“YOU are on your way to a new adventure that only you can design for yourself -- so make it unique, make it count (and) real!”

This was the message of lawyer Jocelle Batapa-Sigue before 1,319 graduates of the University of St. La Salle Bacolod Batch 2022 during their 65th Commencement exercises Sunday, May 29.

Batapa-Sigue, who is the guest speaker, said that their achievement today is their parents' dream, and their alma matter for them.

“Twenty-five years ago, I did not know how or what to feel (and) it was a mixture of happiness, relief, and excitement. I felt relieved because I knew there were no classes the next day,” she narrated about her own graduation.

Batapa-Sigue added that she felt excited because she was going to tackle the final examinations of her life at that point – the 1997 Bar examinations.

During that year, the passing rate turned out to be only 16 percent, which was among the lowest in the history of the legal profession, the lawyer recalled.

“Months from now, you will also face your final tests (and) for those who will take their board examinations or their government or professional licensures or for those who will start their careers, your enterprise, or apply for a job, I know you are all excited for this new chapter of your lives,” she said.

She shared a 2021 McKinsey research called “Defining the skills citizens will need in the future of work,” which she bookmarks on her laptop as her go-to resource material for her regular lectures.

The research, which involved over 18,000 people from different countries -- identified 56 foundational skills called Deltas -- short for distinct elements of talent. Deltas are a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude that will help citizens thrive and succeed in the future of work.

“You cannot learn these skills overnight, not even within the time you spent in college (as) it will take time to develop, and you need to apply them and hone them,” Batapa-Sigue stressed.

She added that the 56 skills are divided into four categories -- cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, self-leadership, and digital skills.

Cognitive skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, logical reasoning, understanding biases, and seeking relevant information, which is why one needs to have planning skills, time management, prioritization, agile thinking, and learning ability.

“You need communication skills, and among the powerful forms are storytelling, public speaking, asking the right questions, synthesizing messages, and active listening,” the lawyer emphasized.

She said it would help them have mental flexibility, creativity, and imagination, translated knowledge to different contexts, and adapted different perspectives.

Interpersonal or people skills involve the ability to secure win-win negotiations, craft and inspire visions and organizational awareness, develop relationships, and empathy, inspire trust, humility, sociability, teamwork, foster inclusiveness, motivate different personalities, resolve conflicts, and collaborate.

McKinsey 2022 collaboration challenge states that “collaboration is no longer just a buzzword. It is a personal and professional skill. Self-leadership means self-awareness and self-management, understanding your emotional triggers and self-control, understanding your strengths, and showing integrity, self-motivation, and self-confidence.”

The fourth skill is a digital skill but in the interest of time, she invited the graduates instead to visit her site -- jocellebatapasigue.com -where they will find her full speech including all the readings she cited.

“It is essential to adopt a mindset of life-long learning – the very essence of education - the ability to learn, and the capacity to re-learn, to re-skill, to upskill at every chance you get, and the ability to unlearn,” Batapa-Sigue also told the graduates.

She said that by continuing to learn, we generate more public value. We give more meaning to the learning process.

“We live in a hyper-connected and fast-paced world today; therefore, use your education strategically - as a strong foundation, as a starting point and as you receive your diplomas today, think about the future and ways to give back,” she also said.

Meanwhile, Batapa-Sigue noted that her beginnings as a lawyer allowed her to give back -- to fulfill her promise to the Lord, to seek justice for His children and she helped in the rescue of more than forty human trafficking victims.

“Together with my husband, Atty. Arnel Sigue, who is here with me today –– we handle cases of rape, abuse, and exploitation of women and children,” she said.

Every day is an opportunity to give back because the Lord has granted our dream of becoming lawyers, the former Bacolod City Councilor emphasized.

“My dream in 2004 was to help generate thousands of jobs for our city with the help of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology and now see thousands of digital jobs and Bacolod City as one of the Philippine’s center of excellence in ICT is a fulfillment of that dream,” she said.

She said that she continues to help different cities build their innovation ecosystems to generate more jobs, investments, and opportunities for their citizens.

“I continue to help improve public service and government systems in various capacities –- as a policy innovation consultant, a digital governance advocate, a mentor, and a leader,” she assures.

She noted also that being a leader is also about giving back and that leadership is not about having people follow you, rather, it's about inspiring people to explore, understand, consider, and apply your ideas, insights from your own experience, and solutions you have tested and iterated -- so they can also succeed.

Leadership is not about putting the leader on a pedestal. It is about looking at the different frameworks the leader had scaled and made to work (or learning from what did not work) -- or learning from the leaders’ lessons -- so it gives you hope, gives you a chance, gives you a voice.

Leadership is not walking in front of everyone you lead. It is about guiding everyone you show front, back, and center. It is not always hugging the limelight on the front but working with everyone else in the backend.

Leadership is not about the applause, the wild chanting of the crowd of your name. It's the daily round of "thank yous" and "God bless yous" that you get from strangers around you who benefit from your knowledge, your example, and your leadership.

“Leadership is not a position. It is a calling—a journey,” she pointed out, adding that she has achieved all accolades because of the people who believed in me, who helped her grow, and who helped me lead.

For her, all our achievements in life will be worthless without a community to share them with and all our accomplishments will be useless without helping others accomplish their dreams.

“All our awards will mean nothing when we have not given hope, even just to a single human being,” she reminded the graduates.