The year 2022 brought many exciting news to the Southwestern University PHINMA community. On top of it was the appointment of a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) in the person of Cheryl Jane P. Chan. A native of Cagayan de Oro City, she first started as a Controller and was promoted to Assistant COO at PHINMA Cagayan de Oro College. In 2017, she moved to the PHINMA University of Pangasinan to fulfill the same position and ended up being elevated to COO. After five years, last August 1, 2022, she was placed at the helm of SWU, one of PHINMA’s leading academic institutions and its first school catering mostly to mid-income families.
Even on a hectic December afternoon, Ms. Che, as she is fondly called by colleagues, still accommodated this interview. Full of warmth and all smiles, she welcomed us on our way to her office. This air-conditioned room has, for sure, witnessed many things about overseeing the day-to-day school operations and even its future developments. The COO opened up about SWU, her position in the school, and the challenges and exciting aspects of her present assignment.
Can you tell us more about the tasks and responsibilities of your role at SWU?
The task of the COO is to oversee strategic and tactical operations of the University. This is to help out the president with the overall functions of the different units of SWU PHINMA. I look not only at the operation but also the strategy in growing and expanding the school’s market and looking into programs that we can offer to the Cebuanos and to the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao.
Which existing project of SWU PHINMA is your favorite to work on?
What excites me about SWU is knowing new programs, specifically the SWU Next programs. It’s positioning the school as more than just what we are known for like Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and other health programs. It’s also something different, programs like Fine Arts are not offered in our other PHINMA schools. The School of Medicine program also excites me because it’s pretty complex. So, I have to understand the ins and outs of it. But encapsulating everything is really the continuing work on improving our programs in terms of quality.
One thing that I learned from my bosses is the heart to serve. I think that is something they see in me. I keep my feet on the ground. I am passionate about serving students from Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao.
-Cheryl Jane P. Chan
SWU PHINMA Chief Operating Officer
How is your role in SWU compared to your past career experiences?
As a COO, I must be strategic and excited about the new programs. It is different from the traditional program. SWU is practice-focused, immersing students in the industry during the early years of their program. It ensures they are employable even when they get out of the system. That’s our direction—to provide our students with the right skill set even in their lower years. That’s one different thing from my previous career.
Is there a significant skill or experience you’ve learned or acquired from the previous positions that you’re looking forward to helping SWU grow or excel?
Because I’m a CPA, I’m into finance. But it’s only a parcel of operations. In SWU, you must strategize and expand the market here and outside of Cebu. There’s a big market that we can still tap. And we are aggressively tapping this market to improve students’ lives, especially those in under-served markets. Some aspiring students can’t afford pursuing a medical degree. But I think the scholarship grants we have right now make it very accessible in terms of pricing.
In your opinion, what made SWU PHINMA choose you for this role? And what made you choose to work with the school as well?
One thing that I learned from my bosses is the heart to serve. I think that is something they see in me. I keep my feet on the ground. I am passionate about serving students from Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao. I think that’s what they saw in me. Besides that, the advantage of being exposed to finance is also key in my current position.
What did you see in SWU PHINMA that convinced you to work with the school?
It’s the mission. We go out of our way to ensure that we keep our students in school and transform them into the best they can be by making their lives better. This is especially true since SWU is heavy on allied programs. Right now, healthcare professionals are vital, and that’s one way we can contribute to sustaining the need for excellent doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.
What sets SWU PHINMA apart from the rest of universities in Cebu?
As a practice-focused university, SWU PHINMA immerses students in the industry during their early years in the program. The school’s integration program enables students to experience what it is like to work on an actual set-up.
Second is the support that we give to our students. During the pandemic, we could pivot immediately; we shifted to modules because we understood who the students were. Not all of them have internet, so it’s not feasible for our students to have full online classes. That is why we shifted to modules and remote coaching. The support of the faculty during the pandemic is something that we’re proud of. It is very commendable and we value our faculty greatly.
What to look forward to from SWU PHINMA in the near future?
For the next year, we have expanded scholarship programs to look forward to. That is how generous the PHINMA Education is. About 40 to 50 percent of our student population are scholars. That’s one thing. Second, we also reimagine education. So, we keep on improving our learning system. Additionally, everyone should look forward to how we do things, like processes, hybrid-online and onsite.
Last December 2, 2022, SWU PHINA introduced its expanded SY 2023-2024 scholarship offerings for senior high school, college, and medicine. The move is aligned with PHINMA Education’s mission of building a nation where every Filipino family has the essentials to live a dignified life. Currently, it is the biggest network of schools in the entire country with 124,000+ students this school year. COO Chan hopes to make the scholarships a vehicle to ensuring quality and affordable education is made available to all aspiring students in Cebu and even around the world.