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Changing of the guard

AS a kid and even now, I always find it fascinating to watch the “changing of the guard” ceremony in monuments of heroes and historical edifices. I am fortunate to have watched a few of these at the Arlington National Cemetery in the US, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin in Russia, the Buckingham Palace in England and our own Jose Rizal Monument in the Luneta Park in the Philippines.

The phrase “changing of the guard” originally refers to a formal rite in which guards performing ceremonial sentry duties at important places are relieved by a new batch of guards on a routine shift basis. It actually began as battlefield (and peacetime) military drills to enhance unit solidarity and efficiency in the late 17th and early 18th centuries that has since evolved and became an elaborate and choreographed ceremony which people still watch today.

By extension, the phrase is now used to refer to a situation in which there is a dramatic or significant change in an organization, such as a time in which a new person is replacing another in a position of importance. In most cases, it is a change in leadership in an organization.

Change in leadership is inevitable and essential in organizations, including associations. And that is why succession planning is a critical component of the organization’s human resource management in identifying and developing new leaders. Like “changing of the guards,” succession planning, also known as “replacement planning,” ensures that the organization has a fresh set of talents to replace incumbents who either seek other opportunities elsewhere or retire.

My organization, the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (Adfiap), will soon have a changing of the guards. The Adfiap, which was founded in October 1976 by 31 charter members during the 6th annual conference of development finance institutions (interchangeably called development banks) organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), currently has 86 member-DFIs in 35 countries in the region.

After serving the ADFIAP for 30 years—15 years as Deputy Secretary General and the rest as Secretary General—it’s now time for me to move on and pass the baton to a new leader in the Secretariat. I will still serve the Adfiap until the end of this year, but I will step aside to start the 6-month leadership transition by July 1, 2021 when my colleague, Enrique “Boyet” Florencio, assumes the leadership post.

It has been an amazing life’s journey for me at the Adfiap and there are so many blessings to thank for: friends and acquaintances here and overseas; numerous networks that I have collaborated with; many organizations I have worked with and shared their welcome; different places I have been to; and, tons of knowledge I have gained all these years, among others.

I will have time now to continue to pursue my personal advocacy–that of sharing my passion, expertise and experience in association management and governance to the association community here and abroad, including writing for this column.

It’s an eerie feeling that this time I am not only watching a changing of the guard, but an active participant of it!

The column contributor, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific, Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives and President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations. The purpose of PCAAE—the “association of associations”—is to advance the association management profession and to make associations well-governed and sustainable. PCAAE enjoys the support of Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board, and the Philippine International Convention Center. E-mail: [email protected]

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