Ex hotel waitress now holds executive position in UAE’s association of professional chefs

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Josephine Cueto Cuthbert has been spending half of her life in the UAE. She arrived in the UAE 29 years ago when Dubai was nothing but just a desert. It was 1991 when she worked as a hotel waitress at the Dubai Hilton Hotel and was promoted as a hostess and receptionist at a fine dining restaurant a few months after.

The 49-year-old Filipino was among the first Filipinos who worked in Dubai. After working in the hotel, she looked for another job in the management office industry. Cuthbert worked as a junior secretary to the executive secretary from 1993 to 1997.

Several years after, equipped with more knowledge and experience, she joined the Emirates Culinary Guild and became the Vice President of Administration. She looks after all the administrative works and affairs of UAE’s association of professional chefs.

“I enjoyed meeting chefs from all over the world and build friendships and expand my network. The chefs’ community around the world is the community that inspires me every day. To give an opportunity to help young chefs through the competition that I helped organize and give a direct line of contact with the many Filipino chefs around the world,” she said.

Cuthbert works closely with FilFood, a UAE-based company that promotes cuisines from the Philippines to the global market. “It makes me proud to know that through my work, I can help my kababayans,” she added.

When she left the Philippines for abroad, it was her intention to help her family back home and make a difference in their lives. “My parents struggled financially when we lost our small business that forced my mother to close it down. I was in second-year college, studying management when I decided to stop and seek work abroad,” she said.

To see her family living in a bad condition was one of her struggles before embarking an overseas life. Cuthbert witnessed her family living in a box-like room, sleeping with no mattress, and were only using a piece of cardboard to protect their back from the cold floor. “I had a strong will to fulfill my promise to myself and to my mother that we will overcome the trails through our strong faith in God,” she added.

After working abroad, she plans to settle between the Philippines and Australia so they can visit their loved ones there.

“If I have enough means to support, I would like to continue my advocacy in helping young children that are in need and to give more back to my community back home,” she added.

Belief, hard work, and perseverance

Strong belief, hard work, and perseverance are her primary virtue in life. This is the formula she used to survive nearly 30 years abroad.

“My advice to our kabayans is to practice patience and tolerance as we are working with multinationals and sometimes, we encounter discrimination or challenges that can put your job at risk. As long that you do your work diligently with integrity; the superior will see it through,” Cuthbert said.

She added that Filipinos abroad should always be reminded of why they’re working overseas.

“Surround yourself with positive minds that you can learn from and acquire knowledge with. Live within your means and save for the future and never forget to ask God for guidance,” she added.