Insight & Analysis

60 Second Interview: Ken Bugayong, CFA, Minds Matter Seattle

Published: Sep 2020

What is it like to adapt from the treasury of a global corporate, to that of a non-profit organisation? Ken Bugayong, CFA of Minds Matter Seattle offers Treasury Today a glimpse into his new world.

Tell us about your current role and your journey here.

I manage the financial resources of Minds Matter Seattle, overseeing various initiatives including budgeting, forecasting, endowment planning, fundraising, grants and sponsorships. I fully believe that the work we do here has real long-term social value, supporting students from low-income families and preparing them for college.

Education has always been important to me. Having grown up in the Philippines, a developing nation, and starting my career in the country’s central bank, I had a first-hand macroeconomic view of some of the nation’s biggest challenges. Being based in Manila, a densely-populated city where poverty is an elevated factor, I could see that one of its root causes was lack of access to formal education. This confines many talented individuals to a state of poverty.

During my five-year term with the central bank, I decided to make a difference. It was inspiring that within the treasury department I was helping the broader economy by managing the bank’s reserves and undertaking FX and open market operations. But I also wanted to help the nation at the level where individuals directly experience poverty.

I found myself volunteering as a mentor within the non-profit Pathways to Higher Education. It identifies talented but financially underprivileged high school students, helping to equip them with the necessary academic and soft skills to become future leaders, who can help positively transform the nation.

I moved to the US to pursue a graduate degree at MIT, eventually moving to Seattle and joining the technology sector before moving on to become Treasury Manager at Expedia Group.

At some point I knew I wanted to find an avenue where I could contribute my professional skills and continue making a difference to society. Joining Minds Matter was an obvious choice, its mission very much aligned with that of Pathways.

What would you say to other financial professionals considering a volunteer role?

Many professionals have had the time under lockdown to think of moving towards a position that gives something back. As one who has made that move, I would say this. In your profession, it’s great if you enjoy your job; it’s even better if you find meaning in it. If you can combine the two, you will find much fulfilment.

Achieving fulfilment does not necessarily demand leaving the for-profit sector. Volunteering professional services – especially, in the current economic environment, by those with financial expertise – is very much welcomed by organisations in the non-profit sector. With treasurers being uniquely skilled to fill a void that many such organisations face as they come to terms with the financial fallout of the pandemic, maybe it is time for you to make a difference.

The full version of this interview, including how Ken Bugayong is helping Minds Matter tackle the funding gap, will be available in the September/October edition of Treasury Today.

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