Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Cedric Ian Carlo Petalcorin, Associate Professor, University of Mindanao, Davao City, Philippines
Mindanao, the second largest island group in the Philippines, has 25 million inhabitants, one quarter of the country total, with Davao City as its regional capital. Agriculture, fishing and mining are the traditional mainstays of its economy, while tourism, call centers and business process outsourcing are growing year on year.
The regional capital of Davao City is home to several universities, including the University of Mindanao, established in 1946, with nine campuses, 43,000 students, and a dozen colleges offering degree courses ranging from accounting, architecture and engineering, to criminal justice, healthcare, and arts and sciences.
Cedric Ian Carlo Petalcorin is an Associate Professor at the College of Accounting Education, which provides four-year Bachelor of Science programs both in accountancy and in accounting technology. The college annually has 2,600 undergraduates motivated towards accounting-focused careers. In the Philippines, each higher education organization is free to adopt its own accountancy technology practices. University of Mindanao uses NetSuite cloud-based financial management solutions, provided free by Oracle Academy.
Petalcorin, a Certified Public Accountant with an MBA, is one of the longest faculty members in the Philippines to use NetSuite in teaching.
Oracle Academy: What made you choose and stay with NetSuite as your primary way to teach hands-on accounting systems?
Cedric Petalcorin: NetSuite is completely compatible with our accountancy program and contains everything required for jobs in bookkeeping, auditing and running a company. In addition, the fact that it is cloud-based makes it more accessible than other accounting systems. There`s no need to install and implement it on-premise, like competing packages, and we all find the interface to be very user friendly. Naturally, the fact that Oracle Academy provides the accounts free of charge is a major advantage for a university like ours where we have to watch our costs. However, the other factor is that NetSuite is widely used in the Philippines and that opens up broader job opportunities.
Oracle Academy: How did you get involved with NetSuite?
Cedric Petalcorin: NetSuite was recommended to one of our colleagues, Mr. William Sucuahi, in 2012 by faculty from another institution. At that time, UM had no cloud-based technology for teaching accountancy, so in 2013, together with Mr. Sucuahi and Ms. De Gracia, another faculty member, we travelled to Manila to become trained by the NetSuite regional office. Soon afterwards, we entered an agreement to become a NetSuite partner institution, and since then have been using the system actively and continuously as part of our curriculum.
Oracle Academy: Are other faculty members trained in the technology?
Cedric Petalcorin: Two years later, in 2015, we returned to Manila for a bootcamp training and, on our return, we trained and coached more colleagues. Together, we teach NetSuite to 200 students per semester, in classes of 40.
We all keep up to speed on new releases through online seminars and internal sessions, where we play with changes to the interface and figure out how to transfer the knowledge to the students.
Oracle Academy: What timetable do students follow with the program?
Cedric Petalcorin: During our four-year undergrad program, all students use NetSuite as their primary accounting information system tool. Each has six hours a week of hands-on experience in our computer laboratory and continues to work at home on their PCs, connected to their NetSuite accounts via a browser.
Oracle Academy: What type of projects do they work on?
Cedric Petalcorin: We introduce them to the real world of accountancy. Using a set of instructions which they reproduce in NetSuite, students learn how companies set up their accounting systems, create books of accounts and journals, record transactions, monitor cash flow, and, at the end of the day, generate audited reports. The cycle takes about one month.
Oracle Academy: How is the job market for accountants in Mindanao?
Cedric Petalcorin: We have certain challenges. Although our graduates are well sought-after in Davao City, the available market cannot absorb all the knowledge and experience of our students. That’s because most industries using NetSuite are located in Manila and Cebu City.
However, the University of Mindanao has the goal of becoming a catalyst of positive change not only here in Davao City, but in the country as a whole, aiming to become a globally recognized university by 2022, and equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the 4th Industrial Revolution. This ties in with the government’s medium-range plans for regional economic development. Already we are witnessing more foreign and domestic investment in Mindanao, which should improve job opportunities.
Oracle Academy: With that in mind, do you have a roadmap for expanding the use of NetSuite?
Cedric Petalcorin: Right now, in the context of the Philippines’ current five-year transition program for higher education institutions, we are looking at how to more thoroughly incorporate Oracle Academy materials and NetSuite into our curriculum—because one of the visions is to produce graduates who are capable and equipped to work both here in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. All the instruction and design of programs in our institution is geared towards incorporating more technology into our teaching.
Oracle Academy: What other challenges do you face in executing that vision?
Cedric Petalcorin: Well, although the major competitive advantage of NetSuite is that you need only a compatible browser and an Internet connection, what hinders us still is a relatively slow broadband connection. The Philippines is an island country—over 7,000!—and our infrastructure is not as fast as in mainland countries. But that will change.
Oracle Academy: Do you have other duties outside of classwork?
Cedric Petalcorin: Yes. Aside from teaching, I’m also the internal auditor in our employee cooperative. In addition, since we are ISO certified, I’m part of the internal quality audit team whose goal is to ensure that the quality assurance thrust of the university is being consistently applied. Training methodologies are part of this quality drive. To give an example: two of our graduates recently achieved top-notch status in the nationwide CPA licensure exams, scoring in the top 10 in the country. For me, it underscores our commitment to the best training methodologies and demonstrates how our partnership with Oracle Academy through NetSuite has definitely helped us in producing quality and competent graduates.
Oracle Academy: Lastly, what do you see on the technology landscape that excites you?
Cedric Petalcorin: I’m very intrigued by those who say that Artificial Intelligence will eventually take over basic human functions. Frankly, I believe that humans can never be replaced and the challenge is for us to prove that we can be better than AI. But, I also realize since our society and the world is ever-developing and growing, we should not be afraid of Artificial Intelligence, but learn how to adapt to it in our lives.
Thank you Cedric Ian Carlos Petalcorin for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.