PEPY Team Reflections: Coming, Growing, Going
At PEPY, we believe all team members provide valuable insight to help us improve and grow as an organization. By giving them opportunities to reflect on their personal development as well as their departments, their ideas and feedback help us better understand what resources and plans we should put in place to provide the best services to our community. Our team members are all at different stages in the organization. Some of us are veterans who have worked at PEPY for over 5 years and are considering what they can give back to the organization as leaders. Other staff members are relatively new to the organization and are working on developing their skills to best fit their position and finding ways to help improve their projects. In addition, we have those who are preparing to move on to new opportunities who can look back on their time at PEPY and are outlining resources for the next generation.
For this blog post, we decided to feature 3 team members who are at each of these stages to share how they are feeling after two years of intense challenges, and what they would like to contribute to the organization going forward.
Meet Mara, a PEPY scholar who started working for PEPY in 2019. Although she graduated with a Degree in Accounting at Vanda Institute, she joined us wanting to give back to her community as a Dream Project Officer. In her role, she mentors high school students, coaches teachers, works on the curriculum, and assists in project design and development. So far, she shared that she was learned 3 key skills during her time at PEPY: teaching effectively, lesson planning, and reporting.
Before working at PEPY, her job at the tour company was just about earning an income but, with PEPY, everything seems new. She sees that her work impacts a community and has so much value. She shared, “the high points for me was completing the projects with recruiting teachers for the Dream project.” So far, Mara has already successfully helped engage 3 teacher partners to support Dream (one from Kralanh and two from Sen Sok). At the same time, joining during COVID-19 has given her some incredible lows that she did not anticipate.
Covid-19 affected her project significantly! She could not run classes as planned, and student registration dropped considerably since sessions could only be conducted online after the first few months. Conflicting schedule challenges with the schools also caused issues and impacted our ability to reach and work with youth. In addition, some students had to support their family with their farming work, so their parents encouraged them to stop learning online. Despite facing all of these challenges, she still had some positive moments of growth and learning with the students! She hopes now that classes are back in session in 2022, she will have many more highs than lows.
The most important lesson she learned in 2021 is to work on the relationship with students before Grade 12 to help them build their skills and preparation for scholarships earlier. She also learned to find more ways to compromise with school teachers, as many tasks may not be completed as timely as she would hope, and to be better prepared to support online teaching. We thank Mara so much for sharing her lessons learned and look forward to seeing her help develop and improve Dream in the years to come
Growing at PEPY: Manin, PEPY’s Operations and HR Manager
Manin joined PEPY in 2012 as a Communications Assistant and after a year, he began facilitating ICT lessons from 2013-2017. He then moved on to become the ICT coordinator, supporting ICT projects, communications, and media production. In 2020, he was promoted to be the Operations and HR Manager. During that same year, he also completed his Master’s Degree in General Management at the University of South East-Asia!
Manin has been reviewing and working on HR guidelines to support staff, managing staff recruitment/orientation, supporting staff capacity building, running evaluations, amongst many other admin tasks while still providing IT support. It has been quite a new experience for him to expand his tasks into general operations.
The biggest challenge for him in a new position both for himself and at PEPY is to create clear guidelines of what are the expectations and work processes of a person in his position. PEPY team is hoping for an implementation manual that he would like to put together for there to be a clear understanding of his work and to make sure it is done effectively. Another issue he faced recently is the many technology challenges that require lots of time to research.
Manin has learned that guidelines for roles are so key to help guide the team to understand the roles and expectations we have for one another. He has worked hard to have many systems of evaluation in place including staff performance as well as legal documentation. Up until now, we have had very limited resources and staff to help work on career development and performance documentation.
Manin’s goal is to expand his capacity to get better in his current position. If he has a chance to build his skills, he will take every opportunity. He will do what he can to support younger team members so that they understand his role and requirements by letting the team join in what he is doing and management times to orient them. Manin says, “The best practice is to provide training, assistance, and demos to team members to help them one day take on my role in the future.” Thank you, Manin for reminding us that we always have more opportunities to learn as team members and to give back!
Phalla joined PEPY in November 2020, to support PEPY’s new Youth Innovators’ Space and Incubator (YISI) during its pilot year. Phalla graduated in Business Administration and Accounting and had since gained 4 years of experience running her own hospitality business, so she knows how difficult this is to start a business without any concept or mindset.
As our Incubator Manager at YISI, her role focused on finalizing curriculums, training, plans for the program, working with the team, organizing youth activities, working with youth on business concepts. The position requires someone who has experience in business, an entrepreneurial mindset, communication skills, and is good at event logistics/organizing. When she joined PEPY she wanted to help youth gain confidence, help them develop a business mindset, and help mentor them to support their business ideation and development.
During the pilot year of the YISI, the pandemic impacted many of the team’s plans and forced them to hold sessions online. This also prevented youth from starting their businesses and led to the postponing of many activities. Although they tried their best, online learning is less effective, especially since some participants were not using laptops to complete assignments. It was very difficult for them to conduct for IT for Business class as a result and progress were slow going.
Phalla shared that she learned, “it is important when we start the program we should have a clear concept, objective, and goal of the program from the beginning. We do not have clear information, it is an unclear plan, and we did not prepare enough. It is better to get more connections and networks to support and collaborate, to get better ideas, and better not to copy the idea [but] to fill the gap. Anything is possible if we have good teamwork, communication, support, and built-up trust to the team so it will help the program will be more successful.”
As she prepares to move on from the organization, she feels she has accomplished everything she has set out to do at PEPY, but would like to see the activities continue to improve. Phalla plans to start a business and support the community with education and skills development for disadvantaged people. She will do this by providing vocational skills, product design, supporting local producers, and selling it to the international market. Phalla hopes for the YISI program to be managed well to help build more networks and continue to support youth business concepts. Thank you, Phalla, for all your hard work to ensure that the program will continue to run and support young people to improve their entrepreneurial skills for years to come.