Switch! Philippines

In 2020 the SWITCH SEA project launched with four economies, including the Philippines. The project aimed to support the career development goals of women and gender diverse people working in the technical sector.

In 2022, SWITCH SEA wrapped up, and the Switch! project took its place. Switch! not only had two additional economies, it also had annual National Events in which the participants from that economy could network and share knowledge.

Ninja Tadifa: Inhale Positivity, Exhale Anxiety

Ninja Tadifa (second from left) was on the planning committee of the 2023 APRICOT conference and spoke at some sessions.

“People around me, particularly my colleagues, have noticed a change in my perspective, as I am now able to acknowledge and embrace compliments, regardless of the magnitude of what I have accomplished.”

– Ninja Tadifa, 2023 Switch! participant

Learning about myself through coaching

Prior to my participation in the Switch! project, I frequently struggled to express myself. I was having difficulty putting my thoughts into words. When there are many “buts” and “ifs” I tend to overthink and get bogged down in detail rather than focusing on the big picture. 

I was getting exhausted in the fast-paced operation where I work. I felt I needed to complete all these tasks to avoid disappointing everyone around me. In the midst of it all, I had already forgotten who I was. I had lost track of how I felt in terms of body, mind, and health.  

But then, as part of the Switch! project’s pod coaching program, I met a small group of people with whom I could be open and honest, where we could share our experiences and perhaps inspire others to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. Our casual conversations aided in my discovery of my true abilities, flaws, and strengths. Accepting oneself, letting go of the past, and moving forward are the first steps toward developing a positive growth mindset. Furthermore, I improved my ability to motivate myself when engaging with others.  

The final point that piqued my interest was the value of practicing self-love and self-care because all personal growth—physical, emotional, and psychological—begins with you.  

Expanding professional networks

Networking events such as APRICOT 2023 assisted me in expanding my domestic and international network. Attending this conference was among my proudest moments. I participated in the conference’s planning committee. I was initially anxious to accept the offer to be a session facilitator because my English wasn’t good enough and I was afraid I’d stutter. But, having learned from pod coaching, I told myself, “Ninja, conquer your fear.” Believe in yourself; you can do it.” Thus, I decided to take it. It was the first time I’d ever addressed a live audience of people from all over the world.  

My self-esteem was boosted, and I gained invaluable experience as a facilitator and member of the organizing team. I had the opportunity to meet the brains behind the Philippines’ Internet infrastructure.  

Furthermore, APNIC invited me to a Contact Officer training. I was surprised that almost everyone in the room recognized me. Also, I was taken aback by the fact that our new business associate seemed to recognize me during our very first meeting with her. “You are Ninja, the one who hosts APRICOT,” she said.  

Based on these responses, I’m ecstatic that I’m becoming more visible in the industry and that my network is growing.  

A growing sense of optimism

The most significant changes for me have been my greater sense of optimism and the meaningful connections I’ve made through my expanded network. 

For years, I had been doubting myself. I had fears of making mistakes. I was afraid to stutter, especially when speaking English. I was anxious to say something I wasn’t sure about. I was constantly thinking negatively.  

But everything changed when I became a part of the APNIC Foundation Switch! program. When I first joined Pod Coaching, I was in the midst of a transition between my old and new work environments. I found this coaching activity to be a safe space for me to express myself and share my perspectives on work. Through the sessions, I gained insight into my true potential, weaknesses, and strengths. Accepting myself, letting go of the past, and moving forward became the cornerstones of my positive growth mindset.  

Along with the technical trainings or workshops I’ve attended like ITIL and CCNA, I’ve become a reliable person who gives or suggests solutions, as opposed to the old me, who kept throwing questions and letting others think for solutions. I learned to ask smart questions and swiftly adjust on the engagement flow.  

Additionally, this year’s pod coaching increased my confidence in my verbal English. I’ve also noticed that I’ve become more self- aware and willing to take risks despite my fears.  

By asking smart questions and cultivating an optimistic mindset, I was able to establish meaningful network connections. As someone who works with internet service commercials, I became more visible regionally. It naturally helps me to create my pitch for deal negotiation.  

Recognizing the changes within me

As a whole, the APNIC Foundation laid the groundwork for my self-empowerment. I’m able to gain clarity, boost confidence, have the courage to take risks and increase my level of certainty. To rephrase, I take a deep breath of optimism and exhale my anxieties.  

In contrast to the old me, who kept throwing questions and letting others think for solutions, I’ve diversified into a reliable person who provides or suggests solutions.  

Also, as someone who works with Internet service companies, I became more visible regionally. This helps when considering partnership opportunities.

The Switch! project helps me with these changes by providing pod coaching, regional and national conferences such as APRICOT, APNIC, and PhNOG, as well as technical workshops such as ITIL and CCNA.  

These changes would not have happened if the Switch! project had not been involved. This is what I’ve been looking for for years: someone who can support me with both my professional and personal growth.  

My realization that I’m getting a better version of myself came about in the last few months when I became aware of how much I was improving the way I engage with our internal and external clients.  

The difference between old and new me is that I can gain clarity, boost confidence, take risks, and increase my level of certainty. And, it will lead to more changes in my future in such a way that I can inspire or influence others with my positivity.  

Project participants are encouraged to share stories of their progress. This account has been lightly edited.