As Secretary General of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia & the Pacific (ADFIAP), Octavio B. Peralta – better known as Bobby in our industry – has developed over a course of 25 years a network of friends and allies in the association and MICE world. Our most seasoned readers will also know that Bobby has been instrumental in creating and sustaining APFAO, the Asia- Pacific Federation of Association Organizations, which HQ is a strong supporter and partner of. Interview Rémi Dévé
It thus made sense for us to give more voice to Bobby. After all, there have been some interesting developments in all the organizations he works for and strongly believes in. He tells us below the why, the how, the when!
You've got 2 hats, one ADFIAP one and one APFAO (not counting PCAAE even) - what are the challenges in juggling with the 2?
Actually, I currently wear four hats, ADFIAP and its “mother’ organization, the World Federation of DFIs, as well as PCAAE, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, and its regional affiliation, the APFAO. This is why family and friends affectionately call me the “Association Man”. Certainly, work nowadays is very much demanding and time is always not enough. Then, there’s the diversity of constituencies and stakeholders that I have to relate with. The rigors of travel is also becoming a challenge to my not-so-young-anymore body. And finally, bonding time with my family is getting less.
But I hasten to add that I am not complaining because I am blessed both at work and at home. At work, I am fortunate to have a reliable and dedicated staff consisting of both millennials and boomers, so I get tech-savviness, nimbleness and experience altogether. Time management, delegation, focused responsibilities and, yes, internet and technology help a lot in managing things. At home, I have an understanding wife and son who also provide ideas to my work and advocacies. At times, when resources are available and frequent flyer miles are enough, the three of us travel together even during my work time abroad. In a sense, I can cope and is truly blessed!
How does/did your role in ADFIAP help(ed) you 'build' APFAO?
The short answer would be in building relationships, credibility and confidence. I have been with ADFIAP for 25 years now. Since ADFIAP is a pan Asia-Pacific association with global reach, including with international multilateral organizations like the United Nations and its instrumentalities, the World Bank and its affiliates as well as international technical assistance bodies like USAID, GIZ, JICA and others, I have built over the years continuing relationships with officers and staff of these institutions who provided me with invaluable insights and expert advice as well as speaking opportunities and/or joint event activities for ADFIAP to be visible and recognized.
These also paved the way for me to link up and develop partnerships with knowledge-based institutions and like-minded associations. All these have helped build credibility which is essential in institution-building. These linkages, visibility and credibility factors have contributed to my confidence in setting PCAAE and then, APFAO.
What do you see the future of APFAO like? Can you share the latest developments of APFAO?
As I envision APFAO to be and, of course, I am not alone with this – there’s our big brother and sister, the American Society of Association Executives and fellow APFAO members, Associations Forum, the Australasian Society of Association Executives, the Korean Society of Association Executive and the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives – APFAO is to be the “hub of excellence” in association leadership. It means that APFAO will be a focal point and will curate knowledge, good practices and information on association governance and management and share these to the association community, not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also worldwide.
In the last APFAO meeting at the side lines of the ASAE Great Ideas Conference in Hong Kong in April this year, APFAO members and an expanded group of supporters have agreed to continue on the work and advocacy of the APFAO and set a simple work plan that included a website www.apfao.org, an e-newsletter (still in the works), compiling events of each member, and dovetailing meetings during conferences where members are present. As in any organization, the APFAO is still evolving as a “federation of national associations” as there are present initiatives, notably in Malaysia and Japan, where associations there are converging as national “associations of associations” similar to the current APFAO members. This means that going forward, the APFAO will expand and grow in membership, reach and influence.
Tell us about what drives you as an association executive.
Love and passion for a job that has been a source of countless friends all over the world, a source of knowledge in a field that has its own science and art, as well as a source of work and livelihood, in this particular order.
Let me explain a bit. I actually became an association executive by chance. I was clueless on how to be an association executive when I joined ADFIAP 25 years ago. I am a mechanical engineer by education and a development banker by career. I tried self-study which helped but what brought me to the “world of associations” is when, in one of my trips to the U.S. to attend a World Bank meeting, I visited ASAE, bought some books and then became a member. Since then, I related myself with ASAE, became a contributor in terms of volunteer work, and now I am a content task force member of its Great Ideas Asia-Pacific Conference which was instrumental in expanding my association horizon and yes, the setting up of the APFAO.
Can you share your insights about the differences between an organisation like APFAO and an American Association of Executives or a European one?
The ASAE, to my understanding, is essentially an American organization with international members, components or chapters. I am not familiar with the European counterpart. APFAO, on the other hand, as earlier mentioned, is a federated network of “national associations of associations” whose members are associations and not individuals and does not have components and chapters. It is also Asia-Pacific focused for the time being, not discounting the possibility of having members outside the region that may express interest in joining APFAO, but this is obviously still forward-looking.
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