I met Ms. Zyra on Instagram after seeing her post on how she still tries to keep a positive outlook despite being affected by the pandemic. She also expressed sympathy to other Overseas Filipino Workers.
I immediately reached out to her asking if she could share her story, and she agreed. She was very accommodating and she didn’t shy away from the questions I asked.
We had an interesting chat. She shared how she started in Dubai and how she became a candidate for the Project Manager position. She also gave insights on how she stands out before her male British colleagues.
At the end of our discussion, I was left with a lesson that if you want to achieve your goals, you shouldn’t let your age, nationality or gender hinder you. Do not let the circumstances intimidate you. Always remember, Rome is not built in a day. Ms. Zyra is a living proof that by being goal-oriented, you can reach greater heights.
This is how our conversation went:
Ms. Zyra: Hi love! Thank you for the opportunity! Why not! I would love to answer a few questions of yours ♥️. Kudos to you and your passion. I always wanted to become a blogger but I’m not good and creative enough☺️.
Me: Yey! Thanks for the interest! Ohh, if I can blog, you can too❤️. You have what it takes to be a blogger👍🏽. I’m a newbie actually and is still learning the trade. BTW, what do you do in Dubai and how long have you been working abroad? 😊
Ms. Zyra: I’m working in Events as Projects and Estimation. What I do is I coordinate projects and budget it too in between. Not too long. 4 years in October.
Me: Wow! That’s interesting❤️. Would you mind sharing how you end up as Projects and Estimation in Dubai? Did you apply in the Philippines or in Dubai?
Ms. Zyra: Actually no. It’s like a ladder I had to climb. This is actually my 3rd job. My first was as an executive secretary of an interior design company, which only lasted a few months as I resigned because of delayed salary. After that, I got into an events company where I worked as a Project Coordinator / Admin Manager. It was a start-up company owned and staffed by British (I was the only Filipina). I was hustling between administration duties on most days and attends to projects based roles when needed. After a year and two months, I have realized that I wanted something more and bigger and be part of the operation itself instead of just being a support. That’s when I landed at my current company, where I initially worked as Operations Coordinator. I was in charge mainly of all project-related operational-wise and learning a new thing which was estimating a project cost based on all factors. A few months after that I was then given the opportunity to be the main point of contact of certain events/projects. At the same time, I was the team lead for all our international logistics as my current company not only operates in GCC but also in MENA Region. And of course, in between, I was still mastering my estimation skills. The path that I took wasn’t built in one day. And I’m sure not everything went as planned yet I’m still thankful how it worked out! Right now, I’m busy finishing my PMP certification to get promoted as Project Manager.
Me: Wow! Good luck with the promotion! Hope you get the job ❤️
Ms. Zyra: Thank you. xx Finger’s crossed. How about you? Where are you based at?
Me: How is it like working as the only Filipina filled with British employees? Have you faced any challenges? I’m a hotelier in Ghana, West Africa. I actually worked in Dubai before coming here.
Ms. Zyra: It was a bit hard at first. Office vibe wise, it was okay. But being the only girl and the only nationality from our country makes it kinda hard to get and impose authority at some point. Plus, the jokes didn’t make sense mostly to me when they crack it! 😅 But that experience exposed me to an international environment which is helping me a lot right now as I’m the only Filipina as well in our department whereas; everyone else are European and British ☺️ A lot of people are asking me how is it like working in a “man’s industry” as they quote it. To be honest, I have felt sexism on-site at some point but I try to shrug it off because women inequality is so last decade. ☺️
Oh, that’s nice. How long were you here? You missing Dubai? 😌
Me: Ohh wow! That’s admirable. I worked there for 1 year and 7 months. Yeah, I do! I miss everything about Dubai! The community, environment, and food 😭
So, how does working abroad changed your life? Why did you opt to work abroad?
Ms. Zyra: It changed a lot, to be honest. I was really in comfort when I was in the Philippines. Comfort in the sense of having a stable job, income that just supports me, and of course, parents are just there as my safety net. But when I finally decided to get out of my comfort zone, everything changed. Everything was new to me. I had to be independent because I have no family member here that can help me. And I did it. Now, I’m not only supporting my parents but also my relatives. I have two cousins that I’m sending to school, another two cousins that I have helped to start a life here in Dubai as well, experiencing luxury that I didn’t even imagine I would when I was in the Philippines on my own, without the help of anyone. Managed to get my own flat here in Dubai, get a license and my own car, had a small business here as well, and travel in between. Working in Dubai was the best by impulse decision I have ever made.
Me: Wow! Strong independent woman. Really proud of you Ms. Zyra. Hope there will be more of you. Do you see yourself as successful?
Ms. Zyra: Well, I define success as being able to accomplish the goals I set for myself. Hence, I would say successful in a way and still not. I have been crossing out in my goal list the things I have achieved — and at the same time, I will be setting up a new one. Success is a life long process. We can never really be successful until we are fully contented and have fulfilled our purpose. In my case, as one of the millennial OFWs, I’d say I still have a long way to go.
Me: Wow. Do you still have plans to going back to the Philippines and settle? Or would you prefer to live abroad?
Ms. Zyra: Philippines will always be my home. And I come home for a day or two or sometimes a week just to see and visit everyone close to my heart — at least a minimum 3 times a year. However, at the moment, I am still enjoying the life Dubai is giving me, and settling isn’t listed in any of my notes, yet. Let’s just say, I am willing to go wherever a better opportunity comes knocking.☺️
Me: I see. What do you miss most in the Philippines?
Ms. Zyra: I miss a lot of things!! Literally everything! 😂 What I miss most are my friends, the food!! Oh gosh, yes the food like sinigang na baboy, lechon, palabok. I have learned to cook when I got here but it’s still different. Also the street food, the beaches, and the warmth and love of every Filipino. Sugarcoating aside, working abroad isn’t always unicorn and rainbows. Kabayans we meet here are still different from people we grew up with (in my perspective of course). And that’s what I miss most in all aspects — Genuine.
Me: Aww. You made me miss Filipino food too😂. I couldn’t agree more. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned about working and living abroad?
Ms. Zyra: I know right! Gosh! Makes me drool! Plus the bicol xpress huhu. First, you can avoid doing bad decisions after another if you don’t do things by impulse. Second, always look into things and weight them by asking yourself, “Will this matter in the next 5 years, or will this make a huge impact in my future?”. If the answer is no, don’t do it, don’t be bothered about it and don’t let it affect you. Third, I should have not trusted people fully to the extent that they are capable of pulling me down. There should always be a thin line between them, and putting up yourself first. Fourth, don’t be too selfless — people will take you for granted given the opportunity and lastly, you will pat your own back as no one else will. Prioritize yourself.
Me: Aww. I love Bicol express! Lol. Ms. Zyra, I’m really honored you’re sharing your story with me. I really admire you. Can you share your secret with me and the readers? How can we become as successful as you? Great lessons by the way. I’m taking notes 😊
Ms. Zyra: Sis, I can swear I’ve cried and can fill up 5 drums with my tears for all the things that have happened to me here lol
There is no secret! We all just have to focus on what we really want to achieve, set a timeframe, and do everything to get it! There’s no stopping!!! Use all our ages’ hype in making our dreams become reality. But of course, we just have to do baby steps. Nothing is built in one day and just like how my mom would tell me every time I’m feeling down and would ask her to pray for me, “ love, reach your dreams one by one and not all at a time. One way or another, I know you, you will get that, no matter what. And we are always here for you “. That’s one more thing that keeps me going… My family’s faith in me and my faith in God.
To everyone who’s reading this:
Be passionate in all the things that you do and believe in yourself. If a 25-year old Filipina like me, who‘s a breadwinner at the age of 21 and an ambitious only child who grew up with only enough but filled with love from the parents can do it, why can’t you? You have a full life ahead of you. Make every day, living the dream.
Follow Ms. Zyra on Instagram: @kayemoxx