. CMU is ranked #1 in the world for analytics and information and technology management education.

This is believed to be the first Australia Awards Short Course in BIDA to be conducted at an Australian University. The participants spend 3 months studying fulltime at Carnegie Mellon University’s Adelaide campus and then return to the Philippines to complete the second half of the course part-time while returning to their workplace.

Eleven of the 15 participants are middle or senior management employees in Philippines Government departments. The remaining four participants are educators from the Asia Pacific College who will support the teaching program when the government employees return to the Philippines.

Welcome lunch with Barry Patterson, Deputy Director of the South Australian office of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A critical component of the course is a Data Analytics Capstone Project which must be undertaken by each participant under the supervision of CMU-A teaching Professor Murli Viswanathan.

The Capstone Project, which is the foundation for each participant’s re-entry action plan, provides them with an opportunity to design and develop a comprehensive analytics solution to be implemented within their respective agencies in the Philippines.

“Working with cutting edge analytics tools on real-world projects specific to the needs of their agency will result in participants being able to make a real difference when they return home, said Professor Viswanathan.

Professor Murli supervising students during a short course BIDA lecture.

“In addition, participants will be empowered with new skills and knowledge to assess the analytics maturity of their respective agencies,” he said.

The Short Course in BIDA was set up at the initiative of DFAT as part of the Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program.

The eleven Philippines Government participants are on scholarships (fees, travel and accommodation) provided by the Australia Awards. The four Asia Pacific College participants are on CMU-A scholarships.

The participating agencies are the Department of Budget and Management; Civil Service Commission; Department of Interior and Local Government; National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry.

The syllabus includes courses in Database Management; Statistics for IT Managers; Decision Making Under Uncertainty; Business Intelligence and Analytics; Data Mining; Data Warehousing: Exploring and Visualizing Data; NoSQL Database; Public Policy Analytics and Data Analytics Capstone Project.

The course is at the Graduate Diploma level in Information Technology and Data Analytics with subjects drawn from CMU-A’s Master of Science in Information Technology degree.

The Australian campus of Carnegie Mellon University was established in Adelaide in 2006 as the first international university in Australia. To date, nearly 800 international and local students have undertaken Masters degrees in information technology, information systems management and public policy and management.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway welcomed the 15 delegates to South Australia and congratulated CMU-A for being exclusively selected as the institution to run this program.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway welcoming the 15 delegates at Carnegie Mellon University.

“International education plays a critical role in South Australia’s economy; it helps attract students, new industries, and investors, and it provides opportunities for teaching and research, and knowledge sharing through delegations such as this,” Mr Ridgway said.

“The fact that DFAT together with the Philippines government elected to send this cohort of influential delegates to Adelaide speaks highly of the world-class education and learning environment that can be found in South Australia.”

“I am confident that our Filipino guests will have a positive message to take home about their time at CMU-A, studying and living in Adelaide.”

Short Course in BIDA Participant backstories

Florante Igtiben is a Director in the Philippine’s National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) where he is responsible for managing the Information, Communication and Technology team who provide information technology support to all in NEDA.

With encouragement from management, Florante applied for the Australia Awards Short Course in BIDA and was one of two people from his agency selected to participate.

“I saw the course as one that would help me really hone and widen my knowledge in IT, especially the predictive analytics area,” said Florante.

“In my department, as across the whole of the public sector, there is a growing demand and need to automate administrative and financial transactions.

“I want to be a key influencer and implementer of digital transformation in the Philippines and the Short Course in BIDA will definitely equip me with the skills to achieve this.”

Florante’s Data Analytics Capstone Project, which will be the foundation for his re-entry action plan, will look to develop a Proof-of-Concept for the introduction of data analytics in NEDA’s investment programing specifically for government investment in public infrastructure.

He will specifically look at the formulation and development process for investment programming as well as the approval and implementation component.

His aim is to design a predictive analytics model to look at ways to improve the monitoring and evaluation process of public projects. This will be a first for NEDA.

Agnes Perpetua Legaspi is the Assistant Director Department of Trade and Industry working in the Export Marketing Bureau.

The Department of Trade and Industry is the primary agency responsible for supporting exporters and growing export opportunities for Philippines businesses.

“Exports play a key role in the country’s economic development. It is a critical factor in the Gross Domestic Product and substantially contributes to foreign earnings as well as generating local employment through the Philippines,” explains Agnes.

“The Philippines is currently a net importer and our mission is to work towards the growth of exports to change this.

“The more we can support our exporters, the more we promote Philippine products and services to the global market, the more we can contribute positively to our economy and impact on the quality of life for Filipinos”, she said.

Agnes was motivated to enroll in the Australia Awards Short Course in BIDA by a desire to gain new knowledge on how data science can help to understand export markets and opportunities, analysis current programs and work on uncovering insights that will help clients as well as DTI management.

Agnes’ Data Analytics Capstone Project will focus doing an analytics maturity assessment in DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau and DTI Region 6. This will be a pilot study which the DTI Team hopes will be rolled out across the whole Department.

“DTI has a lot of data, but the question is, are processing it the right way? What insights can we draw to guide us? And are we maximizing our current business intelligence platform,” said Agnes.

“It’s also critical that we develop a predictive model to help us understand where Philippine exports are headed and which products and markets to focus on; and what other factors can help mitigate our trade deficit.

“Digital transformation using business intelligence, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence has a lot to offer. There are already tools out there, but not many of us are really using them.

“The Short Course in BIDA is certainly helping me develop the right skillset as well as gaining new knowledge, to see what’s possible and to use them in the right way to improve policy making and program development.

“I want to be at the forefront of using these technologies to make an impact. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to share my learnings with higher management in DTI and even other Departments.”

Other participants:

  • George Sotelo, Information Technology Officer, Department of Budget and Management
  • Ricardo II Eugenio, Computer Programmer, Department of Budget and Management
  • Mark Renier Bailon, Information Systems Analyst, Department of Budget and Management
  • Nikko Madrelijos, Officer-in-Charge, IS-PDPMD Department of the Interior and Local Government
  • Michelle Tabuzo, Operations Officer IV Department of the Interior and Local Government Local Government
  • Marvin Bravo, Trade and Industry Specialist Department of Trade and Industry
  • Bernard Layon, Information Technology Officer II National Economic and Development Authority
  • Ma. Jinky Jayme, Supervising Human Resource Specialist Civil Service Commission
  • Jayson Cu, Senior HR Specialist Civil Service Commission
  • Manuel Magbuhat, Director, BSBA Program Asia Pacific College
  • Annaliza Catacutan-Bangit, Associate Professor Asia Pacific College
  • Rhea-Luz Valbuena, Executive Director for School of Computing and IT Asia Pacific College
  • Sergio Peruda, Program Director Asia Pacific College