A graduate of Speech Pathology at the University of the Philippines in Manila, I actually planned to pursue a career in medicine. My profession, however, of helping both adults and children who had speech and communication disorders, somewhat meddled with my plans and I soon began enjoying my work. This led me to having second thoughts about getting a medical degree.
For two years, I practiced at Capitol Medical Center which catered mostly to geriatric cases. I eventually shifted to serving pediatric patients in a clinic where I spent ten years as chief speech-language pathologist. Being in the profession, I was given the opportunity to help diagnose and manage speech and communication conditions of children with special needs such as autism, Down’s syndrome, ADHD, among others. The approach used is like that of a teacher and a student since we were basically addressing or trying to correct learned behaviors.
When my grandfather who owned Rex Bookstore encouraged me to give our family business a try, there were hesitations, of course, since I loved what I was doing. But he was persistent, and so, I decided to juggle my work with helping our bookstore. I thought it was not that difficult to connect to helping in education since I was also technically teaching but in a different form and way.
I thought wrong.
From Speech Therapist to Marketing Director
Aside from juggling my work as a speech therapist and my work with Rex Bookstore, I took up a marketing course in Ateneo Center so that I may also feel confident when I formally joined Rex. First two months, I was still employed as a speech therapist, finishing endorsements before I finally said goodbye to my profession. I was a therapist by day and a student by late afternoon to evening.
When the two months finally ended and I began to formally work at Rex Bookstore, I began to breathe easily since I was now more focused on paying attention to the corporate world. But the transition from that of a medical profession to one that is not was very tough, competitive and fast. I had to learn to cope really fast and I was glad I did. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone. Part of me was thankful that I was a very resilient person to begin with since at such a young age, I was already trained to be this way.
Now as marketing director, I am responsible for taking care of the brand image of Rex. Imagine the history and the legacy that my grandparents and the second generation had built. That in itself is a tall order. And in order to do so, I have to make sure that we live up to that brand image by catering to the needs of our customers. Driven by our aspirations on the whole child and guided by our mission, ’tayong lahat, kapit-bisig, para sa bata, para sa bayan’, we see to it that we respond to the learners’ needs in terms of our products and services and our role in marketing is to understand and keep understanding our customers so that we will be able to respond to those needs.
We also have to make sure we communicate what the brand is all about. In doing so, on, we have set goals in terms of market share targets and revenues, to make us realize that we have truly responded well to our customers. How many are we reaching? How well do we reach them? How effective are our programs?
Of course we also faced different challenges. The ever changing landscape of Philippine Education is also an important factor to consider. The shift in curriculum in basic education to K to 12, adding two more years in school was a big deal for educators and schools when it rolled out. It revamped the entire curriculum and several adjustments went with it and we publishers who support schools had to be at the forefront, making sure we assist them in their needs and help them succeed. As we speak, there are still ongoing changes in educational policies and continuous adjustments in the K to 12 program that face our educational system today.
At the Forefront of Continuing Education
In my line of work, I find fulfilment when I hear clients verbalize how our learning solutions and services have helped their students and learners achieve success. That means we have fulfilled our mission in this education. I also enjoy interacting with all kinds of educators in the country -from the key decision makers like the administrators and owners to the middle management and teachers. I love hearing their different stories and how they work hard to give nothing but the best for their students. Best of all, it is all about witnessing the children in school when we do benchmarking here and abroad. At the end of the day, it is the effect that we have on the children that matters.
As Filipinos, we should really put high regard to education. Like what our forefathers always say, you can take away everything from someone, but never his education. And as Filipinos, we know this is so true. No matter how poor a family is, the parents will do everything they can to put their children to school. This is the reason why we have a big responsibility being in education to make sure that we do our share in achieving quality education. At the end of the day, we want our children to be great citizens contributing to nation-building, making this nation great someday.
As Marketing Director of Rex Bookstore, Jeanne Tordesillas has become successful in the industry of book publishing. Here she shares her secrets.
Know your purpose. Always be guided by your ‘why’. In anything that you do in business, what will sustain you is the compelling reason why you exist and everything you develop will make sense because you know what you are doing it for.
Make a difference. At the end of the day, it is always about the difference you make on the learner. That is your measure of success.
Be authentic. Authenticity is the key to sustainability. “We are in the business of imparting ’truth’ to children who will later on be the future of this nation,” says Tordesillas.