A glimpse of MDIO Chair Louie’s Rotaract journey

By Elyrose Naorbe | Posted on May 21, 2021

Leading a Rotary district is tough. One’s leadership will be tested by various challenges, complaints, and even criticisms. 

How much more when one’s in charge of leading the whole Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO, covering more than 700 Rotaract Clubs with 14,000 Rotaractors? 

While multi-district information organizations (MDIOs) work closely with the districts in fulfilling its information dissemination and multi-district initiatives/programs, a lot of administrative and coordination work involving the MDIO teams, the districts, and the Rotaractors themselves have to be done in order to ensure seamless service delivery and optimum membership experience.

Established in 2007, MDIO is a Rotary International (RI) recognized regional group of multiple districts that serves as a hub for multi-district information dissemination and communication, leadership development, fellowship, and service projects collaboration. It is headed by a Chair whose main role is to coordinate all activities and programs of the MDIO by leading a team of volunteers. The Chair shall also maintain regular communication with the member districts, through the district Rotaract representatives (DRRs) and the district governors (DGs), as well as all regional and central officers of Rotary International.

For one to become a Chair of Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO, he/she needs to have been a Past DRR and has ideally worked as an MDIO officer prior to chairmanship to make sure he/she has gained the necessary experience and established key relationships with the people he/she will be working with. And with all the time, effort, and skills, the Chair ensures that the MDIO will become more efficient, responsible, and a model example of a transformational organization.  

It did just that this past year despite the pandemic limiting movement in socio-civic work and fellowship. All was made possible because of MDIO Chair Louie Boy De Real whose works and skills are worthy of emulation. 

Louie when he ran as MDIO Chair way back February 2019

Louie, as what his friends fondly call him, started his Rotaract journey 11 years ago. Prior to his current position, he has served as Past President of the Rotaract Club of San Francisco Del Monte Malaya Achievers in Quezon City, served as District Rotaract Secretary for four years then became a DRR of Rotary International District 3780 after. He then served in the MDIO for two years as Communications Head then Vice Chair until he became the current Chair this Rotary Year 2020-2021.

Some of his notable experiences included a participation in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programs, Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI), various regional and global Rotaract and Rotary conferences. He even went to the different districts to speak in both Rotary and Rotaract events. Most importantly, he was actually one of the two Rotaractors in the Philippines chosen by RI to participate in the January 2020 RI Assembly held in San Diego, California, USA, the training event of all DGs convened by who would become his RI President (Holger Knaack) – a match made by destiny.

“My RI Assembly experience, I think, was the best training that prepared me for the MDIO Chair role because I was able to learn RI’s thrusts for districts and clubs. As the assembly was also themed on Elevate Rotaract and the RI President is an advocate of Rotary-Rotaract collaboration, just like me, I had a better sense on how to bridge Rotarians and Rotaractors in the Philippines to co-create the future of the organization. The product of my assembly experience was a thorough introspect that led to the programs that we did in the MDIO this Rotary year”

-MDIO Chair Louie Boy de Real

Outside Rotaract and Rotary, Louie is a Program Manager of Security Bank Foundation, Inc., the corporate Foundation of Security Bank Corporation, a local bank in the Philippines. His work is somehow aligned with what he does in Rotaract as he also leads a team of project officers developing and implementing projects.

How does it feel leading an organization during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Louie: I personally think that I became chair at the right time. Before I became chair, my top priority was actually digital transformation of the MDIO. With the large number of Rotaractors in the Philippines (top 2 in terms of membership), I believe digitization can help us better inform and engage members. Hence, the key programs we implemented this year include full operation of an integrated national Rotaract website serving as repository of all club and district needs, hub for events and initiatives, and source of inspiring stories of best practices. We also launched a digital monthly e-mail newsletter “Ang Balangay” which is sent to both Rotaractors and Rotarians across the country. We also improved our social media presence in multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (which drives the People of Action Campaign), Youtube, and even Tiktok. We also launched the Pilipinas Rotaract Online University and conducted critical learning topics to ensure that Rotaractors are armed with the knowledge and tools they need for participating and leading their clubs and districts. 

Pilipinas Rotaract MDIO turnover of COVID-19 test kits during the early days of the pandemic to UP NIH raised from donations of Rotaractors and Rotarians across the country

How does a day of an MDIO Chair look like?

Louie: On a weekday, I usually get up in the morning at around 5am, sometimes as early as 4am. I already begin doing MDIO stuff in the early morning like checking the organization’s emails, monitoring the deliverables of MDIO officers, and approving and sharing announcements. I set aside Rotaract stuff during office hours then probably go back during lunch break depending on how hectic my work deliverables. During lunch time, I find time to communicate with the DRRs or MDIO officers. I then continue MDIO stuff after office, entertaining meetings including with the RI global and regional leaders. I make it a point though to sleep by 9pm to have enough time to recharge and maintain a healthy body and skin. On weekends, it is full of Rotaract stuff. I usually do the planning, crafting of project plans and outputs, and all other things that require a deeper thought process on weekends. 

What do you think are the key ingredients for a successful MDIO chairmanship?

Louie: You have to be good in stakeholder management and by stakeholders, I do not just mean Rotaractors. This includes Rotarians, RI staff and officers and even external organizations. A lot of the success measures of the MDIO programs rely on the ability to engage members and non-members. You have to understand the interests and needs of Rotaractors so your programs will be patterned to address those. You have to successfully engage districts because they will help you drive your programs. You have to also understand their needs and pain points because the MDIO is supposed to help them fulfill their roles. This Rotary Year, I led the reorganization of the MDIO into teams namely Governance, Learning and Development, Communications, Membership, and Programs. I think a team working environment is the appropriate operating model for an MDIO especially with the immensity of functions that we have to fulfill. 

MDIO Chair Louie with the Rotary Regional and District Leaders during the Philippine Rotary Vaccination Campaign launch last April 17, 2021

You also have to establish strategic relationships with Rotarians and the Rotary leaders in the region. Before I became chair, I really took the effort to introduce myself and the MDIO to all regional structures in the Philippines, the Philippine College of Rotary Governors, Philippine Rotary Magazine, Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator, Rotary Coordinator, Regional Public Image Coordinator, End Polio National Chair, the DGs and other influential PDGs, and even the RI South Pacific and Philippines Office. I know that Rotarians and Rotaractors have common goals and with Elevate Rotaract, there are a lot of opportunities that can be maximized if we always work together. Now I can say that the MDIO has a very good relationship with our Rotary leaders that set the platform for exciting collaborations just like the Philippine Rotary Vaccination Campaign and the Philippine Rotaract Magazine Digital.

What are you thankful for during your term as MDIO Chair?

Louie: To be honest, there would be a lot of things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I am very thankful to all the Rotaractors in the Philippines who have been very receptive and supportive of the programs rolled-out by the MDIO. We exceeded a lot of targets this year and this is driven by the support outpoured by the Rotaractors in the country. I am very thankful because I cannot say that I’m very well-known in the country before my chairmanship. That is something I am really very grateful for because even if I do not personally know them, they are giving their best to participate and support. I actually gained a lot of friends in Rotaract throughout my chairmanship journey. I am also very thankful to the DRRs and MDIO Officers because they have been very vital in operationalizing MDIO’s thrusts this year. 

MDIO Chair Louie with other Rotaractors selected to participate in the 2020 RI Assembly

What are your plans after your MDIO Chairmanship?

Louie: I initially plan to go back to my district and club to help, especially that the next DRR of our district is a clubmate. However, there was a calling for me to take a higher leadership role. I was elected as the next chair of the Asia Pacific Rotaract MDIO which covers more than 120 districts in East Asia, ASEAN member states, Australia and the Pacific islands. I would have not sought the chairmanship next term but the Asia Pacific Rotaract MDIO was very new, formed last September 2020. With the foresight that no one would be willing to take up the role next year, I had to step up as I would not want the efforts to build it to go in vain. I also look at this as an opportunity to use my experience with the Philippines’ MDIO in laying the foundation for processes and systems that will sustain the regional MDIO. Another thing is I have been appointed as Assistant Rotary Coordinator in RI Zone 10A for three years or from 2021 to 2024. I personally cannot beg off since this is a good opportunity for Rotaract and Rotary in the Philippines to have stronger collaborations. These two regional roles go on top of my role as District Rotaract Trainer of my district next term. Indeed, I will still be in Rotary and Rotaract action next year. I will still find time to support the next set of MDIO officers if needed, especially in providing solicited advice and bridging them with Rotarians and external partners.

Louie during his Report on the State of Rotaract in the District as DRR in RI District 3780 Conference

What is your advice for people who aspire to be an MDIO Chair in the future?

Louie: Invest much time in knowing as much Rotaractors and Rotarians as you can to understand their needs and interests. Your plans and programs should be addressing the relevant needs of the time while preparing the organization to easily adapt to future challenges. Be holistic. Develop your skills, involve yourself all-around, be knowledgeable in training, communications, program development and implementation, membership engagement, and policies and guidelines.

Chair Louie delivering Rotaract’s address during the virtual Philippine Festival of Youth Action 2020, a collaboration with 8 other major youth organizations in the Philippines

As a busy Rotaractor and a program manager, how are you balancing work and personal life, including love life? 

Louie: I find opportunities to chill and do leisurely activities such as chatting with friends, listening to music, and watching Tiktok and Youtube videos whenever I am traveling or prior to going to sleep. Sometimes, I record fun Tik Tok videos and record music covers to destress. I am also fascinated with Kpop and Asian drama series. For love life, I have no time yet to commit to a relationship but I am open to entertaining people who might want to get to know me better.

Louie during the 2019 Asia Pacific Rotaract Leaders Meeting held at Kaohsiung, Taiwan

They say leaders are born. But for Chair Louie, he doesn’t exist because he wants to lead purely. He was born to make a greater impact to the community and to the organization. For him, seeing others shine because of his mentorship, is the true essence of being a leader. 

Share and Enjoy !