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The Filipino behind Facebook Avatars

In this segment we are joined by a Filipino American with the coolest job, ever. Dino Ignacio is the Design Lead at Facebook Reality Labs.

He starts off by explaining what his title means – “It is a combination of all the efforts in technology that Facebook is currently working on. It could be anything from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.” More notably, Dino designs avatars that are personalized for web interaction.

“Imagine a future where you and I could decide wherever we want to be as avatars of ourselves. We wouldn’t be bound by a screen and we will be 3 dimensional beings,” he says.

A few things to be excited about. according to Dino, is that Facebook Reality Labs is committed to creating opportunities for inclusion and diversity. He and his team are currently working on more options that will be available when personalizing avatars such as more hairstyles, asymmetrical facial features, wrinkles to represent age and other things that could be used for self-expression. He urges everyone to check out this fun feature on #Facebook.

Jannelle also asks Dino what it is like working at a huge tech company such as Facebook. And Dino says he finds the company to be different from other (tech companies) because it is more “open” in terms of sharing information across departments and colleagues. “There is a culture built around collaboration, innovation and awareness,” he explains, adding that it is a very humbling and exciting experience.

Dino also shares his journey to his current position and notes what he considers his the top 3 things that helped him land his career:

Be more assertive – Filipinos tend to be very self-aware and careful not to offend others. According to Dino, what this fosters is lack of assertiveness i.e. not being able to ask (the right) questions and not informing others how things should be done. Dino says he believes that in order to succeed in life it is important to step out of cultural norms. He shares he still finds himself using vague terms like “sort of” or “kind of” which disempowers his statements. So he continues to make a goal not to use buffer terms.

Be compassionate – With the constant push and pull between the Filipino and Western culture, it is important to find a balance: “In your journey to become confident, don’t forget to be compassionate,” he adds.

Keep being innovative – Dino says Filipinos come from a culture where we probably had less and so we tried new ways to do things. Reminding our viewers that “necessity is always the mother of invention,” he emphasizes that TECHNOLOGY is all about finding solutions to problems that people don’t know how to solve yet. And Filipinos have the inherent ability to solve problems.

Being in tech and as an insider, we were curious to find out Dino’s thoughts on Netflix’s #SocialDilemma; and Jannelle asks his for his thoughts, especially from a parent’s standpoint.

Dino replies that he believes that as a parent, he needs to be hyper aware of what his children are doing. He always makes sure, and reminds parents to do that same – that none of the things his children are doing through social media is exposing any personal or confidential information about them.

“Always ask yourself if you would allow a certain behaviour to happen at home. If the answer is no then don’t do it,” he says.

He also adds that that as a Facebook employee, it is not his job to “defend” his company. But after working there for 5 years he says he can attest to the company’s responsible ways of handling information and data.

In terms of parents creating social media accounts for their children, Dino says what he personally likes to do is post photos of his child as a documentation of her life. He does this so his relatives would see these photos and interact with her. That being said, he adds that and his wife are very private and their photos are only visible to their close friends and family.

He asserts that it really just boils down to what parents prefer when dealing with their children. He ends with an encouraging message to the younger generation to learn more about STEAM and all the opportunities the industry can bring to Filipinx.

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