Scaling new heights: Aguda’s journey

A lucky combination: His love for technology and his passion for education may very well be a good marriage of sorts. It was technology that became the winning anchor in transforming the many ways in which we do our banking these days. 

UnionBank’s Henry Aguda

Addressing financial inclusivity in the process, UnionBank’s Henry Aguda helped bring this access to anyone and everyone who has a smart phone to enjoy the service that literally any Juan can attest to the ease of use, with the increasing market share as proof of that.  

Henry never left the academe. He always had the role of being a professor apart from being an executive. This led to his involvement with institutions across the country either as a guest speaker, panel or lecturer. 

Henry teaches technology at UP Diliman’s Technology Management Center and Global Learning Solutions Singapore’s Asian Institute of Digital Transformation, while doing his own effort in bridging the digital divide say something about the man who envisions a more progressive Philippines through the use of digital and sustaining the access to education. Sure, he may have gone to the US to try things out, but UnionBank came and he ended up doing something meaningful—and to this day continues to do so, but with a bigger and richer perspective now. 

These achievements do not come as a surprise since Henry always had this drive to learn and grow. His love for challenges started when he first went to the University of the Philippines to take up Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. He then proceeded to further expound his knowledge by pursuing law in UP in 2008, where he graduated Cum Laude and valedictorian of his class. He is currently finishing his Master’s Degree in Applied Business Economics at the University of Asia and the Pacific. In addition, he even participated in programs from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the Asian Institute of Management, among many other institutions, which gave him a high-level rare industry-exposed knowledge in his chosen field. 

The typical day for Aguda—UnionBank’s transformational executive leader, who has also been recipients of two awards as of late—as the Privacy Advocate of the Year for 2021 given by the National Privacy Commission and as the CTO of the Year in Southeast Asia 2021 as bestowed by The European Global Banking and Finance Awards—is mostly spent online teaching digital transformation and expanding inclusivity to cover education. And for a good reason. We think all schools and universities may have modernized at this point in time with the availability of technology but there is still a good number of those who need to make the pivot. 

“We have the perfect demographics which we can take advantage of. We have a young population and we need to make their access to technology and digital easy,” shares Henry who also forecasts that we may get into an education crisis in the next five years if we don’t do anything about it. The country’s progress is assessed by its Human Capital Index (HCI) and education is a crucial part of it. 

This is one of the drivers of the UnionBank Xcellerator program that Henry leads where they reach out to schools to bring digital skills to the teachers with the hopes that later on they can also give jobs to the students through various partnerships with technology and solutions providers.

In addition, technology has transformed from a capability enabler to an alternative or additional revenue stream. We see celebrities, influencers and other social media personalities taking advantage of revenue-earning platforms such as TikTok, essentially cementing the focused direction that advertising is going. In the same breath, there are other technology (decentralized) applications – or dapp – using blockchain that also helps in financial inclusivity through play-to-earn models.

One blockchain-based game, called Axie Infinity is a good example. A decentralized application (dapp) on the Ethereum blockchain, Axie Infinity players breed, raise, battle and trade cute and adorable digital creatures called Axies. A man from Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija named Ijon Inton, now earns around P10,000 per week from playing the game. Of course, Ijon shared it to his family and then to his neighbors and now you have an entire barangay earning while playing Axie. 

“Progress can be achieved using digital, and we have seen that happen in UnionBank. We would like to see it also in sectors such as education and in logistics,” Henry quips. Execution excellence is of utmost importance to Henry’s team, and platform capabilities such as IBM’s API connect give tremendous value in their digital transformation journey. 

“We would like to share the vision of Henry and support his advocacy on digital services and be an agent of execution,” Questronix President Mike Dionisio adds to the conversation, highlighting how platform capabilities, in the end, help power and support the strategy of the business executives.

Armed with strong support from partners and stakeholders, Henry is indeed scaling new heights in the digital frontier.