TELUS International University peaks with more students and success stories

Barry Viloria

Posted at Dec 21 2016 07:06 PM

In photo (L-R): TELUS International Philippines’ TIU team headed by Sam Santos (third from left). Right photo shows Ellaine Zapanta, a TIU student who is part of the pioneer batch.

MANILA, Philippines -- TELUS International Philippines (TIP) recently announced a significant growth in its young but trailblazing in-house education program, TELUS International University (TIU).

From 89 students in 2011, TIU just marked its 805th enrollee for 2016. Yet, the leading BPO company has more plans of reinforcing its academics program, said TIP Senior Manager for Global Learning Strategic Programs, Sam Santos.

“TIU started as a project under our Human Resources department. Since then, we moved to Learning and Development and to Global Learning Excellence, with the intent to align all learning initiatives under one global learning organization. Over the years, we have improved enrollment rates, the highest rate is that of this year,” said Santos, who has since headed a team tasked to leverage organizational performance at TIP by implementing learning and development programs for its team members. One of these programs is TIU.

The TIU ‘difference’

TIU has a relatively different setup from other BPO-owned educational programs. In fact, it is founded on partnerships with universities and learning institutions like the University of the Asia and the Pacific and Asia Pacific College, which then offer and conduct various courses and classes for enrolled TIP members.

“First, we partner with schools and universities where our team members could have the opportunity to finish their college degree or even take a double degree. Secondly, we partner with other learning institutions that deal with courses that would help you fulfill your life’s passion — from culinary arts to music to fashion design,” Santos said, adding that TIU is fast looking to expand in terms of partnering with more schools and offering more courses.

TIU’s unique setup involves professors holding onsite classes at TIP on a block schedule basis. This offers convenience for students who find difficulty traveling to and from school. TIU also has site-to-site or school-to-site shuttles for the students.

There are courses that also entail students attending on-campus classes. These allow the student to maximize the partner school’s physical properties like its equipment and facilities.

But more than linking the team members to prestigious partner schools, TIU offers subsidy, discounted rates, and staggered payment schemes to interested team members plus that of the same percentage for their respective family members and friends. The TIU rates are lower compared to the program rates when the courses are taken externally.

Growth in TIU

Santos especially prides TIU as a program aimed to support team members not only financially but cognitively and socially as well. For example, TIU holds no control over a student’s choice of course, offering him the freedom and opportunity to enrich himself as he moves up in his career and in life.

“It isn’t necessarily related to your current role and we don’t have a training bond. TIP wants to back our team members by supporting what they’re passionate about,” she said.

Ellaine Zapanta, a TIP team member for nine years and counting, is one of the many with inspiring stories about TIU. Zapanta started as technical support representative at TIP, and then got promoted to operations supervisor two years later. Two years ago, she moved to the Global Learning Excellence department, which is now supporting TIU.

When Zapanta came to work at TIP, she had just stopped tertiary school because of financial problems. She then decided to go back to school through TIU, becoming a part of the pioneer batch in 2011. She took up AB Humanities at UA&P and, at 28, is expected to graduate this December.

Despite the challenges of being a working student, Zapante got through, thanks to her determination.

“Definitely, the hardest part of being a working student was time management. I needed to perform both at school and at work, and it wasn’t easy. While I needed to motivate and support the team members who reported to me, I also worked on accomplishing my deliverables at school. These are all in one day, every day. But if you really have the right motivation to be the force through it, you'll do it,” she shared.

“My family. My mom—I wanted her to see me graduate and get that diploma,” she pointed out as motivation. “Now, I'm planning to get an MBA to further my career hopefully via TIU as well.”

Growth in TIP

Santos stressed that, ultimately, TIU, being a very affordable and convenient academic program, goes back to the core of TIP—the team members. The company, after all, sets itself apart from other BPOs with its unparalleled care for its employees by fostering a fun, friendly, open-minded, and nurturing environment.

Aside from the subsidy and liberty in course selection at TIU, TIP, for example, also assists team members in their educational needs through career counseling.

It also conducts and supports other activities and events that might interest team members. In recent years, for example, TIP supported its pro-LGBT group, Spectrum, at the annual Metro Manila Pride March.

“We really make sure that everything that we do is rooted in our company values, strong value that we advocate for is passion for growth,” Santos said.

“The stories that we hear about TIU students being successful or their family members completing the courses—for example, some TIU students who took up culinary arts or baking have just started online cupcake shops and other food businesses, or some IT students who used to be with operations are now in our ITO department that may offer more compensation. So, these stories really helped to enrich us and push us further to do what we do because we know we’re making a difference.”

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